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Whose shoes?

Key inquiry question #1: 
How can we show the present is different from or similar to the past?
Key inquiry question #2: 
How do we describe the sequence of time?

Content summary

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 (ACHASSK029)

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

Background notes for teachers

Focus question: What can shoes tell us about how things change over time? 

Discuss the following with your students:

  • Who wore these shoes? When did they wear them?
  • Do you ever think about your shoes?
  • Shoes can tell a lot about a person. 
  • Shoes can tell us if people play football, tennis or ride horses.
  • The size of your shoe will tell people if you are a baby, a child or an adult. 
  • Shoes also change over time because of changes in fashion, especially for women. 
  • Look at the shoes you are wearing now.
  • Shoes can tell us that some things change and some things remain the same over time.
  • Do you think your shoes should go into a museum for people to look at in the future?

Student Activities

Whose shoes

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

Number of set tasks: 1

Captain Cook's shoe buckles

These fancy buckles clipped onto the top of Captain Cook’s shoe. Cook wore these buckles on his shoes when he was presented to King George III of England in 1775. 


Number of set tasks: 1


Ask students to:

  • Work in pairs or groups.
  • Look at each pair of shoes and discuss their ideas about the shoes in each photo.
  • Answer the question; who wore these shoes?
  • Give reasons for their conclusion.
  • Use words relating to time, such as now, past and present, a long time ago to describe when these shoes were worn.  
  • Extend their thinking by deciding which shoes are the oldest and giving the reasons for their decision.

Captain Cook's shoe buckles
These buckles clipped onto the top of Captain Cook’s shoe. Cook wore these buckles on his shoes when he was presented to King George III of England in 1775. 

Ask students to:

  • Draw a design for the shoe that Captain Cook wore when he met the King.
  • Include the shoe buckles in the design.
  • Remember that the design has to suit the person and the time (over 200 years ago)
  • Write words to describe the colour of the shoe and the material of the shoe 

For more information about the life and career of Captain James Cook, see the article on him by The Australian Dictionary of Biography

NSW syllabus for the Australian curriculum

A student:

  • HT1-4 demonstrates skills of historical inquiry and communication


Comprehension: chronology, terms and concepts

  • sequence familiar objects and events (ACHHS031, ACHHS047)
  • 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)


  • 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 (ACHHS03, ACHHS054)
  • Continuity and change: some things change over time and others remain the same
  • Empathetic understanding: developing an understanding of another’s views, life and decisions made
  • Significance: importance of an event, development or individual/group

Learning across the curriculum    

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Literacy