Holidays, past and present

Students learn about similarities and differences in family life by comparing the present with the past. They begin to explore the links, and the changes that occur, over time.
Key inquiry question #1: 
How has family life changed or remained the same over time?
Key inquiry question #2: 
How can we show that the present is different from or similar to the past?
Key inquiry question #3: 
How do we describe the sequence of time?

Learning intention

We are learning to:

  • use photos to ask historical questions about the past. 

Success criteria

What I'm looking for:

  • I can use a photograph to describe how life was different in the past.

Student Activities

Holidays in the past

Students discuss similarities and differences from generation to generation by examining the Allen family's holiday photographs.

Number of set tasks: 3

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum History K - 10

A student:

  • HT1-1 communicates an understanding of change and continuity in family life using appropriate historical TERMS
  • HT1-4 demonstrates skills of historical inquiry and communication 


Comprehension: chronology, terms and concepts

  • distinguish between the past, present and future (ACHHS032, ACHHS048)

Use of sources

  • explore and use a range of sources about the past (ACHHS034, ACHHS050)
  • identify and compare features of objects from the past and present (ACHHS035, ACHHS051)

Empathetic understanding

  • recognise that people on the local community may have lived differently in the past


  • pose questions about the past using sources provided (ACHHS033, ACHHS049)

Explanation and communication

  • develop a narrative about the past (ACHHS037, ACHHS053)
  • use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies (ACHHS038, ACHHS054)
  • Continuity and change: some things change over time and others remain the same
  • Cause and effect: events, decisions or developments in the past that produce later actions, results or effects
  • Empathetic understanding: developing an understanding of another’s views, life and decisions made

Learning across the curriculum

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and communication technology capability

Differences in family structures and roles today, and how these have changed or remained the same over time (ACHHK028)

Differences and similarities between students' daily lives and life during their parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods, including family traditions, leisure time and communications. (ACHHK030)

How the present, past and future are signified by terms indicating time such as ‘a long time ago’, ‘then and now’, ‘now and then’, ‘old and new’, ‘tomorrow’, as well as by dates and changes that may have personal significance, such as birthdays, celebrations and seasons (ACHHK029)


  • discuss similarities and differences from generation to generation
  • define and use terms relating to time, sequencing objects or photographs from the past

Activity notes for teachers

The Allen family was a wealthy family who lived in Sydney around 1900.

Mr Allen loved to take photos of his family and carefully put them into photo albums with commentaries. 

Students will use photos from the Allen family's photo album to discover what family holidays were like in the past.

This learning activity is designed to help students identify and understand the similarities and differences between leisure time in their lives and in the past.

Featured Content

Iconic Australian Photography

Caption on bottom

To download the Iconic Australian Photography transcript, click here.

Background notes for teachers

Discuss the following with your students:

Holidays have changed from what they were like in the past. There are many reasons for these changes. One reason is the change in technology. For example:

  • Now we can go on a plane to another city or country in a few hours or days.  But 100 years ago passenger planes were not around.
  • Now we can get in a car and drive to other states. But 100 years ago cars were rare and roads were rough and bumpy.
  • Now we can watch colour 3D movies at home on the TV. But 100 years ago TV wasn’t invented and movies were still in black and white and silent.

Did you know the first commercial movie with sound was not shown until 1923? 100 years ago museums were popular but zoos were still fairly new. Theme parks like Dreamworld, Sea World and Movie World did not exist. Australian culture has changed over time, and this has changed how we play and where we go on holidays.