Teaching Early Stage 1 History: personal and family histories

This resource was developed by Dr Jennifer Lawless, State Library of NSW Fellow 2016.


In Early Stage 1, students have the opportunity to learn about their own History and that of their family. This may include stories from other cultures and parts of the world. Students build on their own understanding of how the past is different from the present. 

The following are teaching ideas for this stage that incorporate skills and concepts, with links to the NSW State Library’s teaching and learning collection. The teaching ideas are not in any sequence. Teachers should choose those that are suitable for their class and integrate them into their program where relevant.

Syllabus Links

  • What is my History and how do I know?
  • What stories do other people tell about the past?
  • How can stories of the past be told and shared?

Hte-1: communicates stories of their own family heritage and the heritage of others

Hte-2: demonstrates developing skills of historical inquiry and communication.

Throughout the content, the relevant historical skills and concepts should be taught. The skills and concepts of Perspectives and Empathetic understanding have been integrated.

History Skills: How Can We Integrate Them?

Comprehension: chronology, terms & concepts

  • Listen and discuss, recall and retell stories about family
  • Sequence familiar objects and events
  • Distinguish between the past, present and future.


  • a story is read in class and discussion on similarities and differences between families eg (Mem Fox: ‘Whoever You Are’).
  • refer to various artefacts (real or photographs) and discuss which object belongs to the past or the present,  using the terms  then and now or old and new.
  • complete the sentence beginning with, A long time ago ….
  • refer to photographs of stages of life and place them in sequence from childhood to adulthood and explain their sequence.
  • draw their family and discuss the youngest and oldest members.
  • listen to a simple story and place major events/developments in sequence pictorially.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Analysis and Use of Sources

  • Explore and use a range of sources about the past
  • Identify and compare features of objects from the past and present.


  • class discusses ‘how do we know about our family’? (photographs, letters, artefacts, stories)
  • describe the oldest object that they have at home. Does it tell a story of their family?
  • look carefully at chosen artefacts, draw them and discuss what they may have been used for and what might be used today in their place.
  • sequence simple objects from photos eg irons, telephones.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Perspectives and Interpretations (Skill & Concept)

  • People from the past (or present) may hold different points of view about events, beliefs etc.
  • Explore a point of view and understanding that stories may vary depending on who is the narrator.


  • discuss how families may celebrate birthdays and holidays differently.
  • listen to a simple story from two different perspectives of characters in the story eg Grandma and the wolf in Red Riding Hood or Baby bear and Goldilocks. Why do they differ?

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Empathetic Understanding (Skill & Concept)

  • Students attempt to develop an understanding of another person’s point of view, life experiences, and decisions made in both the past and present.
  • Recognize differences and similarities between individuals and families in the past and present.


  • examine photos of families from the past and discuss how these families are similar or different to their own today (they may note the family has many members, wear different clothes etc).
  • explore how they are similar and/or different from their classmates.
  • on a world map displayed in class, place a marker showing each child’s heritage.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:


  • Pose questions about the past using sources provided.


  • examine selected photographs/artefacts and suggest questions they would like to ask about them.

Explanation and Communication

  • Develop a narrative about the past
  • Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies.


  • draw the oldest object they have at home and describe them to the class.
  • digitally place objects into Old or New categories.
  • role play different stages in their lives.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Historical Concepts: How Can We Integrate Them?

Continuity and Change

This concept refers to a sequence of events and developments over time that may show how things have changed over time or remained much the same.

  • Changes and continuities in their own lifetime and that of their families.


  • refer to a photograph of themselves as a baby and describe how they have changed over time.
  • refer to family photographs from the past and describe how they have changed (new brothers or sisters etc).

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Cause and effect

Students can develop a simple understanding of reasons why an event or development happened and the effects or results of the event or development.

  • Simple cause and effect in the past and present.


  • consider what happens when the last school bell rings at the end of the day.


We cannot teach everything in the past, so historians choose ‘significant’ or important events or individuals to research. What is significant to one person may not be so important to another. How do we decide?

  • Important events in students’ own lives; the meaning of special days/holidays.


  • bring a treasured object/toy from home and explain why they are special or significant. They may not be significant to others.
  • discuss their most important day of the year ( a birthday? Christmas?)

State Library of NSW Learning Sequences and Resources for Early Stage 1

Family Photo Album

Students learn how the stories of families and the past can be communicated.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Students learn about their own history and that of their families.

When We Were Babies

Students learn about their own history and that of their family.