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History Ideas

Looking At Evidence

This is quite a good lesson to get your children to act like detectives and look at evidence in a way that they might not normally.

Find an old bag at home and fill it with items that a person would have in their bag if they were going on a journey somewhere. Try not to pick things that the children would recognise as belonging to you. Try and make it a fairly normal travel bag. I put in things like train tickets, a notebook (with shopping list in), a timetable, a map of the town, and some tourist leaflets.

Then think of the type of person that you want the bag to belong to and put in some more objects that will give the children clues (e.g. lipstick, bobbles, a small toy, painting kit). I tried to avoid putting in anything with an address on.

Now it's time for a little role-play. Treat your children as though you are a Police Inspector talking to a group of Police Detectives. Explain that this bag has been handed in at the local station and that you're trying to find out who it belongs to so that you can get it back to them. This works really well if YOU can keep in character.

Choose Detectives to come forward and examine the evidence (pull out an item from the bag). When each item is removed, stop and ask the children what they can tell you about the owner of the bag from the piece of evidence revealed. Start to build up a profile of the bag owner. Do further pieces of evidence support their initial ideas?

You can keep going until all the evidence has been revealed. By then the children should have a pretty good idea of what type of person they think that the bag belongs to. You can either ask them to go away and write a Police Report on the lost bag or ask them to present their reports verbally.

We had some really good language and discussion coming from this activity. One of the things that I asked was could the children think of ways of getting the bag back to its owner. Some suggested phoning up the number on the library ticket in the bag. Others suggested places an advert in the window of the shop that the person had a shopping receipt from.

It was a really enjoyable lesson. The next step, obviously, is to move on to some real historical evidence and attempt to link the skills that the children have gained from this activity.


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