Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

How our kits are being used in the classroom

In primary schools

YEAR R (Reception)

Self initiated activities
• Playground sand pit ‘dig’ spread over one week for whole year group using kit objects and others.

Circle Time
• Handling and talking about an object.

Dinosaurs topic
• Looking at materials and what survives after a long time.


Looking at evidence for the past
• Talking about Archaeology and museums.
• Examining kit finds, talking about and recording ideas. Using key questions in CAT KIT booklet.
• Talking about graves, skeletons and what we can learn from them.


Local History Study
• Discussion and observational drawing.

Local History Study – Anglo-Saxon lifestyle
• Discussion about ‘rubbish’ from the past.
• Looking at pictures of Anglo-Saxon homes.  Teacher used the clay daub from CAT KIT in a Feely Bag activity.  Children discussed what it could be, then were told by teacher. Using pictures and the daub, they learned about what usually survives of an Anglo-Saxon house (lumps of clay daub) and what decays (wooden branches) – but leave their impression in the cla.
• Used in conjunction with other resources:
Anglo-Saxon England, Longman.
The Story of a High Street, John Goodell ISBN 0-233-98070-9.
Images on CAT website

Game to use on a white board at

Visit to Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey

Life at the time of the birth of Jesus
• Sources of evidence for the period.

Sources of evidence for the past
• Comparing building materials outdoors in school playground to CAT KIT fragments.
• Examination of kit finds, discussion and recording of ideas. Using key questions in CAT KIT booklet.
• Discussion about graves, skeletons and what we can learn from them.

Free exploration
• With no information, children were given some finds and asked to think about what each was made of and how old it might be. They were encouraged to look for clues in an object and discuss what it might be.

Lunch time Archaeology Club
• Looking at things from a long time ago.
• Playing at ‘Burials’.
• Making wattle and daub walls.
• Making mosaic with clay

CAT KITS in the secondary schoolCAT KITS in the secondary school


Sources of evidence for the past
• Looking at how different sources are used to build a picture of the past
• Examining, drawing and labelling finds. Recording children’s thoughts on what they might be
• With one object for each pair of children, they were asked to find out as much as they could using p16 of CAT KIT booklet as a prompt. After 12 mins each pair reported their findings to the class. After each report the teacher read out the identification notes for that object from the catalogue. “Many of the pairs were very accurate in their findings and educated guesses … they thoroughly enjoyed this activity’ (YR 3)

Celtic-Roman topics
• Using finds to illustrate one element of how we know about the past. Work included class presentation, “How do we know what happened so long ago?” to whole school assembly
• Looking at primary sources of evidence for Roman Britain
• Examination, discussion and interpretation of fragments of evidence using questions in kit booklet
• Recording using My Object sheet in kit booklet
• Attempts at recreating the whole object – making pots using clay
• Using pottery fragments as starting point to discussion on Roman pottery
• Used in conjunction with other resources:
Looking at pictures of whole pots on CAT KIT page of CAT website
Looking at related pictures in IMAGE GALLERY of CAT website
Use of soil ‘layers’ diagrams on CAT website
(search for ‘Why History is a load of old rubbish’)
Selected use of THE BIG DIG images on CD included in kit
Reference books including CAT’s Roman Canterbury for children
Lullingstone Roman Villa teachers’ pack
Children’s COMPASS – British Museum website gallery of objects
Watch video on Roman Britain
Preparation/follow up work to a visit to Canterbury Roman Museum
Preparation for class visit to Lullingstone Roman Villa, looking at items which could have come from homes in Roman Britain. The activity supported the Learning Intention and Success Criteria for the visit. Children’s comments, discussion and work books provided evidence for formative assessment

Literacy work
• Using finds as stimulation for practising factual writing and formulating questions. Followed by discussion about whether and how the questions could be answered (eg. by further study). “The children met the success criterion for their work ie. They had written a set of questions for their artefact, using question words (what, why, how etc.) and a question mark”

Some of their written questions (YR 3):
“Why does it (pottery sherd) have 6 small holes on the outside?”
“Does my piece of pot go with Adam’s handle because they both have small round lumps on them and they both have small holes in them?”
“Who found the 4 bits of mosaic?”
“Where was it found?”
“When did they find it?”
“Why has it (pottery) gone black?”
“Why did the Romans make mosaics?”
“How many teeth did the animal have?”
“How was it found?”
“What kind of plate was it?”
“What drink did it hold?”
“What did it cook?”
“Which creature lived in this shell?”

This teacher went on to do some creative writing with groups of children (emphasising a distinction between this and factual writing). Each group had a find from the kit and a picture of the whole object from the CAT website, or similar. They created a ‘story’ about who it belonged to, how it was used, how it was broken/thrown away/lost etc. and wrote the story using a computer.

• Using finds to promote speaking, listening and co-operation. Small groups of children were given 6 pieces of pottery and asked to place them in order, oldest to most recent. Observations were made on:
Which pupils took turns?
Which listened to peers’ views and amended/argued their own point of view?
What sort of language did children use?
Could the group reach a consensus?
Could the group explain their ordering?

• Classifying finds into material types. Discussing what kind of things rot away if buried in the ground.

CAT KITS in the primary schoolCAT KITS in the primary schoolCAT KITS in the primary school


Developing investigative skills – linked to Ancient Egypt topic

• Sequencing historical periods using flash cards. Linking them to simple soil ‘layers’ diagrams.
• Classifying finds into ‘artefacts’ and ‘ecofacts’.
• Used in conjunction with other resources:
Classifying school’s own pictures of artefacts and ecofacts.
Using pictures of modern possessions to ask questions about 21st century way of life.
Children’s choice of (5) objects special to them brought from home discussing:
Why are these important to them?
What do they say about the owner?
What would the things look like in 100 years time?
• Follow up written work accompanying children’s own ‘burial’ photos.

