Teaching Stage 1 History: past and present family life

Learning Activity
Schools & Teachers
Teacher Professional Learning

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


In Stage 1, students have the opportunity to learn about present and past family life, their differences and similarities. They are introduced to changes over time and the use of historical sources.

The following are teaching ideas for this stage that incorporate skills and concepts, with links to the State Library of NSW’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

  • How has family life changed or remained the same over time?
  • How can we show that the present is different from or similar to the past?
  • How do we describe the sequence of time?

HT-1-1: communicates an understanding of change and continuity in family life using appropriate historical terms.

HT-1-4: demonstrates 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

  • Discuss and recount stories of family and local history
  • Sequence familiar objects and events
  • Distinguish between the past, present and future.


  • graphically present the structure of their family and explain who is the oldest and youngest.
  • examine photographs of families in the past and discuss similarities and differences from today. Discuss the clues in the photograph that this is from the past.
  • recount stories from parents and grandparents about their lives and pose questions about similarities and differences
  • tell a family story that has been passed down
  • examine photographs and images from the past and discuss using historical terms such as then and now, in the past,  a long time ago...
  • after listening to a story read, students sequence the story line graphically

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.


  • look carefully at chosen objects, 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 from the oldest to the most recent  eg irons, telephones.
  • examine a range of photographs of everyday life from the past and discuss similarities and differences.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Perspectives and Interpretations (Skill and Concept)

People from the past (or present) will have different views shaped by their experiences.

  • Explore a point of view within an historical context


  • discuss how different families may celebrate birthdays and festive days and the reasons why they may be different.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Empathetic Understanding (Skill and Concept)

Students develop an understanding of another’s views, life and decisions made.

  • Recognize that people in the local community may have lived differently in the past – and decisions they may have made.


  • 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 was larger, wore different clothes).
  • choose a figure from a photograph and pose questions they would ask that character about their life. What answer may that character provide?
  • listen to a variety of family stories or the story of a guest speaker to explain why their family came to live in the local community.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:


  • Pose questions about the past using sources provided.


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

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Explanation and Communication

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


  • examine a photograph of past life (eg a streetscape) and explain how life appears to be different and similar to today referring to specific  evidence from the photo.
  • interview an older family member about their school days and explain to class how they differed from today.
  • role play a household task from the past and have class discuss what it may be.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Historical Concepts: How Can We Integrate Them?

Continuity and Change

This concept refers to either change over time or how developments remained much the same.

  • Changes and continuities in family life and the local community over time.


  • refer to a range of family photographs from the past and discuss how they are similar or different from today. What are the clues in the photographs that suggest they are from the past?

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

Cause and effect

Students can develop an understanding of reasons why events or developments in the past produced later actions, results or effects.

  • How everyday life has changed over time.


  • consider how a particular invention (eg the telephone or the automobile) changed lives and the ability to communicate and travel.
  • examine a photograph of a streetscape from the past and explain what is different from today.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:


The importance of an event, development or individual/group.

  • An important or significant personal or family event or development.


  • bring a treasured object/toy from home and explain why they are special or significant or share the story of an important family event.

Links to Library Learning Sequences:

State Library of NSW Learning Sequences and Resources

Whose Shoes?

Students learn about present and past family life.


Holidays, Past and Present

Students learn about similarities and differences in family life by comparing the present with the past.


Let’s Celebrate

Students learn about similarities and differences in family life by comparing the present with the past.