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Open with the unusual

Becky Hewlitt samples activities to begin history lessons

Badger Key Stage 3 History Starters

By Phil Suggitt

Badger Publishing pound;25 each


These three books of ready-to-use starter activities fit the bill perfectly. The key stage 3 strategy for the foundation subjects stresses the importance of active, engaging and thought-provoking activities to get lessons off to a flying start.

Phil Suggitt provides a wide range of easily photocopiable starter activities. Book one covers Year 7 - what is history?, the Roman empire and medieval history. Book two covers Year 8 - the making of the UK, and Britain 1750-1900, and book three is useful for Year 9 and GCSE.

The wide range of starters on offer here prevents repetition. The activities include sequencing cards, spotting the difference, drawing keyword icons and interpreting diagrams. They all take five to 10 minutes to complete and are easily prepared.

These activities would be an inspirational and time-saving addition to any history department - an immediate and painless improvement to teaching and learning.

Anyone inspecting a lesson starting with such activities as these could not fail to be impressed by the imaginative use of source material and the pupils' responses.

We particularly enjoyed using the cleverly chosen photographs - for example, one of a woman having a line drawn down her leg and another of an elephant in a farmer's field. My Year 9 group had some hilarious ideas about what these pictures could mean. The lady having "stockings" applied was "drawing trousers on" and the evacuated elephant was there because "they were hungry due to rationing and you get a lot of meat from an elephant".

In fairness to my class they had been told to be as imaginative as possible and most of them did give the correct answer.

My only reservation is that some of the photographs are in colour and many teachers don't have access to a colour copier. Perhaps a pack of ready-to-use OHTs could be issued with further editions? But at a time when resources are increasingly limited, these books would be worth pound;25 of any departmental budget.

Becky Hewlitt is head of history at Windsor High School, Halesowen, West Midlands

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