Looking at archaeological evidence – linked to Ancient Egypt topic
• Simulating a ‘dig’ with sand tray and kit objects
• Using school long jump to make a ‘dig’ marking it out in a grid with string and burying the finds. Children discovered and recorded the finds in situ. Teachers photocopied the finds identification pages of the CAT KIT booklet (pp 5-10), cut these up into individual object descriptions – and deleted the CAT KIT identification numbers. They then gave the descriptions to the children to try and match them to what they had found.

Celtic-Roman topics
• Roman finds identified and used by pupils in personal research.

Preparation for excavation visit at Shorne Country Park
• Looking at types of archaeological evidence.

Themed whole school events

History Weeks
• Archaeology Day making a simple ‘dig’ in school grounds, using kit to look at evidence and interpret fragments.
• Other resources:
Elizabethan re-enactor.
Local veterans into school to talk about childhood in 1930’s bringing personal items – coins, toys, candlestick etc.
School log books.
• Group discussion about finds used to assess speaking and listening.
• Some teachers adapted C-K recording sheets to make their own.

Arts Week – focus on pottery manufacture and design
• Interpreting fragments:
Attempts at recreating whole pots from fragments through close observation and discussion then making pencil drawings of how they might have looked.
• Thinking about uses of ancient pots and what we use now.
• Other resources:
Looking at examples of complete ancient pottery.
Making pots with visiting potter.

CAT KITS in the primary schoolCAT KITS in the primary school

In secondary schools


What is History?
• Looking at CAT KIT finds as sources of evidence for the past.
• Discussion around what the complete object looked like and its use.
• Comparing objects with things we use today, how similar, how different.
• Used in conjunction with other resources – reconstructions and photographs on CAT KIT page of CAT website.

Local Study
• SLD children compared modern building methods/materials with those used in Roman times. Children learned about their new classrooms currently being built on the school site and examined the building fragments in the kit and hypocaust diagram in booklet. Their new classrooms will have underfloor heating as Roman buildings did – but not quite the same! Some children were able to select CAT KIT pieces and find relevant descriptions in the booklet.

The class teacher made a powerpoint presentation bringing the children’s work together.

• Used in conjunction with other resources:
‘Roman’ pictures from school’s resource bank.

Teachers comments about CAT KITs

• “Wanted to send a big THANK YOU from Class MH3 at St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Herne Bay. As soon as I saw the toolbox I was excited. I selected finds that…fit perfectly with my History/Creative theme. You gave the children a first hand experience that they will always remember, really bringing history to life for them. Your website was also a bonus…”
• “The students loved it! They found it incredible that they were able to touch real Roman and medieval artefacts”
• “Thank you so much for the wonderful CAT KIT. The pupils at Canterbury High thoroughly enjoyed handling the different local artefacts…(they) left the session buzzing with enthusiasm for history”
• “To have ‘the real thing’ is a valuable teaching aid”
• “They enjoyed it as it was all from the local area”
• “a very stunned reaction and actual realisation of how old a piece of plaster was”
• “I found the children were very focused… One of the main factors that appealed to the children was the fact that everything in the CAT kit is ‘real’ and has survived hundreds of years, it is the genuine article!!”
• “The children understood that these objects were real, did belong to the past and someone would have handled them long ago. It made the provenance work so much more worthwhile. I have done similar exercises with modern fakes or paper pieces and it is quite lame in comparison”
• “(The kit) generated some good thinking”
• “The children were initially intrigued by the CAT KIT. They feel it is special. They like going over to it, looking at the artefacts, being able to hold them. It promotes speaking and listening to each other…They comment when they see similar artefacts in pictures, books etc.”
• “Two pupils looking at a dog’s skeleton…at Lullingstone, talking unprompted about the jawbone and teeth comparing it to the pig’s jawbone from the CAT KIT, then going on to look excitedly for the jaws of the human and goose skeletons (osteo-archaeologists of the future?)”
• “Children were highly motivated to sketch their artefacts carefully from every different viewpoint and felt very pleased with their finished drawings.”
• “The children enjoyed ‘playing dead’ and discussing how their objects would look in time”
• “Loved feely bag…Loved idea that they could touch something someone touched and made so long ago”
• “Their interest in archaeology has really been wonderful to watch. It’s moments like this that make all the hassle worthwhile!”
• “The children were highly motivated and wanted to do more. Lovely hands on activity which benefited all”
• “The children thoroughly enjoyed looking at the CAT KIT and they, and I, would be keen to explore it more. I was particularly pleased with the ideas in the booklet”
• “It was great to see them having to look in more detail at the items”
• “This resource was amazing. It helped look at misconceptions and it was wonderful to see the children explore these at first hand. The pack was easy to read and the items well kept in a neat box. Thank you!”
• “It was in many cases surprising how much the children found out about their artefact. Pupils were eager to use the box again another time”

And from the children themselves

• “It’s much better than looking at pictures”
• “Cool! That’s well good”
• “Daub had cow poo in it – my mum told me”
• “Someone made this a long time ago…It’s real!”
• “I’m holding things that are older than my Gran”
• “I hope the person who owned this pipe didn’t have the plague”
• “I was good at putting the dates in order”
• “I really enjoyed touching the objects”