From past to present
The beauty of this activity, which I have used with both infants and juniors, is that it needs little preparation. It introduces the notion of scanning material into the computer to children in a simple manner that allows them to manipulate actual images. This particular example is based around comparisons between "then" and "now" during history sessions, although you could easily adapt it for other topics and subjects, such as labelling and classifying in maths and science.
All you need is a software package, such as Microsoft imaging, which allows pupils to annotate pictures in a variety of ways and enables the teacher to differentiate tasks according to age and ability.
To begin with, scan in two photographs - one from the past and one taken recently - of a road near your school. When you have scanned the images, place them on to the same page. If the computers are all networked, save the page to a file which it can be accessed by all computers.
Next, ask the children to find and open the page and familiarise themselves with some of the features in the photographs before going for a walk around your town or village. After this, they can look at the old image and discuss comparisons with the modern one. At their computer screens, and working on their own saved versions of the images, the children can simply click on an object that they have identified as not being present on the old photo, but which is on the new one, or vice versa, and drag a freehand line around it.
Next, they can add a text box, which allows them to explain why they have selected particular objects. Once the children have annotated their picture, they can hide their notes by clicking on the "hide annotations" option.
They can then swap files and compare notes, which allows them to find out what objects or features they have missed. This can be the starting point for discussions about old and new, during which you can introduce historical vocabulary and clarify any misconceptions they have.
It's easy to differentiate the activity within a year group as well as within a single class and, if each year group undertakes a similar activity and saves it, it is also a good way for the history co-ordinator to monitor and assess the teaching and learning of chronology across the school.
Elaine Dawe teaches at Pucklechurch Primary School in Bristol