Using artefacts to develop young children’s understanding of the past

Primary History article

Helen Crawford, last updated: 5th March 2016

Memory Boxes

In the children’s picture book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Wilfrid is a small boy who meets Miss Nancy, an old lady who has lost her memory. Wilfrid wants to help, and so he carefully fills a basket with special objects and takes them to her. He places a medal in her hand and she remembers her brother, who went to war and never came back. She holds a shell to her ear and remembers taking a tram to the seaside long, long ago. Miss Nancy starts to remember.

The story is a wonderful way to introduce to young children the idea that artefacts are a door through which we can explore the past.

Creating memory boxes

Understanding past and present events in children’s own lives is a key learning outcome for the foundation stage. Memory boxes (like the one Wilfrid made for Miss Nancy) are a great way to build up your own class’s collection of artefacts that are significant for the children you teach...

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