Integrated learning reached new heights these past weeks in my class when I introduced The History Box for 3rd Class from Prim-Ed. The History Box consists of a range of resources that enable the children to engage with every strand of the curriculum and a range of strand units, while also linking the six historical skills and concepts. I used the cards in a variety of ways throughout the last few weeks – as a station during literacy circles, as an early finisher task and as a resource to use in research for mini-projects my class were working on. The children devoured the cards and some of the children even wanted to take the cards home to finish the open-ended tasks that they found very enjoyable!
When I initially looked at the pack, I thought it was very similar to The Comprehension Box. I was really impressed by the contents of the programme. It comes with sixteen topic cards, four copies of each card. Each card has a range of activities and a supplementary card to develop the skills and concepts, linked with each topic. Each card has topic specific text, comprehension questions along with a writing activity and further investigation task. The reverse of each card also has more text on the topic and an open-ended research activity. My lower ability students really enjoyed using the cards also, especially the link to ICT. The cards have QR codes with a link to an audio or video version of the story. The cards are very inclusive and accessible. The programme is very easy to use as a teacher as it comes with a very comprehensive teacher guide and an activity resource book. The guide has a very detailed unit attached to each topic card that has a step by step guide on using each card.
The 3rd class programme covers the strand of story in great depth. It includes Irish myths and legends such as How Cúchulainn got his Name, The Salmon of Knowledge, St. Brendan the Navigator, along with the story of Daedalus and Icarus, the Journey of Tom Crean and Christopher Columbus. Each topic card is filled with informative and well written text to enable the children to fulfill the objectives of the curriculum. The Early People and Ancient Societies strand covers the Stone Age Peoples, Ancient Egyptians, The Han Dynasty and The Maori. A broad range of topics which easily lead to cross-curricular integration and feed into project work which is an important part of our work in Third Class. The Life, Society, Work and Culture in the Past strand covers Life in Norman Ireland, Life in Medieval Ireland and Life in 18th Century Ireland. Finally, Continuity and Change over Time strand is covered through Communications Through Time, Transport and finally Homes and Houses Long Ago.
As you can see from this, the Prim-Ed programme is completely jam packed. In our school, we have split up the themes and topics from the curriculum by class group. Each class grouping studies a specific area from each of the strands and creates a project on the topic. Some of the topics from The History Box did not align to the themes in our whole-school plan, however using The History Box for reading activities at station teaching, gave the children an insight into a range of topics they otherwise might not have touched on. Although, if a school was lucky enough to have access to the complete set, it would be very feasible to re-organise the boxes and align each set with the school plan. The History Box would also be a fantastic tool for EAL, teachers could use the cards as a base to pre-teach content and vocabulary linked to a theme. With a little creativity, the programme is very versatile and could be easily used in a variety of ways to further develop the learning of the children in a fun engaging way!