Lesson PLan: Year 2

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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 aspects of the past can you see today? What do they tell us?

What remains of the past are important to the local community? Why?

How have changes in technology shaped our daily life?


Elements of Achievement Standards addressed through this unit

By the end of Year 2, students analyse aspects of daily life to identify how some have changed over recent time while others have remained the same. They describe a person, site or event of significance in the local community. Students sequence events in order, using a range of terms related to time. They pose questions about the past and use sources provided (physical, visual, oral) to answer these questions. They compare objects from the past and present. Students develop a narrative about the past using a range of texts.


Australian Curriculum: History descriptions contained in this unit

Historical Knowledge and Understanding

Historical Skills


The Past in the Present

The history of a significant person, building, site or part of the natural environment in the local community and what it reveals about the past (ACHHK044)

The importance today of an historical site of cultural or spiritual significance; for example, a community building, a landmark, a war memorial (ACHHK045)

The impact of changing technology on people’s lives (at home and in the ways they worked, travelled, communicated, and played in the past) (ACHHK046)


Chronology, terms and concepts

Sequence familiar objects and events (ACHHS047)

Distinguish between the past, present and future (ACHHS048)

Historical questions and research

Pose questions about the past using sources provided (ACHHS049)

Analysis and use of sources

Explore a range of sources about the past (ACHHS050)

Identify and compare features of objects from the past and present (ACHHS051)

Perspectives and interpretations

Explore a point of view (ACHHS052)

Explanation and communication

Develop a narrative about the past (ACHHS053)

Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies (ACHHS054)


Other Key Learning areas

Learning Area

Relevant Content Description


Understand that spoken, visual and written forms of language are different modes of communication with different features and their use varies according to the audience, purpose, context and cultural background (ACELA1460)

Understand that language varies when people take on different roles in social and classroom interactions and how the use of key interpersonal language resources varies depending on context (ACELA1461)

Identify language that can be used for appreciating texts and the qualities of people and things (ACELA1462)

Understand that different types of texts have identifiable text structures and language features that help the text serve its purpose (ACELA1463)

Know some features of text organisation including page and screen layouts, alphabetical order, and different types of diagrams, for example timelines (ACELA1466)

Identify visual representations of characters’ actions, reactions, speech and thought processes in narratives, and consider how these images add to or contradict or multiply the meaning of accompanying words (ACELA1469)

Understand the use of vocabulary about familiar and new topics and experiment with and begin to make conscious choices of vocabulary to suit audience and purpose (ACELA1470)

Recognise common prefixes and suffixes and how they change a word’s meaning (ACELA1472)

Discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways (ACELT1591)

Listen for specific purposes and information, including instructions, and extend students’ own and others' ideas in discussions (ACELY1666)

Use interaction skills including initiating topics, making positive statements and voicing disagreement in an appropriate manner, speaking clearly and varying tone, volume and pace appropriately (ACELY1789)

Rehearse and deliver short presentations on familiar and new topics (ACELY1667)

Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1671)

Reread and edit text for spelling, sentence-boundary punctuation and text structure (ACELY1672)

Construct texts featuring print, visual and audio elements using software, including word processing programs (ACELY1674)


Describe the features of three-dimensional objects (ACMMG043)


Earth’s resources, including water, are used in a variety of ways (ACSSU032)

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035)

Respond to and pose questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS037)

Through discussion, compare observations with predictions (ACSIS214)

Compare observations with those of others (ACSIS041)


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 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 Museums and Galleries 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 learning 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 aspects of the past can you see today? What do they tell us?

What remains of the past are important to the local community? Why?

How have changes in technology shaped our daily life?


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?, or why did they buy that particular souvenir?

Read the storybook My Place, written by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Donna Rawlins, 2008. Ask the students to respond to the story; what did they enjoy, learn, not like about the story, what was the same or different to their experience in their community.


To explore a source about the past, students could choose one element that is present in every illustration of the story book My Place, for example clothing, jobs, transport, or architecture, and make a timeline showing the changes to that element over time. Photocopies of the illustrations could be used for this purpose where students cut out and sequence, from earliest to most recent, one element in the category listed above, and use the year dates, shown at the top left corner of each scene, to label each corresponding artefact.

Introduce the concept of an oral history: people’s recollections of the past, which can be recorded through an audio or video interview. Many cultures around the world have a strong oral history tradition including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The teacher could read aloud one passage in the story book My Place, to hear a character ‘tell’ their story. After listening to the passage, and working in pairs, students could develop some questions for the character. For example, using Johanna’s history from the year 1848, the types of questions students might ask are; what sorts of vegetables does Granny Sarah grow in her garden?, what is a woolwashery?, what did Uncle Sam bring home from his sailing trip?, where did you get Mischief?, etc. Review with the students that Johanna’s spoken answers to these questions would be a form of oral history.

