Pittington Primary School

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Pittington Primary School | Hallgarth Lane, Durham, County Durham DH6 1AF

History at Pittington

History Spring 2020

What have children been learning about during the Spring Term?

Early Years


In Nursery we have been exploring some of the historical traditions associated with festivals and special days we have celebrated.  We learned about some of the traditions associated with Valentine’s Day and talked about how we celebrate as a family.  We looked at the history of Pancake Day, why we celebrate and the traditions which have been followed throughout the years.  We then had our own pancake flipping race.



Reception have been singing traditional nursery rhymes in class, in particular Humpty Dumpty.  We explored some of the lyrics such as discussing what ‘a great fall’ could mean (all children agreed that falling over is not a ‘great’ experience!) and we talked about the words ‘King’s horses and King’s men’ and thought about who they could be.

We investigated if Humpty Dumpty was really an egg (all the children think he is a talking, walking egg) and it also got us thinking about why Humpty Dumpty has this name.  We have created puppet show performances of Humpty Dumpty as well as building him a ‘safe’ structure to climb and sit on – indoors and out!

The children in Reception have also been fascinated with cars and how they have changed over time. We were all amazed that cars were made from wood and how they originally did not have doors or even a roof!  We looked at the evolution of cars over time right up to the sports cars of today.  The children discussed aspects such as mirrors, paintwork, registration plates and SatNav!  

Key Stage 1

Year 1

Year 1 have explored the topic of Space. The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about significant individuals relating to this topic, Neil Armstrong and Tim Peake. They have had lots of fun learning all about why Neil and Tim are famous and how they have made such big impact on the world we live in today. Lots of children have explored this further by visiting workshops and space themed events. Parents have been very impressed with the facts the children have remembered and shared with them at home. Neil Armstrong and Tim Peake are definitely among the children’s favourite this term.



Year 2

Did you know George Stephenson did not go to school until he was 18? Nor did year 2 until they started this research session using a booklet on his life. They found out key information like his place of birth, date of birth and significant achievements such as his famous ‘Rocket’ steam engine. This is the beginning of a larger unit of work where we will be finding out why he is significant in the history of not just the north east of England but the United Kingdom and the wider world!

Key Stage 2

Year 3

Year 3 have been learning about the Ancient Greek civilisation and compared it to what we had learnt about the Iron Age period in the British Isles.  We compared the use of archaeology and excavated artefacts from Iron Age Britain with the writings from Ancient Greece. 

New and interesting vocabulary was learnt during the study of Alexander III of Macedon and the systems of government within city-states; monarchy, tyranny, oligarchy, democracy.  We made links with our study of rocks from science when learning that the structures and monuments of the Acropolis were but on a limestone plateau.


Year 4

In Year 4 we have completed our key focus on the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings. We explored the situation in England prior to the invasion, including using drama for the different claims to the monarchy. The children were able to express and justify their own thoughts on the different claims. We also compared the situation found in England, with regard to the monarchy, to the situation when the Romans invaded, helping us to develop our understanding from prior studies and make links with previous learning.

The children additionally studied the role of key sources in historical study and this included them making historical deductions from the Bayeux Tapestry. This included taking information which they already knew and being able to apply it to make further historical deductions.

We were also able to make clear links to our work in geography and this was though the Norman placement of castles on both the River Tyne and the River Wear.                                                                                   

Year 5

We have been studying The Anglo Saxons. The children looked at where they fit in chronologically with British history and made timelines to help us to understand when they arrived and settled. We used maps to determine where the Anglo Saxons travelled from and researched the names of places used in history for areas of the British Isles. We looked at the changes in rulers during this time period and investigated and debated the question, ‘Was King Alfred really great’? We then studied village life and the roles of different people within this, made a model village from research on homes and explored how settlements were arranged and laid out.

We were able to combine our previously learned DT skills with our Geography and History learning this term.

Year 6

Y6 have been studying life in England after the Viking invasions.  We enjoyed looking at different historical sources of the attacks on Lindisfarne and analysing them for bias.

