Peek into the past

Opportunities for the children to reflect on memories and experiences from their own past and comment on images of familiar situations in the past.

Please note

Subject documents, such as those linked in the Unit resources section below, will be updated to reflect this new content by 8th September 2023.

Teacher video: Peek into the past

Teacher guidance

Using the activities


The activities are designed to support Reception teachers in targeting Development matters statements and laying the foundations for pupils’ further history learning. In this unit, the Development matters statement ‘Comment on images of familiar situations in the past‘ is broken down into its core skill and knowledge components, linked to the Kapow Primary History curriculum in KS1 and KS2.


Refer to the skills and knowledge grid below to choose which activities to use with your class.


Activities can be delivered in any order and at any time of the year to suit your curriculum, specific topic, or cohort.



Activities can be organised to suit your setting. Options include:

  • Using them as a whole-class lesson.
  • Introducing activities to the whole class before setting them up as part of the enhanced provision.
  • Allowing children to access the activities independently as part of the enhanced provision.


Choose your activity

Activity 1: Can you guess who?

To describe changes over time.

Activity 2: Past and present

To sort photographs from the past and present.

Activity 3: My life timeline

To begin to recognise the order events happen.

Activity 4: Toy box

To identify toys from the past.

Activity 5: Spot the difference

To compare pictures from the past and present.

Key skills

  • Recounting activities

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Key knowledge

To know:

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Key vocabulary


a long time ago

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Further guidance

Ideas for topic links



All About Me




Recommended texts


‘Once There Were Giants’ by Martin Waddell.

Toys in the Past’ by Elizabeth Moore.

‘Peepo’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle.

‘The Leaf Thief’ by Alice Hemming.


Continuous provision ideas


Role play area: Provide baby dolls, bath, sponges, nappies and milk bottles. You could include dressing up clothes to suggest clothes from the past, for example, a flat cap, apron or a faux-fur scarf.


Wider experiences


Visitor: Parents, carers or members of the community to talk about their childhoods and share photographs.

Trip: Local toy or early childhood museum see link: Toy Museums.


Ideas for at home


To help children practise the skills covered in this unit and consolidate their knowledge, why not look at some photo albums together or photographs from past experiences or memories? Can they remember where they went in the photo? Whom did they go with? What happened that day?

Unit resources

Pupil progression of skills

An overview of the skills and

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