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Let's celebrate

Students investigate what old photos can tell us about celebrations in the past and research how, what and why people celebrate in the past and present. 
Key inquiry question #1: 
How can we show that the present is different from or similar to the past?
Key inquiry question #2: 
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

Let's celebrate

Investigate what old photos can tell us about celebrations in the past and investigate how, what and why people celebrate in the past and present. 

Number of set tasks: 4

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum History K-10

A student:

  • ​HT 1-4 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)


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

Explanation and communication

  • 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
  • Perspectives: people from the past will have different views shaped by their experiences
  • Significance: importance of an event, development or individual/group

Learning across the curriculum

  • Literacy
  • Intercultural understanding

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).

Students will:

  • identify days, holidays, events celebrated by students and their families and discuss cultural differences in days celebrated
  • define and use terms relating to time, sequencing objects or photographs from the past using terms such as then and now, past and present, a long time ago.

Activity 1: teachers notes

Let's celebrate!

Investigate what old photos can tell us about celebrations in the past – how, what and why people celebrated.

Ask students to:

  1. Look carefully at the photos.
  2. Pay particular attention to the people in each photo and what each person is doing.
  3. Look for symbols that tell us about the celebration (e.g. Olympic rings and dragon)

Answer the questions:

  • What are they celebrating?
  • How do you know?
  • Are these photos from the past or the present? How do you know?

Birthday celebrations

Use the photograph of a ninth birthday party to discuss celebrations.

Ask students:

How can you tell this is a celebration?
Is this image from the past of the present? How do you know?
What do you need for a celebration? Think about food, clothing and venue.
How did you celebrate your last birthday?
Draw a picture or write about an exciting place where you would like to celebrate your next birthday party.