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. Examples of artefacts in the natural environment include rock carvings and paintings, as well as botanical specimens that show evidence of modification by people, for example, activity of Ngunnawal people in the landscape such as the scarred trees at Lanyon, about which information can be found in the Lanyon Museum Guide, page 6. The Canberra City of Trees Education Resource also provides information about significant trees in Australian Capital Territory.

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 unique 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. Direct each student to think about two questions they could ask an older family member about a feature in the local community that is important to them.

To discover more ideas for classroom activities for Primary aged students inspired by My Place, teachers could access the Walker Books Classroom Ideas pdf, and the My Place TV series website.

An alternative story book to My Place, is The Dog on the Tuckerbox by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe. This fictional story tells of Lady and her master Bill, and it is the story of Australia’s pioneers; the bullockies who worked the rough tracks, and of one dog’s unwavering loyalty to her master. The concept of daily life in Australia’s pioneer past is depicted in the events and illustrations of this story book, and similar types of activities as those listed above can be used to engage students in the concepts of oral history and artefacts. The Mugga Mugga virtual tour of Father’s Room contains information about a tuckerbox used by Patrick Curley.


What remains of the past are important to the local community? Why?


Investigate the local community and list buildings, places or sites of historical interest. Students could choose one historic place in the community and, depending on the age of the place, think about the things that would/would not have changed within a particular timeframe, for example the recent 200, 100, eight years (the latter corresponds to the average Year 2 student’s lifetime). In addition, talk with the class about what they can remember that has changed within their lifetime, i.e. trees cut down, changes to playground equipment, renovations built, etc, in their school or local area. Suggest reasons why the historic places have been maintained despite the other changes that have happened in the surrounding local area.

The class teacher should describe 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 special,
  • 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,
  • if it relates to either a tradition, leisure time, or technology,
  • how it was used in daily life in the past,
  • 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 community, looks at and talks about the artefact, and,
  • anything else interesting about the artefact.


After listening to the teacher talk about their artefact, students write questions for the teacher about the artefact. Students should pose questions about the past using sources provided that incorporate the terms: what, how, why, and when. Structure questions using appropriate verb tenses, for example in the question: ‘How did people cook food before there were microwaves?’, the helping verb ‘did’ is in the past.

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.


What aspects of the past can you see today? What do they tell us?

With teacher guidance, access a virtual tour of either Mugga Mugga or Calthorpes’ House to view room interiors of each house museum and the artefacts displayed in order to learn about the families who once lived in each home. The Calthorpes’ House Museum Guide, pages 17-19, provides a summary of ‘The Calthorpe family as seen through the artefacts’ that can assist with this discussion. Using the green [+] symbols, the students and teachers can learn more about key artefacts. Select the [AC] symbol to hear an oral history interview about the artefact.


Whilst viewing the virtual tour, use the terms ‘long ago’, ‘in the past’, ‘olden days’, etc, to talk about what the class is seeing. Students should identify collection items that have been mended, for example the mixing bowl in the servery at Calthorpes’ House, or either the ‘make-do’ cupboard at Mugga-Mugga.  With teacher supervision, students can access the Mugga-Mugga virtual tour of the main bedroom to hear an oral history recording of Miss Sylvia Curley talking about the ‘make-do’ cupboard.

In addition, students could look carefully at the building fabric of Mugga Mugga because it is a significant example of ‘make-do’ architecture, and to reinforce this compare to images of the more formal and relatively intact building fabric of Calthorpes’ House. Images of the external features of each house museum can be viewed at the home page links provided above, or alternatively the building fabric can be viewed via the virtual tours outlined above.

Alternatively, 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 artefacts used, and 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 recreation activities he did when he wasn’t doing jobs on the farm.


After listening to the oral history recording about recreation activities Jim and his work mates did at Lanyon many years ago, list each of the activities: reading books, riding a horse, going into the nearby town of Queanbeyan, and playing tennis. Talk about the past times the children and their families do today; which activities are similar and which are different to those of the past?

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 significant building or site in the local area.


Activity learning sequence B: What is the big understanding?

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


What aspects of the past can you see today? What do they tell us?

What remains of the past are important to the local community? Why?


