London History Schools Day: digital resources to support children’s learning

With our London CLC Humanities conference coming up on 1 May and the third London History Schools Day on 24 May we direct the spotlight onto London’s rich history and the benefits of using digital technology to support children’s learning, especially to bring the local context to life.

London History Schools Day, which was launched in 2017 as the sister event to Historic England’s London History Day, celebrates the capital’s unique history and heritage. Schools are encouraged to bring London’s unique characters, past and present, to life with a dress-up day and activities.

This year the themes will be Celebration and Local Culture, supporting the Mayor’s wider #LondonisOpen campaign, showing that London will always be open to the world and to celebrate its culture and diversity. There’s a great teachers’ guide full of ideas of Londoners to dress up as and low-cost, creative ways to come up with the costumes.

Whether you’re planing London History Day or simply looking for some fresh inspiration for history in the classroom, there’s a wealth of excellent online resources to pick and choose from. London’s museums are a great place to start.

The British Museum continues to inspire across KS1-3 and beyond with interesting artefacts relevant not just for Britain but world history – see for instance Teaching history with 100 objects as well as extensive resources in the Learning section of its website, while the Museum of London’s new Beasts of London exhibition explores the fascinating role animals have played in shaping the capital.

For teaching through key figures, try the London History Schools Day guides from 2018 and 2017, which give some ideas for an inclusive range of London historical figures but there’s still plenty of scope for selecting your own area, borough’s or school’s own local heroes, female and male. For example, the Brixton-based Black Cultural Archives’ current exhibition features five black women leaders in portraits by artist Franklyn Rodgers. If you’re based in Clapham you might want to check out Van Gogh’s connections to Brixton, Lambeth and London. Google Arts and Culture has an excellent, very visual archive of the suffragette movement in London.

Layers of London is definitely worth a look. It’s a map-based history website where you can access free historic maps of London and contribute stories, memories and histories to create a social history resource about your area.

Finally a reminder that in our Humanities conference on 1 May we’ll be considering a current hot topic – developing children as critical learners. London CLC’s co-director, Sarah Horrocks, will address this issue in her keynote: it’s crucial as historians to sift through and compare evidence for how we interpret and understand the past, and that includes what we find out and encounter online.

There will also be a chance for hands-on exploration in our workshops as we believe that one of the ways children will become aware of how technology and digital can influence what we think is if they themselves to have a chance to use tools creatively and playfully to express themselves and their knowledge and understanding. So watch out for talking statues, portraits and photos as well as 3D digital environments, plus a great talk from the British Museum to kick off the day.

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