History Lines - The essential companion to the new history curriculum for Key stage 2 and 3!

What is History Lines? History Lines is a comprehensive resources that covers history as set out in the new National Curriculum. Its focus is on British history, but it includes views of Europe and the Wider World. It aims to:

  • Help primary pupils to understand the main concepts and aspects of History required by the new curriculum.
  • Assist primary teachers who may not have a history background to teach history
  • Provide secondary history teachers and pupils with a starting point for more in depth study

Where does History Lines fit in the Curriculum? History Lines is organized into the major periods of British history. Each period is structured around 9 main themes relating to political, military, social, economic and cultural history. It can therefore be used either to study a particular period, or to follow a theme through history – just as the National Curriculum document suggests. Each period also has a section of what everyday life was like for the people of the time.

What is said about History Lines: “History Lines is a great tool because there is nowhere else with such an accessible and comprehensive coverage of British history, and arranged so that pupils can look at history either period by period or theme by theme.” Peter Britton History Advisor

Using the Site: Overview History Lines has been designed to make History entertaining and accessible to a wide range of age groups and different reading levels. The coverage of each period and theme means that the site should be sufficient to meet the curriculum needs of pupils at both Key Stages 2 and 3. Teachers may also profitably use the site with Key Stage 4 pupils, or as a reference for their own investigations.

Site Structure: The site encourages the content to be approached in one of two ways – ‘Periods’ or ‘Themes’. This gives users the choice of surveying a particular period, or following a particular theme through time. In this way, teachers and pupils have flexibility in the way they approach the curriculum.

The Home Page – Periods: On the home page of the website pupils can gain one-click access any of 12 historical periods by clicking on the period picture tab. The site content covers all British history, from prehistoric times right through to the present day. There is also overview coverage of European and World history at the different periods.

The Period Home Pages – Themes: When you click on a period picture tab, you will go to the home page for that period. You will see the information has been divided into 9 themes. The themes are the same for each period, covering similar subject matter. The amount of information provided, however, varies. This takes account of appropriate emphases which should be given to different themes and topics from period to period (for example technology should be given higher billing in Victorian times than in Anglo-Saxon times), or reflects our different levels of knowledge of the eras covered. For each theme you will see there is a choice to take a tour or access the theme information.

Making the Information: Accessible Within each theme, the site’s content is built up of smaller sections or ‘bites’ of information. Each section or information bite can be accessed at three different levels:

  • A brief summary heading
  • Some additional information
  • More detailed information, sometimes including more difficult to understand concepts

Taking a Tour: Each section or bite of information has a heading. If you look through the section headings within a particular theme, you will see that, taken together, they give an overview of the theme’s subject matter. This is the information your pupils will get if they choose to ‘take a tour’ of any theme, from the period home page. These ‘tours’ have been designed to allow pupils to quickly get a handle on a theme, and it also allows children, who find larger amounts of text challenging, to gain an overall understanding of the subject. The picture that accompanies each heading is also to help them gain an understanding of each theme. When pupils enter the site they are only two clicks away from exploring any theme from any historical period.

Exploring a Theme in More Depth: If, from the home page for each period, you click on ‘information’ rather than ‘take a tour’, or, after you have taken the tour, you click outside the tour box, you will find you are on a page that still contains the section headings and a thumbnail of the pictures, but underneath is a small amount of text. This introduces the topic covered by the section or bite, and provides outline coverage of it. The level of the text in these introductions is designed for all pupils. For those pupils for whom reading is easy, then the ‘more’ button in each section will give them access to more in-depth treatments of the topics.

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