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Studying History in Key Stage 1

Julie St Clair Hoare By Julie St Clair Hoare

Hamilton provide a range of history topics for Key Stage 1 that will help you bring the subject to life for Year 1 and Year 2 pupils.

Hamilton's cross-curricular topics cover National Curriculum objectives in several curriculum areas, a tried and tested approach that works well at primary school. Many of our them include history skills and knowledge alongside other subjects. You can filter our KS1 topics for history to find out which ones to explore to find resources for teaching history.

Hamilton's topics also cater for those times when teachers want a strong focus on history. Several of our topics, whilst remaining cross-curricular, cover significant amounts of the history curriculum or cover a few area in depth. Many of these will have special relevance for schools in particular locations (e.g. The Great Fire of London) or with particular population profiles (e.g. celebrating the national days of Canada, Poland, India or Peru).

These are some of our favourite topics for studying the skills and knowledge of the Key Stage 1 history curriculum.

The Great Fire of London for KS1


Our engaging (and free!) topic about The Great Fire of London for children in Year 1 and Year 2 covers this significant event from the 17th century. Understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. Study the buildings of the period and create your own versions of them. Study the rhymes and songs of the time. Make sketches, prints, clay sculptures and 3D models inspired by St Paul’s Cathedral. Enthused by the famous diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, write diaries and read them at your class coffee shop!

Explore our Great Fire of London topic for KS1.

Famous for More than Five Minutes for KS1


This varied topic teaches children about the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements and provides numerous opportunities to compare aspects of life in different periods. Use their lives as a springboard to learning about the historical contexts in which they lived. Try projects inspired by their areas of expertise such as art, music, leadership and science and use these role-models to dream of future goals.

Choose from the following significant individuals:

  • Monarchs: Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria
  • Explorers: Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong
  • Artists: Van Gogh and L.S. Lowry
  • Composers: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Activists: Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai
  • Medical: Mary Seacole and Jennifer Worth
  • Inventors: Leonardi Da Vinci and the Wright Brothers
  • Mathematicians: Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing
  • Communicators: William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee.
  • Ice Explorers: Shackleton and Norgay.
  • Sportspeople: Jesse Owens and Ellie Simmonds
  • Authors: William Shakespeare and J.K. Rowling

Explore our Famous for More than Five Minutes topic for KS1.

Commemorate Events Beyond Living Memory for KS1


Commemorating Events Beyond Living Memory uses anniversaries of historical events to help Year 1 and Year 2 children develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time and to help them relate significant historical events to their own lives.

Choose from our series of lively and creative blocks based on the following key commemorative days.

  • Remembrance Day: Reflect on memories and the meaning of symbols.
  • Bonfire Night: Read about Guy Fawkes, think about his life and tell the story of the Gunpowder Plot.
  • Thanksgiving Day: Recognise the Plymouth Pilgrims joining a feast with the Native People.
  • The first aeroplane flight: Learn about the Wright brothers and the history of flight.
  • The Monarch's Official Birthday: Find out the origin of this annual event.
  • Shakespeare’s Birthday: Learn about Shakespeare and think about what life would have been like in Tudor times.
  • The National Days of Canada, Poland, India and Peru: Why do countries have national days?
  • Commonwealth Day: Take part in traditional games and create a Commonwealth collage.

Explore our Commemorating Events Beyond Living Memory topic for KS1.

Changes within Living Memory


This topic covers changes in national life and culture that children might know about from talking to their parents or grandparents. It provides numerous opportunities for children to develop their understanding of key historical concepts such as continuity & change and similarity & difference.

Choose aspects of changing life and culture that are relevant to the children in your class.

  • Rituals and routines of life: Compare children's activities after school with those of their parents.
  • Everyday life: Compare a typical school day today with one from the 1950s.
  • Transport: Find out about the history of cars and space travel.
  • Keeping in Touch: From Chinese Whispers to mobile telephones - find out about changes in communication technology.
  • Toys and Books: Create a museum out of old and new toys and books.
  • Food: Explore 100 years of food and shopping for food.
  • Music: Find out what mum, dad, granny and grandpa use to listen to and how it compares to the music of today.

Explore our Changes within Living Memory topic for KS1.

Find even more History by going to our KS1 topics page and selecting the 'History' filter.

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