It was interesting to study Viking place names and see which place names from nearby were Viking in origin.

We also compared and contrasted the lives of Anglo Saxon and Viking people living under Danelaw.

Autumn Term 2019

What have children been learning about during the Autumn Term?

Early Years

As Nursery start a new school year the children have been developing a sense of time and their place within it by looking at the world around them. They have discussed special family celebrations like birthdays that mark the passing of time and thought about how the seasons change as the year progresses. These discussions led to children thinking about features of objects in their own classroom. The children had lots of interesting conversations about how some of our toys look ‘old’ and what it is that makes them look this way.

A collection of toys that the children thought might be “old”

The children in Reception have explored the book ‘The Paper Dolls’ which is all about a child who makes paper dolls, has adventures with them but unfortunately they end up getting destroyed. However, they are not gone forever as she can keep them in her memory along with the other things she remembers and stores there through the years.

It is a very touching story which the children have thoroughly enjoyed. The children spoke about loss and the important memories we have to remind us about something that may no longer be here. Some children shared memories about pets, missing toys, family events and many more. Some children have enjoyed attempting to make their own paper dolls too!


Key Stage 1

Year One children have immersed themselves in The Great Fire of London this term. They have explored the differences between London in 1666 and modern day London. The children could not believe how different London is now and how the buildings have changed as a result. Everyone can recall key dates and facts relating to The Great Fire and were fantastic at putting the events in chronological order.

The children have been so engaged in this topic that they worked in small groups to discuss The Great Fire as if they were Londoners 1666. The children imagined what they would be able to hear, smell, see and feel. As a challenge some even acted out how they would react or what they might be able to see happening around them.

The children have loved this topic and some families visited The Great Fire of London Monument in London.

In Year 2 the children have been learning all about the life of the famed fossil hunter Mary Anning! Did you know that the rhyme ‘She sells sea shells by the sea shore’ is actually about her!? We started by using a historical artefact to look for clues about her life and then, when we had learned more, retold the amazing story of her life.

Key Stage 2

Year 3

Year 3 have been exploring ‘Who first lived in Britain?’  The children have focused on hunter gatherers and farming, finding similarities and differences across the three periods of Stone, Iron and Bronze Age.

The children enjoy sharing their knowledge together. They are able to explain coastal settlements, shelters, cooking and cup and ring rock art that have been found in the north east region.

Year 4

Year 4 have studied the Roman invasion of Britain. This has included recall of the key dates and facts, and finding out exactly why the Romans chose to come to Britain. The children looked at the historical events from the point of view of the local tribes and how exactly it would feel to be invaded. This included writing headlines and introductions in English based upon these key historical events.

The events surrounding Boudicca’s resistance were also explored through drama and role-play, and the children had the opportunity to write a recount of the events in role.

Year 5

Year 5 have been looking at significant people in British history and how they influenced events. They have studied Oliver Cromwell and debated the decisions he made and the approaches he took in leadership.

The children also created news reports on Guy Fawkes and the role he played in the history of our country.

Year 6

Year 6 have studied what life was like during the life of Shakespeare and answered questions such as: What key historical events happened during Shakespeare’s life? Who were Shakespeare’s most famous characters and what would you ask them if you met them today?

Summer Term

What have children been learning about during the Summer Term?

Early Years

Thanks to one of our nursery children’s particular interests, the children found out about The Titanic. They borrowed a model of the ship from Mr Moult and discussed the fate of the ship. It led to some really wonderful imaginative play.

The children made a role play game on the climbing frame and everybody climbed aboard The Titanic.

“Mrs Aitchison, get on The Titanic!” shouted Jacob.

“There’s an iceberg, quick turn. Oh, we’ve missed it….we are safe.”

“An iceberg! There seems to be icebergs everywhere.”

“Quick get on The Titanic!”

The children in Reception have combined Science and History and have been exploring changes to our planet over time. They discovered that the deeper you dig into the Earth, the more information we can find out about its History and what it is made of. They investigated the moon and found that years and years ago, people used to think it was a person’s face or even made of cheese! They found out that is it made from two types of rock – granite and basalt. The children also learned that Pluto is no longer a planet.

