Using different sources to bring a topic to life: The Rebecca Riots

Primary History article

By Clare Horrie, published 15th May 2020

For primary school pupils a key aim of the National Curriculum for history is to understand the method of historical enquiry. Working with original sources is of course central to the whole process and provides a great way to inspire pupils’ experience of the subject. Young pupils, once they have grasped what a primary source actually is, can develop the skills of how to ‘unlock it’ to find out the about the past. Before working with these sources on the Rebecca Riots, introduce or re-cap on the concept of a primary source depending on the needs of your class.

Showing them the real thing is so important and gets them away from the idea that sources somehow exist separately in the form of typed extracts or artists’ impressions in text books. Again, don’t be afraid of using an original handwritten document where the language is difficult, unusual or highly specific. By encouraging the pupils to unlock the meaning of the words within an original source it reinforces the sense of historical enquiry. Original cartoons likewise are a great window into the past and by carefully encouraging your pupils’ visual literacy skills they can be rewarding sources to share with them...

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