Lesson Plan: Foundation

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Inquiry Concept: Continuity and change, cause and effect, significance,
perspectives, empathy.


Unit Rationale

Foundation to Year 2 students learn about the heritage of their community. This Unit of work responds to the Australian Curriculum: History, and utilises the ACT Museums and Galleries (ACT M&G) website and the ACT Historic Places (ACT HP); Mugga-Mugga, Calthorpes’ House and Lanyon, as case studies to focus on oral history and artefacts. The outreach resources include online lesson plans for Foundation to Year 2 students that can be downloaded from the ACT M&G website, as well as Artefact Chat boxes containing touch-and-handle items. The Unit can also involve a visit to an ACT HP house museum.


Focus Questions

What is my history and how do I know?

What stories do other people tell about the past?

How can stories of the past be told and shared?


Elements of Achievement Standards addressed through this unit

By the end of the Foundation year, students identify similarities and differences between families. Students sequence familiar events in order. They pose questions about their past. Students relate a story about their past using a range of texts.


Australian Curriculum: History descriptions contained in this unit


Historical Knowledge and Understanding

Historical Skills


Personal and Family Histories

Who the people in their family are, where
they were born and raised and how they
are related to each other (ACHHK001)

How they, their family and friends commemorate past events that are
important to them (ACHHK003)

How the stories of families and the past
can be communicated, for example through photographs, artefacts, books, oral histories, digital media, and museums (ACHHK004)


Chronology, terms and concepts

Sequence familiar objects and events (ACHHS015)

Distinguish between the past, present and future (ACHHS016)

Historical questions and research

Pose questions about the past using sources provided (ACHHS017)

Analysis and use of sources

Explore a range of sources about the past (ACHHS018)

Identify and compare features of objects from the past and present (ACHHS019)

Perspectives and interpretations

Explore a point of view (ACHHS020)

Explanation and communication

Develop a narrative about the past (ACHHS021)

Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies (ACHHS022)


Other Key Learning areas

Learning Area

Relevant Content Description


Recognise that texts are created by authors who tell stories and share experiences that may be similar or different to students’ own experiences (ACELT1575)

Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts (ACELT1783)

Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations (ACELY1646)

Use interaction skills including listening while others speak, using appropriate voice levels, articulation and body language, gestures and eye contact (ACELY1784)

Deliver short oral presentations to peers (ACELY1647)

Use comprehension strategies to understand and discuss texts listened to, viewed or read independently (ACELY1650)

Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge (ACELY1651)


Sort and classify familiar objects and explain the basis for these classifications. Copy, continue and create patterns with objects and drawings (ACMNA005)

Compare and order the duration of events using the everyday language of time (ACMMG007)


Respond to questions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS014)

Explore and make observations by using the senses (ACSIS011)


Unit Format

The following Unit lesson sequence is informed by the Learning by Design planning framework. It has been developed so that activity sequences A – F are ideally delivered sequentially to provide a rich opportunity to engage students through a range of learning styles, and so that they are able to demonstrate new learning and skills in a variety of ways. The Learning by Design planning framework moves through the following categories;


  1. Engaging the learner,
  2. What is the big understanding?,
  3. Why is this learning significant?, and,
  4. Applying the learning.


The format revisits some categories in order to review and reinforce some skills. ACT M&G are grateful to Bonython Primary School staff, and the ACT Education Directorate, for their invaluable support and guidance in developing this Unit.


Unit lesson sequence

Activity learning sequence A: Engaging the Learner


Purpose: The following sequence of activities establishes the concepts of artefacts,
and oral history through prior knowledge and experience, personal interests and the familiar. The sequence also allows students to make connections to self and to other texts, and can expose them to guest speakers, presentations, etc, and offers opportunities to respond in open-ended ways.


What stories do other people tell about the past?

Students can make a personal connection to stories people tell through prior knowledge and experience by sharing a personal experience. For example; they could recall a time when their parents or grandparents shared a story about their past or childhood. Secondly, students can make a personal connection to the idea that objects prompt stories about the past by, for example, talking about a souvenir they bought on holiday; what was the souvenir?, how does it remind them of the place they visited?, and why did they buy that particular souvenir?

Read the storybook Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas. Alternatively, the class can hear Mem Fox read this story online.

Ask the class to respond to the story; what did they enjoy, learn, not like about the story, what is the same or different to their experience in their community?

