Using the back cover image: Communications

Primary History feature

By Karin Doull, published 21st February 2020

Changes within living memory

Exploring the everyday objects that shaped our lives in the not too distant past can prove to be exciting historical challenges for primary age children. While we might remember or be familiar with the objects and their use, they can provide confusion for children. This is in part because of their similarities to modern equivalents.

This was brought home to me very clearly when working with groups of students investigating artefacts from the 1920s. Without doubt the most popular were the portable typewriter and the windup portable gramophone. A number of delighted students whipped out their phones to record the records playing while others puzzled over how the typewriter worked: Where does the ink go? How do you change shift? What is the bell for? How did you make copies? How did you erase errors? How hard do you need to press the keys to make them work? They asked questions that I had not anticipated as I, of course, knew what everything did. These were part of my lived experiences, but not theirs, and so proved to be recognisable but still strange...

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