Review the illustrations in the storybook My Place and identify a range of human made and natural things. For example; all the clothing worn by each character, the houses, buses, and cars, the various clothes lines and the fences, electricity poles, canoes, wheelbarrow, and pram are all made by humans so they are artefacts. By comparison, all the animals in the story such as Laura’s pet dog, Mike’s pet cat Whiskers, and the horses, as well as the sunset are not artefacts because they have not been made by humans. Students could label a copy of each illustration with the following terms; person, artefact, sky, animal, etc.


For an online resource demonstrating an oral history recording, describing life in Australia in the 1930s, for early Primary-aged students, teachers could access the online Australian Curriculum resource Scootle, and search for 'In my day' and 'Stan's story': oral history - teacher resource . A sign in and password could be required.

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 certain buildings.

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 C: Engaging the Learner

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

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. After brief discussion, read through and distribute a list of questions for each student to carry out an interview. 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.


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.


How have changes in technology shaped our daily life?

With teacher supervision, access the virtual tour of Calthorpes’ House, and in particular the kitchen, sitting room or laundry. Look closely for as many different examples of technology in one of the rooms. What is the same and what is different about the types of technology in each room compared with the students’ own homes? For example, in the virtual tour the following technologies can be seen: a gramophone, a dial telephone, a large wireless radio, filament light bulbs, a fireplace and no evidence of central heating, a copper wash tub and hand operated clothes wringer, etc. Students could pose questions about the past by indentifying types of technology absent from the room that would be found in homes today, for example, a dishwasher, flat screen television, electric clothes dryer, mobile telephone, or a computer. Students could categorise the technologies of the past and present into those that require human energy to operate, in comparison to those that use another energy source such as electricity, gas or solar powered energy. The primary differences between the technologies of the past and present are that old fashioned technology often required more human energy input than predominantly electricity powered technologies available today.

With teacher supervision, access the Calthorpes’ House virtual tour, view the kitchen, then select the green [+] symbol near the kettle. Review the description of the kettle with the students, then select the [AC] symbol to hear an oral history recording of Mrs Dawn Waterhouse talking about how the kitchen was used.

Compare the virtual tour images of the kitchen with a kitchen in a home today; list the changes in technology, for example the wood fuel and electric stoves, compared to some kitchens today that have gas stoves and microwave ovens. Find recipes that require different cooking methods and compare the length of time required for cooking using a fuel or electric oven, compared with a microwave. With teacher supervision access the Calthorpes’ House virtual tour for the sitting, breakfast and dining rooms to view other examples of technology from the past including the telephone, wireless radio and pianola. Talk about the impact of changing technology on people’s lives at home, and the ways they worked, travelled, communicated and played in the past.

Identify and compare features of objects from the past and present by printing pictures of examples of technology seen in the ACT HP virtual tours, or use the template provided at the end of this lesson plan. Find pictures of equivalent technologies used today and discuss the differences or similarities between the past and present technology. Alongside these two images, students could draw what they think the technology will look like in the future. Alternatively, teachers can access the Museum Guide for Calthorpes’ House for images of key locations within the museum to discuss familiar objects from the past and how they compare with equipment used to carry out similar tasks today.

Choose a kitchen utensil from home and use as many words as possible to describe the tool; notice the size, colour, softness, the materials it is made of, how it is used, and with what type of food it is used, etc. Draw or photograph only part of the kitchen utensil. Show the class the drawing or photograph of the tool, and describe it using the list of words to see if the class can correctly guess your mystery kitchen utensil.


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.

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. Review different types of questions for example double header questions, and open and closed questions. 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, 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 activity provides an opportunity for students to independently apply what has been taught and provides assessment opportunities.

Write interview questions for a family or community member about an artefact. The focus of the interview for Year 2 students could be an artefact in the form of a building, or a natural environment that reveals human activity. A key question to pose should be how the artefact has changed over time. Develop interview questions that determine the impact of changing technology on people’s lives, for example at home and in the ways they worked, travelled, communicated, or how the person played in the past. Also, students should structure questions using appropriate verb tenses, for example see the recommendation in the teacher interview in Activity learning sequence A.

The number of questions should allow the interview to last no more than 10 minutes. Practice 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 tone. Carry out, whilst recording, the interview. If the person being interviewed lived in suburban Australia after 1930, students could use the Calthorpes’ House virtual tour as a prompt to focus the interview. If the person being interviewed lived in rural Australia after 1913, students could use the Mugga-Mugga virtual tour as a prompt to focus 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.

Activity learning sequence D templates

Changing technology: Entertainment







Changing technology: Telephone







Changing technology: Radio communication

Past: Wireless





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