Questioning and hypothesising
Encouraging students to ask and answer their own questions are key skills for historical enquiry.
Sit the students in a circle on the floor and show them a mystery object. Tell them you need their help to find out more about it. Slowly pass the object around the circle. Encourage each student to investigate it carefully but thoroughly. Remind them to hold it low over their laps so it won’t be damaged if dropped.
When the object has gone full circle, pass it around again. This time, each student must ask a different question about the object and try and answer it with the help of their peers, using the object as evidence, before passing it on (some ideas for questions are included below). When the object has gone full circle for a second time, the group can come up with a hypothesis about what the object might be – it doesn’t matter if they are incorrect, as long as they can justify their reasoning with the evidence they have unlocked through their investigation. When the investigation is complete, reveal as much information about the object as you know. Any unanswered questions can lead students to further research, through a museum visit, online or using the library for example.
Some useful questions for investigating objects include:
- What colour is it?
- What is it made from?
- Does it make a noise?
- What does it smell like?
- What was it made to do?
- Who was it made for?
- Are there any moving parts?
- Is it decorated?
- Is it complete – is anything missing?