To celebrate our Solar System, old and new, the children had a Space Day.


The Reception children also looked at how colours used in artwork have changed over time. They looked closely at the work of Laurence Stephen Lowry. They discovered that he was born in 1887 and died in 1976 and was famous for painting matchstick people and industrial landscapes. They compared his painting to modern day art and tried their own abstract art.

The children listed to a song about Lowry. They talked about some of the unfamiliar words in the song, such as ‘chap’ and ‘nowt.’

Key Stage 1

Year One children enjoyed finding out about Grace Darling.  They found why she was so famous and what we have today because of her bravery.

They had a visit from the RNLI who came and worked with the children. They were very impressed with the children’s knowledge of Grace Darling.


In the final term in Year 2, we looked at how life has changed since the Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953. This included the changes in technology, housing, pastimes and food – most notable being seasonal food and rationing still being in place.

This culminated in a Coronation Party where the children made their own jam tarts, crowns and enjoyed spam on toast (yes, they really enjoyed it!) It was a Royal Celebration!

Key Stage 2

Year 3

During this term the children have applied their historical enquiry skills to study local history for the villages where they live. They compared this relatively modern history with how the area was in the periods of history that they studied in the autumn term.

Year 4

The children in Year 4 investigated sources of information on the Georgian Highwayman, Dick Turpin for their Crime and Punishment topic in history.

They researched Dick Turpin through newspaper articles, magazine articles, his baptism record and his gravestone. The children had to decide whether the sources were accurate in their description of him.

The children in Year 4 also recreated different punishments that were used in Victorian prisons. The children had to ‘pick oakum’ or ‘walk the treadwheel’ whilst some children were Bobbies or prison guards.


Year 5

The children in Year 5 were exploring the theme of Anglo and Saxon village life. They designed and made their own Anglo Saxon home and then, using their persuasive writing skills, created scripts and adverts for their own estate agent website.


Year 6

The children in Year 6 studied the Kingdom of Benin. This included a study of its key historical events, religious events and art. They created clay tiles inspired by these artefacts.

Spring Term

What have children been learning about during the Spring Term?

Early Years

Children in the nursery have continued to use their “This is Us” book to discuss what they have been doing outside of school and to share their family traditions.

Children in reception have been learning about traditional nursery rhymes and have asked questions such as Who was Little Miss Muffet? and Why was Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall?

Max the Monkey continues his visits to children’s houses for the weekend. The children help him record his visit in his diary. The children look forward to sharing past events and talk about activities that they are involved in out of school.

The children in reception have been celebrating families….

They have looked at different family dynamics – Who can be in a family? What is a family? Where could a family live? Where can families go on holiday? How big is a family? The children talked about living with extended families, living with mum,  living with mum and dad,  living with mum and mum, living with dad and dad living with grandparents and being part of an adopted family.

They read a book all about families and looked at family trees and talked about what their family tree might look like.

Key Stage 1

Children in Year 1 have been exploring houses and homes. They have investigated different periods in time and how the houses were different to those of today. The children plotted the different houses onto a time line from Stone Age to modern day.

The children have been talking about objects that might have been found in a Victorian kitchen and living room and compared them to their kitchens and living rooms at home.

Year two have been learning about life at the time of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and have discussed the objects that were used during the ceremony. As part of this they have been learning about how the food we eat and shopping has changed. We are finding out about seasonal eating, rationing and…shock horror…how McDonalds was not yet available!

As part of this we have looked at a suggested menu from a magazine in 1953 and chosen our favourite meals. Soon we will be cooking some of our favourite. Hands up for jam roly-poly and spam fritters!  

Key Stage 2

Children in Year 3 have been finding out about Ancient Greece. They have looked closely at Greek pots and compared and contrasted designs.

…..and then made their own pots.

Year 4 children have been learning about the Normans and the Norman Conquest. They have researched the function of castles and where they were situated on the north east coast.

