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Teaching and Learning ideas and activities

This list of activities and ideas will be updated regularly. I intend to put examples of activities that I've enjoyed using and that pupils have responded very well to on this section. I don't want it to be a list of lesson plans though - it will simply contain resources and a brief overview of what I intended.

Activity / Resources Description

Dealing with the Depression

Single resource including:

  1. Task instructions for pupils
  2. Situation cards for 6 groups
  3. 6 'Change' cards


Created for a group following the AQA Modern World syllabus. This activity places students in one of 6 groups which represent different areas of America geographically and / or socially. Each group is provided with a brief summary of what their circumstances are prior to the Wall Street Crash. Te are asked to think about several focus questions and prepare responses to these. Following this initial research / checking of knowledge the groups are then given 'change' cards. These are fairly general statements that provide an impression of how the economy changed in the days and months following the Wall Street Crash. Groups need to think fast and work out how best they would respnd to these changes. To make things worse for them, and to simulate 'real life' a little better, further changes are given out without warning. The grops circumstances, thoughts and action plans for dealing with the circumstances are checked at appropriate points to ensure understanding and to give everybody the 'big picture'. I then conclude the activity with brief presenations by each group that focus on how the changes affected them (in role) and what they tried to do to make the most of the situation they were presented with. This allows a range of different results of the Crash to be identified and shows that the impact was not only varied in terms of severity but also that the timescale of 'Depression' may have differed from group to group.


Medical Monopoly

Two MS Word downloads

Board and suggested rules

Question sets


A fairly simple but very effective revision game. This is based on the game board 'Monopoly' and uses a pretty similar format. When I've used this with classes I've normally allowed them to use the rules I include here as a set of ideas that they can adapt - this has normally led to quick and easy use of the game rather than hours wading through the rules etc.

How to use it? Simple really. Give them the board, some dice and the questions and let them get on with it. As this version is limited in terms of time period I've sometimes given follow up tasks of creating question sets on additional factors and periods.

Medieval Medicine

Four MS Word downloads


Notes for teachers

Activity sheet - doctors

Activity sheet - patients

Medieval medicine is a combination of game, role-play and revision exercise. It combines researched material with simulation to allow students to further develop their understanding of Medicine during the medieval era.

The game allows for discreet differentiation, allowing students of all abilities to access the exercise. More able students would find the role of the doctors particularly challenging as these roles can be used to encourage detailed research prior to the activity and an acute awareness of the beliefs systems and treatments during the exercise. Lower attaining students will be able to develop their understanding of the range of treatment types, and should have developed an awareness of the differing sets of belief that were prevalent during the Middle ages.

This works best ina VERY big room - I've done in it the sportshall whever possible, using tables as doctors surgeries - also provides a lot of 'waiting rooms' in which pupils can wait their turn and write up notes etc.

The impact of the Industrial Revolution

One MS Word download including:

  1. Situation cards for 6groups
  2. 4 change cards


This activity was designed for my more able students in Year 9 a few years ago.

Students are placed into 6 groups. Each group receives a brief description of who they are and what their interests are. They have to consider the developments thhat happen over a period of around 100 years and explain the consequences of these and the likely reaction to these events by people whom they've been asked to empathise with.

I've run the activity in two ways. First say in groups acting as political pressure groups trying to persuade the council (me) to make changes best suited to their interests. The developments are given to groups at irregular intervals so that they have to think quickly and focus their discussions.

The second method was to ask several students to stand as a local MP. They were canvassing the opinions of te electorate - and things changed during this process. Resources in addition to those below were also used for this version.

This activity is one that is included in the Active Learning seminar on the History Teachers' Discussion Forum. Click here to visit the seminar for related ideas.

Creating a radio programme - Public Health

Varied resources:

Workshop plans

Recording at the Radio station and follow up session plans

The Radio programme - .wma format

Unlike the other activities this selection is very much a series of lesson plans. However, please don't let that put you off! I've included these as I think it's a good example of how you can hit a range of objectives.

The activities noted show a progression through some of the lessons involved in creating a radio documentary programme from scratch. This includes use of the Critical Skills model to share learning between students, of peer, slef and adult assessment of drafts and practice sessions and hopefully it illustrates highly effective ways of differentiating in a number of ways in one sequence of lessons.

Note - HMI observed 3 hours of this sequence and it was deemed to be "outstanding in all respects." The one and only time I've heard an inspector say what they thought in front of students!





































HIGHLY recommended

The following links are to exercises on or the SHP website.

These actiities are listed chronologically, with overview activities at the beginning of the list. You can search for activities by Key Stage, Activity Type and by period of time by going to This will also ensure that you have access to the most recent deelopments from this website.

