The concept of time is not an easy one for young children to grasp. 'A long time ago'
to a small child could be equally be last week or when dinosaurs were about.
However, there are some ways of making the notion of the past meaningful to children.
Ordering and sequencing events in their own lives, for example looking at photographs
of themselves as babies and toddlers and comparing with the present day.
Comparisons with 'then' and 'now' can be very successful, particularly if children have
a chance to handle objects from the past and make a direct comparison with now, for
example, comparing the dolly tub with an automatic washing machine.
Many museums run excellent programmes that get children to experience, say, a Victorian
schoolroom, complete with costumes and tasks.
Getting older people to talk to children about the past can be helpful. Children can
question their own parents and grandparents for insights about the recent past.
Old newspapers and photographs can provide useful starting points. Children might
search for clues and put them in chronological order.
The geography curriculum encourages children to investigate the physical and human
features of their immediate surroundings and, from this basis, to learn about the
The following activities would contribute to this understanding...
making simple maps, perhaps of home-to-school routes.
reading simple maps by following directions and identifying features.
looking at similarities and differences in locations, for example between a city school
and a village school. Many schools 'twin' to achieve this.
providing opportunities to look carefully at the local environment, giving children a
chance to recognise different uses of land and to notice changes. Children could also
be asked to suggest how their environment could be improved.
noticing and recording the weather and acknowledging its importance and that of the
As children learn through direct experience with the world, much of this learning
should be achieved by going out into the local environment.
This may be to observe certain features, such as buildings or ponds, or to experience
certain conditions, such as wind or snow.
The adult's role here is to focus children's observation and to draw their attention
to relevant features in the environment.
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