Introduce the concept of an artefact. An artefact is something made or shaped by humans for their use, such as a stone tool, a metal sword, a plastic toy, a souvenir or a building. Review the illustrations in the storybook and identify some artefacts, for example; Miss Mitchell’s wooden stick, Mrs Jordan’s cup and organ, Wilfrid’s puppet on strings, football, and his grandfather’s medal. Students could label a photocopy of the illustrations with the following terms; person, artefact, sky, egg, sea shell, etc. Reinforce the difference between artefacts and non-artefacts; an artefact is something made or shaped by humans for their use, non-artefacts are things like a leaf, an egg, the clouds, animals, the wind etc. Families and communities often pass on significant artefacts to the next generation for safe keeping. The class could write a definition for the term ‘artefact’.

List each question Wilfred asked in the story, and then direct each student to think
about two questions they could ask an older family member about life in the past.

Introduce the concept of an oral history: people’s recollections of the past, which can be recorded through an audio or video interview. Students can develop a narrative about the past by orally relating a story about their own life or describing an event they have experienced using pictures or photographs to illustrate key events in the story. Re-read the part of the storybook when Wilfred gave each thing from his basket to Miss Nancy one by one, and ‘she started to remember.’ Explain to the students that Miss Nancy’s spoken memories are an example of oral history.

An alternative book to Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, is Memories: an autobiography / Mem Fox. This illustrated chronology of Mem Fox’s life, up until the book was publish in 1992, is an example of a personal narrative, and includes a summary of Fox’s childhood, early adulthood as she became a writer, and her hopes at that time for her future. The concept of personal history is demonstrated through the format of this book, and similar types of activities as those listed above can be used to engage students in the concepts of oral history and artefacts.


What stories do other people tell about the past?

The class teacher describes an artefact to the class. The artefact could be a personal belonging such as a book, certificate of achievement, treasured garment or toy. Alternatively, look around the school for an artefact such as a trophy, framed certificate, the school flag, a letter of congratulations, a school photograph, etc.  The teacher should explain aspects of the artefact, for example;

  • why the artefact is significant,
  • when it first came to be owned by their family, or the school, and how long ago this was,
  • where it came from or where it was made,
  • how and where the artefact is stored so that it is safe from being damaged,
  • why they have decided to keep it for a long time,
  • how often the family, or school, looks at and talks about the artefact, and,
  • anything else interesting about the artefact.

After listening to the teacher talk about the artefact students ask, or write questions for,
the teacher about the artefact. When presenting questions to the teacher about the artefact, students should use interaction skills including listening while others speak, using appropriate voice levels, articulation and body language, gestures and eye contact.


What is my history and how do I know?

Talk about how families are made up of multiple generations. Work out which class member has the most consecutive generations still living. Do any of the students have an artefact in their family that has been passed from generation to generation? Discuss for which family member the artefact is important, why the family have decided to keep it for so long, and what it can tell us about life in the past. Artefacts are often oddities and can be difficult to preserve, and students could ask a family member about the positives, minuses and interesting aspects of their artefact.

Artefacts are also described as having significance, for example; it can be one-of-a-kind, handmade, owned by a particular family member, etc, and they are often treated differently to objects used every day. Significant artefacts are often no longer used the way they were intended in order to preserve them. An artefact that is more than 100 years old can also be called an antique or an heirloom.

Encourage students to bring an artefact to school that is special to their family, or a photograph of a significant artefact. If the students bring a fragile artefact to school, talk with them about packaging it so that it can be safely transported. Students present the artefact to the class and explain the significance of the artefact, using the points made when the teacher talked about his/her artefact. Students can explore a point of view whereby the teacher encourages comparisons and contrasts the differences and similarities between any modern toys brought in, and the style of toy the teacher might have brought in to show the class.


How can stories of the past be told and shared?

With teacher guidance, access a virtual tour of either Mugga-Mugga and/or Calthorpes’ House to view room interiors and artefacts displayed in order to learn about the families who lived in each home. Whilst viewing the virtual tour, encourage use of the terms ‘long ago’, ‘in the past’, ‘olden days’, etc, to talk about what they are seeing. Support for teachers to understand early 20th century urban Australian lifestyle can be found in the Calthorpes’ House Museum Guide, in the section ‘The Calthorpe family as seen through the artefacts’, pages 17-19.