For Birthday Present Ideas visit Gizoo – the UK’s top gifts and gadgets website.


Punishments through Time

An introductory activity that will get students thinking and asking questions and will reinforce their chronological understanding

Big Ideas in Medical History

A grand overview, creating a physical timeline across the room and asking students to identify the big medical ideas of each era

Germs have feelings too! A Lifeline

A valuable revision activity for GCSE, telling the story of the germ!

Public Health through the Ages

A living graph that examines change, continuity and significance in the history of Public Health

Historical Speed Dating: Medicine and Health through Time

Can your students find their ideal match and improve their knowledge of medicine through time? Flowers and chocolates optional!

Comparative Lifetimes

A group activity for comparing periods of history – good for KS2 and KS3 – good for A level synoptic understanding.

Wine Gums, Timelines and Really Big Overviews

The only edible timeline in existence, guaranteed to stretch and develop students’ chronological understanding.

Who would you most like to meet at the Year 7 party?

An end of year overview activity. Bring your own jelly and ice cream.

Which ‘Big Events’ were most important in KS3 History?

An overview activity for the end of KS3.

Which people were the most significant in KS3 History?

An overview activity for the end of KS3 that asks students to think about significance.

Pre 1066

Equipping a Roman Soldier

Load a legionary with his equipment and change pupils' thinking about the lives of Roman soldiers

Romans & Wolves (formerly Romulus & Remus)

What’s in the picture? Find out and explore how the Romans saw themselves

Londinium 60AD

A brief play that introduces Boudica’s rebellion – more Blue Peter than Pinter

Boudicca’s Rebellion

Walk through the events and ask pupils to take the key decisions

Thinking skills for Medicine through Time – Creating Memory Frames

Constructing memory frames on PowerPoint that summarise the key points, aiding memory and revision

Change and continuity in Ancient Medicine

Create a physical timeline, using students to represent the periods and key developments in Ancient Medicine

Big Brother meets History of Medicine: Debating Significance

Who was the most significant figure in Ancient Medicine? Was it really Hippocrates or would you chose someone else?

Spotting the BC/AD Forgery

Can your students spot the forgery?


Battle of Hastings: Decisions on the Spur of the Moment? (Groan)

Recreate the battle and help your students understand why the Normans won

Events of 1066. Could it have ended differently?

Create a map of England, walk your pupils through key decisions and see how their chronicles match up to the real thing. (Don't forget the hair dryer!)

Je Suis le Roi. What happened after 1066?

Rebellions, castle-building, changes in land ownership, Danish invasions, the Harrying of the North and William getting angry in French – c'est magnifique

Changes and Continuities: The Impact of the Norman Conquest

A physical, involving and very clear way into the nebulous business of assessing consequences. We're hanging out the consequences on a washing line!


Middle Ages

Thomas Becket Mystery

A physical but non-contact introduction to the murder of Thomas Becket (with card sort activity)

King John in the Hot Seat

A hot-seating activity that can be used at KS3 or extended for use at A Level. RADA qualifications not required!

King John; The Decision–Making Game

Can your students do better than King John or will they lose their crowns?

Meet Oswald of Ormskirk, Medieval Physician

Your script for playing the part of Oswald and answering your student’s questions. Apple juice required!

Black Death comes to Allton

Put your pupils into roles, find out who survives and explore the consequences of the Black Death

Impact of the Black Death: Changes and Continuities

Hang out the effects of the Black Death on a change–continuity washing line

Why did People Rebel in 1381?

Put your students into role as villagers facing the aftermath of the Black Death, French attacks and Poll Taxes

Wars in the Middle Ages – what was going on?

The Crusades, the Hundred Years War & Edward I’s British wars – all in one lesson

Why were medieval kings deposed?

A role play – will your nobles depose the king?

Beginnings of the Wars of the Roses: 1452–1455

A role–play introduction to the people and events for A level and above



Henry Tudor's Road to the Throne

Create a living graph to show just how unlikely a king Henry Tudor really was

Henry VII's Use of Bonds

You play the part of Henry VII and your students are the nobles - how will they feel about bonds?

Henry VIII, Wolsey and Europe 1509-1529

Turn your room into a map of Europe and chart Henry's road to glory – or failure

Dissolution of the Monasteries

A role play that focusses on people and the importance of monasteries to communities

Elizabeth I and Europe in 1558

You'll need to move the furniture for this one – but it clearly, simply and painlessly explains the power situation in Europe in 1558. On the SHP website

Why did the Armada fail?

Tell the story of the Armada by turning your pupils into ships and develop their understanding of causation and interpretations

Pare, Vesalius and Henri II

Report the big news of 1559; simulate the work of Pare and Vesalius as they struggle to save Henri II; identify key aspects of Renaissance Medicine

Pare - Why did it happen then?

