History & Geography

We are historians and geographers!

At St Mary’s we aim to deliver History and Geography topics which enables them to become confident, creative and independent learners who learn about their local and wider world surroundings. We seek to broaden children’s real-life experiences both inside and outside of school through educational visits, visitors, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Within our carefully selected History and Geography topics, our children acquire a range of knowledge and skills in which they can then apply to other subjects and in a variety of situations. Furthermore, it is our aim that through historical and geographical learning, children will become global citizens, understanding their role in protecting our world and environment and knowing how they can cause positive change and development as they grow.

Each topic has an over-arching question and each lesson has a subsidiary question which leads to an enquiry of learning. Within each topic, lessons follow carefully planned sequences which support children to build on their previous knowledge and skills whilst learning new content. Both history and geography lessons take various forms. Throughout each topic there is a balance of practical, hands-on learning, using the outdoors, research gathering and written recording of knowledge.


‘A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.’ Psalm 90:4 

In History the children will begin to learn and apply the skills and processes needed for History by asking and answering questions. They will focus on changes to their local environment, family life and famous people and events from a long time ago. They will then build on this to look at worldwide changes over time, by looking at civilisations and empires and how they shaped the world today. Each History topic in Key Stage 2 is planned and delivered in chronological order.

A girl in Nursery was drawing a picture and chatted about what she was drawing.
“Going to draw my mum.” she said.
She then drew another picture, “It’s my sister.”
“What do you like doing with your family?” asked her teacher.
“Going to the park. We go down the slides and it’s fun.” she shared.

These History photos are from a topic based on the historical concept ‘continuity and change’.

The children discussed and named the toys and games we have explored so far from the past (the 1960s in specific). After discussing how important it is in history to use primary sources of evidence to find out more information about the past the children began developing and asking questions that they wanted to know. We then interviewed a member of staff to find out more about toys and games, and to answer our history question of the day ‘What do adults remember about toys and games in their childhood?’ The children could then compare some of the similarities and differences in toys and games from the past to now.

As a class they then looked through and discussed popular toys from the 1960’s using photographs (secondary sources). They explored which toys they recognised and which toys they were unable to recognise. The children were set the task of working with a partner to use the photographs of the toys to explore what they do and do not tell us about the toys in the 1960s. They had to explain to an adult and each other why the photographs do or do not tell us that information. As a group we began to discuss the change in technology.

These History photos are from the Year 3 topic Vikings.

To start the Vikings topic the children examined primary sources of evidence describing and depicting a terrifying event that happened in AD793. They had to interpret and reason about what we thought had happened. The children discovered that the Vikings, as they are now known, raided Lindisfarne Priory, stealing treasures and killing many of the monks. Some of questions we raised were: Why did they steal from the monks? They travelled in boats, where did they come from? These questions were used to lead the enquiry on Vikings further. Year 3 continued to use different pictorial sources of evidence to speculate whether Viking helmets had horns to answer the question ‘Viking helmets had horns – historical fact or myth?’. When reporting back to the rest of the class, they had to justify their decisions referring to the sources of evidence and prior learning. It is in fact, a myth!

These History photos are from the Year 4 topic Anglo Saxons and Scots.

In History, the children in Year 4 learnt about the Anglo Saxon invasion of Britain and the different events that happened in order for it to be possible. They used different symbols to show the Romans leaving Britain, the invasion of the Picts and Scots from Ireland to Scotland, the different Scottish kingdoms and the settlement of Hengest and Horsa from modern Denmark. They added dates to our maps and labelled the different Saxon kingdoms. They began to compare the maps to modern maps of counties and started to understand how the Saxon invasion changed British history.

They also used role play to explore and explain the Christian conversion of Britain in the Anglo Saxon era. They used freeze frames to show each Saint and their significant contributions and started to try to persuade Anglo Saxons that Christianity was the right choice for them.


‘The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.’  Psalm 104:8 

In Geography the children begin by studying their local environment before broadening their outlook to the wider world. Each topic is planned in sequence across Key Stage 1 and 2 to explore local geography, a comparison to the UK and then a world topic. A variety of skills will be encouraged through research, studying maps and atlases and practical field work activities to develop knowledge about significant places in the world, understanding their physical and human features. Also how physical and human features relate to each other and change over time.

A Reception child was sat at the writing table drawing a picture.
When asked what he was drawing he shared his ideas in great detail.
“This is a map of the beach.”

“You see that circle.” he said pointing to his picture. “That’s where we are. That’s Berwick. The circles are places. Let me try and get a far away one.”

(He then drew a circle further away from the first one which he said was Berwick).

That one there is where I went on my holiday and the place was Devon!” He explained.

Another child had been chatting to his friends about speaking in different languages.
“Ola.” he said. “That means hello.”
“Do you know how I know about the countries. I’ve got a globe.” he added.
“What shape is it?” asked his teacher.
“Sphere.” replied the boy.

These Geography photos are from the topic ‘What can you see from space?’

The children began the topic locating the seven continents and the five oceans of the world. The children began with Europe to locate the seven continents. We used four compass points to describe the location of each continent from Europe and other continents (eg. Africa is south of Europe). The children could understand and use the compass points accurately to locate the continents without using an atlas. The children then continued with their map of the continents to locate the five oceans. They used compass points again to describe the location, but also discussed animals that you would find swimming in the oceans to help the children to locate the oceans.

The Year 2 children then continued to apply their spatial awareness to locate the seven continents and oceans onto a globe (a football!). The children worked in pairs to locate the continents first (from Europe using the four compass points) and then the oceans.

These Geography photos are from the Year 3 topic ‘Why do most volcanoes happen in the same places as earthquakes?’

In the topic ‘Volcanoes and Earthquakes’ the children in Year 3 watched video clips and read information to help them understand how volcanoes are formed. They worked together to construct a papier-mâché volcano. They used different ingredients including vinegar and baking soda to simulate their own volcanic eruption. They also couldn’t resist using Mentos sweets in diet cola to create a more violent volcanic eruption! They lastly worked in small groups to draw and label a diagram of a volcano.

These Geography photos are from the Year 4 topic ‘Is it too late to save our oceans?’

The Year 4 children explored maps of an area of Germany near Hamburg and discussed land features that gave them an idea of how sustainable Germany is. They worked in groups to recreate maps and used symbols to construct a key to represent features including fields, wind farms and recycling centres. We used tape to create grid references and described features we could see in given grid references.

As part of this topic, the children also carried out some Geography fieldwork to explore how sustainable their local area is with their own sustainability survey. They went to Morrison’s and collected data on how people were travelling there, they explored the packaging used on different food items and recorded how far they had travelled to get to the supermarket. Finally, they visited the recycling centre with a shopping list to investigate if everything they could buy at Morrison’s could also be recycled there.

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