Using the green [+] symbols, teachers and students can select an artefact. The teacher can explain more about the artefact by reading the text. Select the [AC] symbol to hear an oral history interview about some of the artefacts. Ask the students to talk about why they think the house they are seeing has been kept as a museum. Please note; the virtual tour is not Mac compatible, follow the link directly to the Oral History Recordings page.

Stories about life on a rural property in the past have been told by Jim Brooks, who worked as a jackeroo on Lanyon from 1938 to January 1942. Jim’s experiences provide a contrast to the urban setting of Calthorpes’ House, and the recordings that can be found at Oral History Recordings page are accompanied by photographic artefacts taken around the time he worked at Lanyon more than 70 years ago. Jim describes the range of jobs he did such as stooking hay, riding and caring for stock horses, the daily routine of a jackeroo, and the recreation activities jackeroos did when they weren’t doing jobs on the farm.


After listening to Jim’s oral histories, talk about what the word ‘jackeroo’ sounds like; a combination of the name ‘Jack’ and the noun ‘kangaroo’. A jackeroo is the name of a young man working on a sheep or cattle station to gain experience in farm work. Find out if farms today have jackeroos, and if there’s an equivalent term for a female working on a station. List all the things Jim did as an employee working on Lanyon. Look closely at the image of Jim riding his stock horse Nelson; can you see the saddle bag Jim used to carry his lunch? What other equipment on the horse would be made of leather? I.e. the bridle and saddle.

Explore a point of view by listening to an oral history recording held by the National Library of Australia as told by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

Encourage students to bring an artefact to school. Create a display of the artefacts, and any photographs of artefacts, students bring in. In order to plan the display, categorise the range of artefacts; chronologically based on the year or decade in which each artefact was made, country of origin, cultural context including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sourced artefact, gender use, hand or machine manufactured, or categorised depending on the room in which the artefact was used. An activity that could reinforce these categories could be for the class to think of one more artefact that could be added to each category. The class should plan how they will keep the objects from being damaged: display them away from high traffic areas, on a secure surface, and if possible away from direct sunlight. Have a special opening event and invite family and community members to the school to view the display of significant artefacts (or photographs of artefacts), which could also include a specific building or site in the local area.


Activity learning sequence B: What is the big understanding?


Purpose; The following sequence of learning activities uses experiential learning to review the new concept of ‘artefact’ and the theme of ‘oral history’ through vocabulary, numeracy and literacy strategies.

Direct students to choose a favourite item from their pencil case. In pairs, students show
one another their favourite item, and each student asks the other about the item.
Then, read through and distribute a list of questions for each student to carry out an interview. A recommended question format is as follows.


  • What do you remember about this artefact?
  • Did you buy it or did someone give it to you?
  • When did you get this artefact?
  • Is there anything else you can tell me about this artefact?


At the conclusion of the interview, students should make a complimentary comment about what they have learned, i.e. that it was interesting, amazing, or surprising, etc, and the interviewer should thank the other student.

To establish that oral history is spoken rather than written down, students could verbally relate details of events at three stages of their life, including what they could do at each stage, using prompts in the form of drawings, for example see the History Curriculum work sample, Timeline – Events in my life.


What is my history and how do I know?

Investigate the places in your local area that store artefacts, for example in the ACT there are many such places including Canberra Museum and Gallery,  the National Museum of Australia, Blundell’s Cottage, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Australian Democracy, the Australian War Memorial, Mugga Mugga, Lanyon, and Calthorpes’ House. Talk about the types of artefacts each place collects, for example some places collect artefacts related to the lifestyles over time of people living in Canberra, or artefacts relating to warfare, or fine art that represents people who have made a significant contribution to society, etc. If the students have visited places like these, talk about what they remember of their visit. List reasons why museums are important, and why we should keep some types of artefacts inside particular buildings.


Activity learning sequence C: Engaging the Learner


Purpose; The following activity models the interview process in order to introduce and familiarise students with how an interview can be carried out.


What stories do other people tell about the past?

With teacher guidance, access the Calthorpes’ House virtual tour of the kitchen, and select the green [+] symbol near the kettle to hear an interview of Mrs Dawn Waterhouse about life with her family living at Calthorpes’ House when the city of Canberra was being established. Please note; the virtual tour is not Mac compatible, follow the link directly to the kettle audio. Alternatively, two teachers could role play an interview about the artefact the class teacher showed the class in Activity learning sequence A above. This interview role play could be filmed for referring to in future lessons. If teachers role play an interview, they should demonstrate good interview techniques including open and relaxed body language, as well as suggestions made in Interview Recommendations. Students respond to the interview by sharing what they learned about the artefact and the people, as well as what they enjoyed or found interesting whilst listening to the interview.


