Everything you need to know about teaching Foundation Year History
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
If you're new to teaching Foundation Year (Prep) or you're teaching Foundation Year History for the first time, you might find the curriculum a little overwhelming.
The Australian Curriculum (ACARA) introduced HASS (History and Geography) many years ago, and I must say it was jam-packed at first. They have modified and streamlined it a little now with curriculum 9.0, but there is still a LOT of content to cover.
From an experienced HASS specialist teacher, here is what you need to know.
There is so much content to cover!
As any experienced teacher will tell you, ACARA is so stuffed with concepts that it's nearly impossible to cover everything in the detail you want. You will be able to touch on it all, but as teachers know, there isn't enough time to consolidate learning. So be kind to yourself and your students and pick the concepts you want to focus on with some depth.
What do I need to cover then?
ACARA 9.0 breaks HASS down into two main areas of learning:
Knowledge and Understanding (subjects specific)
Skills (transferable across both HASS areas)
Knowledge and Understanding contain elaborations that suggest how this can be taught, but this is not prescribed.
The main concepts covered by both History and Geography are:
Who am I, where do I live, and who came before me?
Why are some places and events special, and how do we know?
What's the difference?
In simple terms, the Skills cover the HOW and the Knowledge and Understanding cover the WHAT.
Skills are ways of teaching such as sequencing, sorting, comparing, posing questions, looking at data, drawing conclusions etc... These are the skills we want students to master throughout their subjects and across their year levels. They should be part of your teaching approach regardless of what subject you are teaching.
Knowledge and Understanding are the key historical concepts (topics) ACARA wants you to cover.
Tell me about each of the Knowledge and Understandings I should cover.
The Foundation Year History curriculum 9.0 is broken down into three elements.
the people in their family, where they were born and raised, and how they are related to each other
the celebrations and commemorations of significant events shared with their families and others
How do I do this?
When teaching Foundation Year history, you start working with what the child knows and can do. In this case, the child knows their family. They know and can name the members of their family with relative ease. So this is where you begin.
Identifying and naming the different members of a family (for example, mother, father, step-parent, caregiver, sister, brother, grandparent, aunty, uncle, cousin) and creating concept maps of their family with pictures or photographs to show the relationship between family members.
get students to bring in photographs of family members and write about them
send family trees home for students to complete with parents
practice naming and sequencing family members
develop a word wall of terms they might not be familiar with, such as step-parent, sibling and the difference between aunty and Aunty (for Indigenous children)
draw a concept map with circles to represent family members, write names and make connections on the page to each person in the family
model family trees with your own family
show lots of images of 'other' types of families so students can see how their family is the same or different to other students and that this is okay (it's important to know your students' backgrounds for this with regards to culture, family structure, same-sex couples or death of family members)
Finding out where they were born and raised and placing their photographs, drawings and names on a classroom world map.
print out a large map of the world and discuss with students where their family members might be born (they may not know so try to grab a family member during the start or the end of school time and see if they can place a pin on the map on their behalf)
spend time discussing the pins placed on the map with the whole class - where are most of the pins located?
Making a calendar of commemorative events that students, their family and friends celebrate (for example, birthdays, religious festivals such as Easter, Ramadan, Buddha’s Birthday, Feast of Passover; family reunions and community commemorations such as NAIDOC week and Anzac Day) and discussing why they are important.
discuss what a celebration is and what things are common to celebrations (food, music, decorations, happiness, family)
briefly explore a few celebrations with students (keep these seasonal to the time of year so students can make stronger real-world connections)
print and enlarge a blank calendar and spend an afternoon listing events students celebrate
ask students which events they celebrate and mark these on the calendar with students
give students a shortlist of celebrations and see if they can glue them on a matching calendar using your piece as the modelled example
You can find all the materials and instructions for teaching Foundation Year History in the Foundation Year History pack here.