They created fact files on William the Conqueror.

They also worked together to create a time line of Norman events.

The children in Year 5 have used their History topic of Egyptians as a stimulus for exploring the nets of shapes and have created pyramids and the Sphinx.

They watched a programme about the Great Sphinx of Giza which used laser scanning to find out who the statue was built for and then made Sphinx models made from a net.

Children in Year 6 have continued to explore the voyages of Captain Cook. They have looked closely at his historical significance and his impact on modern life.

They enjoyed writing diary entries as though they were Captain Cook and then wrote information posters about him.

Autumn Term

Eduardo Galeano once said, “History never really says goodbye. History says, “See you later.” The children at Pittington Primary School explore aspects of History which will help prepare them for the future as well as developing knowledge and skills which will help support their mathematics and literacy skills.

What have children been learning about during the Autumn Term?

Early Years

Children in the Early Years enjoy listening to stories about the past and are encouraged to ask questions such as how and why? They are encouraged to talk about the past, the present and the future in their own lives and the lives on their families. They learn about traditions within families and the similiarities and differences between families. Role play and made up stories are great opportunities for children children to explore the past.

Children in the reception class have been comparing and contrasting gardens from the Victorian period with gardens from the present day. They discussed the similarities and differences between the gardens and voted  for the one they preferred.


They looked at lots of artefacts to learn about Remembrance Day.  They looked at medals, a special Penny and even held a ceramic Poppy that had been on display at the Tower of London.    

Key Stage 1

Children in Key Stage 1 have been developing their awareness of the past using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They have been finding out about the Great Fire of London: how the fire started and why it spread so quickly. In fact they have become experts on the subject and have used their presenting skills to make a television report.

The children have used their research skills to compare and contrast London in 1666 to London in 2018. One of the children visited London during the half term holiday and she designed a power point presentation on her holiday which she shared with the children on her return. She was a roving reporter from Pittington. Enjoy the slideshow for her presentation below:



The children enjoyed writing to King Charles to give him some good advice as to how to stop the fire. They wrote using quills (pencils with feathers attached) on charred paper – because it was obviously burned by the flames. They wrote their letters by candle light, just like Samuel Pepys had written his diary during this period. It was a writing environment reminiscent of 1666.

The children then designed Tudor houses from the historical period and once the London street was created – we invited Durham Fire Brigade to visit school to burn the houses down! It certainly showed the children how quickly fire can spread. The Fire Officers kindly let the children take turns with the hose to squirt the water onto the burning houses. Great fun was had by all!

Year 1 also enjoyed designing and making poppies as part of Remembrance Day activities.. This activity was organised and set up by Harry, one of the children in Year 1. He wanted to set up a Poppy Club and his friends all enjoyed taking part.


Year 2 and Mr Shackler, the Caretaker were most surprised to find what looked like dinosaur bones and dinosaur eggs on the school field. They investigated further and decided to write to an archeologist to ask for further information.

An important skill in historical enquiry is using artefacts to gather ‘clues’ about the past where there is no written record. Year 2 used this portrait of Mary Anning to discover more about who she might be and what she might be famous for.

Key Stage 2

Year 3 have been exploring ‘Who first lived in Britain?’ They have explored the similarities and differences across the three periods of Stone, Iron and Bronze Age focussing on hunter gatherers and farming.


Year 4 have been exploring Romans and have enjoyed a trip to Arbeia Roman Fort.

Year 5 have been looking at the life and times of Oliver Cromwell. They have recently visited Sunderland Empire to watch the Horrible Histories production of Awful Egyptians – the history of Egypt with all the nasty bits left in! This is in preparation for their History work in the Spring term.


Year 6 have been discussing exploration through time with a focus on the Vikings. They have learned about the voyages of Christopher Columbus and his motives to explore. They are now focussing on how technological advances will enable further exploration including the exploration of space.

We Will Remember

The whole school respected the two minutes silence for Remembrance Day. The bell sounded for the start of the silence and it was ended by Alex playing The Last Post on his cornet. It was a very memorable moment.