Teaching Ideas : History Days
History could be a very dry subject full of facts and information that the children might need to learn and memorise. However, you can use themed days and role-play activities to bring the past alive for the class so that they can fully experience and understand some of the events that occurred in the past.
You can either use a theme day to launch a new history topic or you can hold a special day towards the end of a topic so that the class can prepare fully for the day by making resource materials and planning the drama. Build in time for the children to review their experiences and talk about their understanding about how people lived in the past. During the day, you can get the class to take photographs and short video films to use in English when presenting a newspaper report about the past.
You can split a day themed on the Romans into two sections. In the first part, get the children to role-play living and working as Roman soldiers. You could set up a mock camp on the school field where the children can role-play moving and fighting as a Roman legion. As preparation for this activity, you can get the children to make some model Roman shields and swords in an art and design lesson. The children can then use the materials to practise moving around in different Roman formations such as the tortoise or wedge. In the second part of the day, you can hold a Roman banquet in the classroom with the children dressed up in togas. Some children can write speeches to present at the banquet as part of a previous English lesson. Some children can sample some bread, cheese, grapes and wine (blackcurrant juice) served by other children acting as slaves. You can round off the banquet by getting some children to read stories about Roman gods or battles that they have written in an English lesson.
Use a themed day about the Vikings to help the children experience and understand what happened when they invaded Ancient Briton. The children could produce some models of Viking weaponry in an art and design lesson that could be used when raiding a model village that you have set-up in the school grounds. With careful instructions, the children can role-play attacking the model village occupied by some of the class acting as Ancient Britons to steal food and treasures. Later in the day, the class can hold a mock Viking feast sharing some of the spoils of their previous raid such as fruit, cheese and bread. Allow some children to regale the banquet with their daring tales of adventure that have been written in a previous English lesson.
Help the class experience the lives of the Ancient Egyptians by getting them to role-play the construction of a pyramid in the school grounds. You can split the children into small groups to rotate around the activity during the course of the school day. Get them to use a collection of small boxes to build their own pyramid in the school grounds. They can also leave a small tomb room inside the pyramid in which they have left models of Ancient Egyptian treasures that have been produced in an art and design lesson. During the day, you can also get the class to practise writing Hieroglyphics on scrolls made from paper produced by layering sheets of paper. You can use the Hieroglyphic designs to convert the classroom into an Ancient Egyptian temple.
A day focusing on the lives of the Ancient Greeks can be split into two parts. In the morning, you can get the children to explore the daily lives of the Ancient Greeks. The class can hold a meeting in the Agora to discuss an issue that affecting the city state such as a proposed battle with Sparta. The class can write speeches in a previous English lesson to present during the meeting before holding a vote to decide on the course of action. In the afternoon, you can get the children to participate in a mock Olympic Games. The class can take part in running races, the long jump, carefully managed wrestling matches and even chariot racing with a pair of children on their knees acting as the horses. In a previous art and design lesson, the children can make wreathes from collected twigs and leaves which can be presented to the winners of each competition.
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