Explore the reasons why Pare made his surgical breakthrough by creating a mobile factors web. On the SHP website

Civil War comes to Deerhurst

A role play for A Level students who take the roles of the leading villagers of Deerhurst, dealing with the pressures put on them by Royalists and Parliamentarians

Who Will Hang? Unpredictability of the Bloody Code

Bring the accused to court to tell their stories. Can the rest of the class predict who will receive the death penalty? Why was the legal system so unpredictable?

Great Cheese Mystery

What's it about? That would be telling. Better click here and find out!

Would you become a highwayman? Explaining the causes of crime

Turn your students into causes and get the rest of the class to sort out the rise and fall of highway robbery. Sadly, no masks or horses required.



Smugglers Ahoy: Tea for Sale

Why was 18th century smuggling so profitable, and so accepted? On the SHP website

Turnpikes: Mobilising the Transport Revolution

Recreate the journey times before and after turnpikes and revolutionise understanding

Inventions, Inventions!

Find the connections and show how one invention led to another and transformed the textile industry

Pre–1832 Election Game

A role play that’s simply not fair – but very good for learning

Did the Train Arrive on Time?

Liven up the railway revolution with a trip from Stockton to Darlington

Shall we join the Chartists?

Test your acting skills and get your students researching Chartism with renewed interest and purpose

Lister's Antiseptic spray

Explore the difficulties Lister must have had in using the carbolic spray and perhaps discover why he faced so much opposition. Activity by Ian Luff, on the SHP website


1900 & After

Salvarsan - Guiding the Psychopathic Germ Killer

This activity explains simply, but powerfully, why Salvarsan was effective, but risky. Activity by Ian Luff, on the SHP website

Failure of the Schlieffen Plan

Walk your students through the map of Europe and make your decisions - then discover the grim reality

Stalin, Trotsky & the struggle for power after Lenin

Sally Burnham demonstrates how these complex events can be readily assimilated (by jody). Chocolate biscuits an essential resource!

Weimar Republic Party Games

Help your A Level students get to grips with all those Weimar acronyms

Hyperinflation Crisis in Germany

Can your students buy a bar of chocolate before their money runs out?

Germany 1918–1939; Living Timeline

An active overview of key events that creates more complex explanations

Role-playing Unemployment in the 1930s

Make the Depression personal and enhance students' understanding

Re-packaging the Alphabet Agencies and the New Deal

Turn a difficult topic into an enjoyable, effective and inspirational lesson

Rhineland Occupation Game

Were the politicians of the 1930s really blunderers?

South Africa in the 1930’s & 40’s: A Living Timeline

An active overview that’s challenging, enjoyable and effective

Why did the RAF win the Battle of Britain?

Simulate the rival qualities of Spitfires and Messerschmitts and give your students more fire power in their explanations (by jody at testsforge)

World War Two Living Graph

A really good overview activity that helps students to see the patterns in all those events.

Cuban Missile Crisis

A gloriously simple way to make your students’ understanding far more sophisticated

Gerrymandering in Northern Ireland

Your chance to fiddle the votes and improve your students’ understanding



Making sense of BC and AD

Turn you pupils into a timeline and accelerate their understanding of vital chronological terms

Outlining Historiography at A Level

Create a timeline showing why interpretations change

Timelines for Understanding Duration

Simple techniques for developing a key aspect of chronological understanding

Who's Round the Table?

Help your A level students remember who was who

Physical Family Trees

Ever confused Mary Tudor and Mary, Queen of Scots? A simple way of disentangling the Marys and many other confusing people.

What's on the Agenda?

Get your next A level topic off to a demanding start by turning your class into the royal council, the cabinet or the Politburo.

Digging Up a Mystery

A motivating and fun way to start a topic – all the way from KS2 to A level

Bits & Pieces: Using Clues to Reconstruct the Past

Demonstrate how we use clues to reconstruct the past. A shattering experience for all!





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Recommended Books related to teaching history highly recommends these sites: - new site aiming to provide an accessible narrative for GCSE History pupils. - fantastic range of interactive games, revision materials and links. - outstanding use of ICT to engage pupils. - a brilliant range of learning activities from Ian Dawson - simply the best for Modern World GCSE students - resources and CPD materials from the Historical Association. - make your lessons 'real' with artefacts and living history provided by experts - same author as this site, just put together in a slightly different way! - all new resources for teachers and pupils of the SHP Medicine course - A new site providing resources for teachers and pupils of the Crime and Punishment unit Militaria - a range of interesting pieces of militaria is available via tihs site
The Turkey Inn, Goose Eye, Oakworth - great historical public house with loads of great beer and a lovely atmosphere