History Teaching Tips

History Stage 1: Celebrations

This post is to be the first in a series which I hope will provide lots of lesson ideas (using objects of course!) for History classes using the Australian Curriculum. And where better to start than with Stage 1 and the topic of family celebrations.

This activity suits outcomes HT1-2 Identifies and describes significant people, events, places and sites in the local community over time and HT1-4 Demonstrates skills of historical inquiry and communication.

Content: “Identify days, holidays, events celebrated by students and their families and discuss cultural differences in days celebrated.”

Choose a family activity – maybe a celebration! I might decide to pick Christmas. In this case I may bring to class a cracker, a photo of my family eating Christmas lunch together and a decoration from my Christmas tree. These objects will act as clues.

I might start by showing my students the cracker; they can pass it around and look more closely at it. As they examine the objects, I would begin to ask them open-ended questions like “What do you think this object is?” and “What do you think this object might be used for?” A great method for gathering information and using evidence to make conclusions is Harvard’s Visible Thinking Routine called See Think Wonder. I really like it because it breaks down into logical steps the process of analysing sources and helps students not to jump to conclusions.

Ultimately, the goal is for students to use evidence to conclude what the family activity is as represented by the objects or ‘clues’.

But at a deeper level, students can be encouraged to think about how they discovered that information and to draw out detailed information about the celebration represented. Perhaps they might discover that I have a Christmas tree, that I spend time with my family, that I have turkey for lunch etc. etc.

A great variation would be to ask students to bring in clues for their own family celebrations. This would enable a variety of celebrations to be discussed and compared. Encourage your class to think about why students brought in different clues for the same type of celebration and notice that students celebrate different types of celebrations with their families. This is great for developing skills in empathetic understanding and perspectives!

If you try this activity in your classroom, let us know how it went!



  • Activity matches NSW Australian History K-10 Syllabus

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