Activity learning sequence D: What is the big understanding?


Purpose; The following activities allow students to generalise about what an artefact is, and to practise how to describe an artefact and think creatively about it.


What stories do other people tell about the past?

Revisit the Calthorpes’ House virtual tour of the kitchen and explore a range of sources about the past by comparing this kitchen with kitchens in homes today. Compare and contrast features such as cooking and refrigeration technology, room size, decor, etc. Alternatively, view any one of the other twelve areas of the house museum virtual tour, and compare and contrast the features and artefacts inside each room to similar places inside a house today. Also, the Calthorpes’ House Museum Guide, page 2, provides a brief summary of the differences between modern middle class homes to that of larger than average houses of 1920s suburban Australia.

Students sort a range of objects into groups. For example gather things from around the school such as office equipment, sports equipment, and art making equipment. The teacher lays out 3-5 hoops, or ropes arranged into circles, on the floor, or mark out chalk lines on concrete, and then place one object from the collection into each circle. Direct individual students to select one object and place it inside a hoop. Successive students continue the process until all the objects are distributed across the hoops. Discuss the reason/s why each student decided to place the object they chose into the particular hoop.

Request to loan an Artefact Chat box: This is old, what’s new?, containing a range of objects related to daily life in Australia’s past, by contacting the ACT M&G Bookings Officer, phone (02) 6205 0916 or email [email protected] Each box contains a range of artefacts representative of life in the past students can touch and handle.


Activity learning sequence E: Why is this learning significant?


Purpose; To explicitly teach interview grammar, as well as gesture and expression, in context prior to applying those skills to developing interview questions. The following learning activity is significant because it teaches the purpose of interview, when interviews are used, and why it is important to document the past.


How can stories of the past be told and shared?

After reviewing the interview process outlined in Interview Recommendations, students practise carrying out an interview in pairs using objects or photographs of objects gathered for the classroom display in Activity learning sequence A above. Review different types of questions for example double header questions, and open and closed questions, as outlined in Activity learning sequence B. Review the use of key terms to commence questions; how, what, when, who, etc. Review correct grammar, including that a question requires the punctuation symbol ‘?’. Review how spoken text often has key words that are emphasised when the question is read aloud so the listener clearly understands the subject of the question. Students could also review the questions they prepared for the teacher in Activity learning sequence A for these interview techniques.


Look at what makes a good interview. Revisit the interview role play carried out during Activity learning sequence C, and talk about introduction formalities, pertinent terminology used during the interview listed above, as well as emphasis on key words and body language. Review with the class how careful listening during an interview is required so that subsequent questions allow new information to be provided rather than a repeat of information already given by the interviewee. Notice also how the interview process is concluded with a positive adjective, how the interviewer thanked the interviewee for their time, and that it was clear in the recording that the interview had finished.


Critically analyse the purpose of oral history interviews by talking with the class about when and why oral histories should be told and recorded. Revisit any of the oral history recordings found within the virtual tours of the websites for Mugga-Mugga and Calthorpes’ House; talk about who the intended audience would be for the recording. For example; people studying history, or those wishing to know more about the particular home and family life of the people who lived there, as well as historians and students wanting to learn about how old fashioned things were used in the past. To further critically analyse oral history interviews, the class could also discuss the positives, minuses and what is interesting about them.


Activity learning sequence F: Applying the learning


Purpose; The following learning activity provides an opportunity for students to
independently apply what has been taught and provides assessment opportunities.


What is my history and how do I know?

How can stories of the past be told and shared?


Write interview questions for a family or community member about an artefact. If the interviewee is a family member, the student should establish how the person is related to them. The number of questions should allow the interview to last no more than 10 minutes. Practise reading the interview questions aloud to make sure each student is familiar with how to introduce and conclude the recording, the question sequence, as well as how to read the questions with animated expression and varied tone. Record the interview.

Submit interview to ACT M&G Education and Community Programs Historic Places Officer for screening. See the Permission To Use Oral History Form (PDF), and ensure this is completed and submitted along with the recording to ACT M&G. ACT M&G will upload some interviews
onto the website.

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