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Archaeology and the National Curriculum: Part 2

I did intend to address the issue of how archaeology can be used to teach the whole of the National Curriculum in England more regularly than I seem to be doing.  However, due to a busy couple of weeks, this is the first chance I have had to sit down and think about it since my last post about it (Can the whole of the National Curriculum be taught through Archaeology?).

So, after KS1 English EN1 Speaking and Listening, we come to KS1 English EN2 Reading…

Unsurprisingly, I believe children can be “taught to read with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment” using texts that have the past and archaeology as their theme.

The English programme of study states that children “should be taught phonemic awareness and phonic knowledge to decode and encode words, including to: a. hear, identify, segment and blend phonemes in words in the order in which they occur b. sound and name the letters of the alphabet c. identify syllables in words d. recognise that the same sounds may have different spellings and that the same spellings may relate to different sounds e. read on sight high-frequency words and other familiar words f. recognise words with common spelling patterns g. recognise specific parts of words, including prefixes, suffixes, inflectional endings, plurals h. link sound and letter patterns, exploring rhyme, alliteration and other sound patterns

It is possible to prepare reading material with these objectives in mind, and there are already plenty of published children’s books that have archaeology and the past as their theme.  A quick search on Amazon will reveal some that are pertinent to KS1.

All of the ‘Understanding Texts’ objectives, listed below, can also be taught and reinforced using such books. i. understand how word order affects meaning j. decipher new words, and confirm or check meaning k. work out the sense of a sentence by re-reading or reading ahead l. focus on meaning derived from the text as a whole m. use their knowledge of book conventions, structure, sequence and presentational devices n.draw on their background knowledge and understanding of the content.

In addition, much of this can be done naturally. As children find out about the past, whilst “reading for information”, they will… a. use the organisational features of non-fiction texts, including captions, illustrations, contents, index and chapters, to find information b. understand that texts about the same topic may contain different information or present similar information in different ways c. use reference materials for different purposes.

Likewise, reading fiction, which is either set in the past, about the past or traditional tales, children will be able “to develop their understanding of fiction, poetry and drama” and thus… a. identify and describe characters, events and settings in fiction b. use their knowledge of sequence and story language when they are retelling stories and predicting events c. express preferences, giving reasons d. learn, recite and act out stories and poems e. identify patterns of rhythm, rhyme and sounds in poems and their effects f. respond imaginatively in different ways to what they read [for example, using the characters from a story in drama, writing poems based on ones they read, showing their understanding through art or music].

I was just about to write that I wasn’t sure how many historical/archaeological based poems there were out there for children, when I thought I should just ‘Google’ it to see. Low and behold, a whole raft of sites about historical poems for children are out there!  For example, there is a Kindle e-book called Ancient Greece for Kids, fun and educational poems! I am not, however, vouching for the quality of these poems in any way, so please don’t take this as a recommendation; I am merely pointing out an example of what is available.

Anyway, as children then read these texts they will experience “language structure and variation”, and as they do so, they can be encouraged to read texts with greater accuracy and understanding,  [and] be taught about the characteristics of different types of text [for example, beginnings and endings in stories, use of captions].

As for the breadth of study, the list of material has really been covered above, albeit perhaps implicitly. For those who may want to see the list in full, here it is:

stories and poems with familiar settings and those based on imaginary or fantasy worlds stories, plays and poems by significant children’s authors retellings of traditional folk and fairy stories (historical in themselves) stories and poems from a range of cultures (ethnoarchaeology) stories, plays and poems with patterned and predictable language stories and poems that are challenging in terms of length or vocabulary texts where the use of language benefits from being read aloud and reread print and ICT-based information texts, including those with continuous text and relevant illustrations dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference materials. All of these are accessible.

So far so good…!


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