A source of rich pickings

1st December 1995 at 00:00
LONGMAN A SENSE OF HISTORY KEY STAGE 1 Supplementary KS1 Pack including New Teacher's Supplement, 8 Topic Books (Holidays, Famous People Today, Famous People in the Past, Every Year, Castles, Food, Playground Games, Traditional Clothes) 8 new Topic posters Longman Pounds 49.50. - 0 582 24647 4A

LONGMAN SENSE OF HISTORY KEY STAGE 2 Tudor Times Evaluation Pack including Teacher's Book, Tudor Chronicle, Tudor Life, Your Tudor Locality, 8 posters and 3 audio cassettes Longman Pounds 55. - 0 582 246448 2A

TEACHER'S SUPPLEMENTS: Romans, Saxons, Vikings - 0 582 24628 8. Ancient Greece - 0 582 24627 X. Ancient Egypt - 0 582 24630 X. Aztecs. - 0 582 24650 4. Victorian Britain. - 0 582 24629 6A. Britain since 1930 - 0 582 24626 1A Longman Pounds 3.50 each Age range 5-11

Gillian Temple assesses Longman's updated primary materials

Longman's A Sense of History series is already a trusted mainstay for teaching primary history. The new packs for key stages 1 and 2 will be a welcome addition to many schools' resources, particularly as each section of the packs can be bought separately. Together with revised teacher's supplements for all the original topics at key stage 2, Longman has successfully brought the series up to date with the new Order for history.

The key stage 1 pack contains eight new topic book titles, eight accompanying A2 laminated posters, and a teacher's guide. Each topic book attractively blends pictorial evidence and accompanying text, though unfortunately in only 16 pages, whereas the original titles were more usually 24. They have clear contents and indexes. The pictures show real sources, unlike the over-the-top artist illustrations which bedevil many key stage 1 texts. Where reconstructions are used, they encourage children's understanding of interpretation.

Focusing on everyday life, the new titles start with the present then move back through time with a laudable lack of "long, long agos". Three of the new titles bravely tackle that thorn of the key stage 1 curriculum, "famous people and events". Famous People Today and Famous People in the Past each select three candidates (try guessing which!) but more importantly, give one the confidence to choose one's own.

Every Year is a less successful overview of annual British and multicultural celebrations, but again provides a starting point. All the posters, if used as advised, will easily repay the investment.

The Cinderella of any pack, however, tends to be the teacher's book. The new key stage 1 teacher's supplement deserves a better fate. It gives clear, practical advice on how to promote children's understanding in history, through "experiences that are genuinely and exclusively historical", for each new topic.

Unfortunately, the teacher then has to decide to which of their suggested cross-curricular classroom activities this applies (unlike the original teacher's book). A few copymasters and suggested topic webs are included and the guidance on assessment and the Office for Standards in Education is appropriate but not extensive. Most of the guidance in the original teacher's book is also still relevant, and deserves another look.

At key stage 2, The Tudor Times Pack builds on existing Longman materials, but can equally well stand alone. There are three classroom texts. A Tudor Chronicle gives a useful, if challenging overview of events 1485-1603. Tudor Life focuses on the country, town and court life and the new Your Tudor Locality, offers practical local clues to look out for. All the books encourage interaction with real historical sources and having the text available on audio cassette increases their flexibility.

The eight accompanying A2 laminated posters would be a joy in any classroom. As with key stage 1, the strength of the teacher's book is its clear guidance on how to deliver the new Order through the Tudors. However, it will probably be the bank of copymasters that will attract most attention.

The other key stage 2 supplements are designed as a new-Order update for Longman's existing materials. They are slim but useful, particularly for non-specialists. They all contain succinct planning and assessment advice, including tips on coping with OFSTED and can provide an insight into the units even for those without Longman resources.

In revising and extending A Sense of History to meet the new Order, Longman have continued their tradition of offering high quality classroom materials and practical advice in an affordable and flexible way.

Gillian Temple is history adviser for Devon

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