Teaching History Through Narrative
When possible history units of work will be taught alongside thematically linked texts during English lessons. For example, when studying the WW2, Year 6 children also study the text ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjama's'. Similarly, Year 3 study the text ‘Stone Age Boy' whilst studying the Stone Age unit.
Reading Across the Curriculum
In order to develop children's reading skills, our teaching staff plan opportunities for children to independently read age-appropriate texts that link to the history topic being studied, or topics that have been previously studied. We have invested heavily in supporting our history topics with a variety of narrative and non-fiction texts that enrich the wider curriculum. Each class has a library full of themed texts that children can access independently as they move through each unit. Whole class reading lessons are also intentionally sequenced to develop children's background knowledge and widen their subject-specific vocabulary. We also believe that diversity and inclusion should run throughout the whole curriculum. We have a clear curriculum map that ensures children explore a range of diverse significant individuals throughout history such as Walter Tull, Katherine Johnson, Trudy Aarons, Amelia Earhart, Dorothy Vaughan and, incorporating significant individuals that affected our local area such as Barrington Young.
The wonder of past worlds - the importance of Historical Fiction
For many the first encounter that we have with history is through story, personal stories of family history or places in our environments. For the story to work, the author must enable the reader to see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the scents, feel the textures of that past time and place. For the historical fiction writer this requires extensive research, in order to enable a valid representation of the past to be created.
Historical fiction is and should be about story and enjoyment. The narrative shapes the tale and in so doing allows us to enter different time periods through the exercise of imagination. There must be a compelling plot with attractive characters or there is no story and we will not want to read on.
Historical fiction can also be used as a source itself by making use of extracts.
The author’s role is to create a visual image in which to set the scene. Take a physical location set within a particular period such as the description of Athens and the hill to the Parthenon in Geoffrey Treece’s Crown of Violet. Read it to the children asking them to think about their senses: what do they see, hear, smell, touch? Now use a plan of the city (https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b6/39/4a/ b6394a8438dc13ed428b9b9ef3eb9c99.png) and get the children to describe their walk from the Agora up the hill. Supplement this with photos of Athenian and Greek countryside (travel brochures are good here) and reconstructions of buildings. Now you can begin to get a feel for Athens at a particular point in time.
Select a series of extracts to demonstrate either a particular theme or the reasons why people acted as they did. Use this to generate discussion and debate, relate to historical context or provide stimulus for further historical research using primary material.
Select a dramatic extract and use it to stimulate creative work alongside contemporary images and possibly sound.
See below for reviews of excellent historical fiction that your children will love to read again and again.