3-D History – Active Revision with Playmobil

It is that time of year again when we’re scratching our heads trying to think of something different to do with revision classes. Well why not get a bit creative, raid the toy cupboard and see what you can find that is relevant to your schemes of work?

With Y11 revising the American West over the last couple of years I have been using a motley crew of Playmobil figures, old Hornby trains, plastic cowboys and buffalo together with scraps of felt from the sewing box. They live in the bottom of my filing cabinet; my boys don’t miss them now they’re older! These ‘characters’ play central roles in tasks designed to get pupils to demonstrate understanding of chronology,  reasons for change etc. Here are a couple of ideas:

Chronology – There are several possibilities here: One might be in the form of a cheeky little starter activity where you make a ‘time line’ with the models before class begins but have it with some mistakes included. The class have to explain what’s wrong and fix it! Another, obviously would be to get the pupils to make their own time lines. You can also get them to build ‘factor specific’ lines.

Turning Points – Develop the time line model and get pupils to change its shape to show a turning point. The line should change direction and there should be a discussion about why this has taken place. The physical act of changing direction and explaining the reasons helps to fix the idea in he mind. Further discussion can be set up about the extent of change by getting pupils to explain what is there earlier in the time line and what difference there is later.

Significance – What would happen if you take out a piece of the model? Gets the pupils to explain firstly, why they have included the piece identified and secondly, why it is significant. You can then expand this and identify two or three elements of the model which lends itself very nicely to discussion of relative significance.

Essay planning – Essentially its a twist on the written essay plan or mind-map type activity. The class is divided into groups with each looking at a different question. The ‘toy box’ starts in the centre of the room. Each group gets a chance to choose its ‘props’ from the box and then has five minutes to build a 3-D answer. When the time is up each group gets to explain their ‘answer’ and take questions.

When revision is finished why not keep the ‘cast’ handy and introduce them into other lessons? I’ve had some cracking sessions with groups using this technique from Y7 right through to the Sixth Form. Year 7 love using Lego to re-create the spread of castles after the Norman invasion and lower ability Y8 classes found making the slave trade triangle complete with ships and slave forts a great way to help them remember what was going on at each stage. I did have to keep an eye on the pouch of tobacco though!!

About richmiller66

My name is Richard Miller. I am currently Director of Learning and Head of History at a secondary school in Suffolk, UK. I teach history, politics and geography to pupils aged 11-18. I am particularly interested in teaching more able pupils and looking for innovative and creative approaches to learning and teaching. Having recently started studying for the NPQSL I'm using the blog as my reflective journal - the views I share are 'work in progress'!
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