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Play the trump card

Joanne Jones describes a game that can give children a sense of chronology

One of the major concerns in children's perception of history these days is the lack of a sense of chronology.

Primary history today is taught in chunks, or topics such as Romans, Victorians or Greeks, and children often have a poor concept of how these periods relate to each other.

One way I overcome this is with a chronology game which I use each time a new topic is introduced in our mixed Year 56 class.

The game consists of a series of cards with pictures of art work, famous names, events, dates and pictures of buildings associated with each of the periods studied in key stage 2, each series mounted on cards of different colours.

There is also a card naming each period: Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Tudors, Victorians.

The game begins with giving the cards to some of the children who then come and stand at the front. The rest of the class then have to arrange the card-holders in chronological order by moving an individual and explaining where they are putting them and why.

Once the whole class is happy with the order, a further card is produced showing the birth of Jesus and asking where it should go. Once the children have established that this falls within the Roman period, the first lot of cards are stuck with Blu-Tack to the board and the remainder are given out.

Children then take it in turns to affix their cards to the appropriate place on the timeline, explaining why. This can be done at random, as a combination of items, or in matching series - for example, famous people or buildings.

The project can be differentiated by giving less able children more easily identifiable pictures, while images with less obvious names or ideas are given to higher-ability children.

A noisier approach that is possible with a small class is to merely give out all the cards and ask children to "find their family", as in a party game.

At each stage, children have to justify why they are adding their card to a particular period and other children can challenge them to explain why.

Once all the cards have been affixed to the timeline in the correct position a variety of games can be played with them. For example, four children can come to the front and see who is first to extract the appropriate card from a clue given by another member of the class, who then takes their place at the front.

Again, differentiation is possible and assessment of understanding can take place from the subtlety of the clues given by class members.

Joanne Jones is class teacher and literacy co-ordinator at Gipsey Bridge School, Lincolnshire

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