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Historical skills

Classroom activities for students in years 5 to 12

Knowing & understanding

1. Develop criteria for determining reliability of sources including public documents, personal documents, paintings, photographs, oral histories, artefacts and multimedia. You could do this in groups or as individuals.

Which historical sources do you consider the most reliable and why? Which historical sources do you consider to be unreliable and why? Why is it important for historians and curators to use a range of historical sources?

Applying & analysing

1. Investigate how the Museum represents controversial history. Use the Bells Fall Gorge interactive and accompanying resource as an example representation of a controversial event in our history. Discuss as a class or in groups. The Bells Falls Gorge interactive is at

2. Closely examine a museum display. Visit your local museum and in groups or as individuals, consider how the museum has presented the chosen theme, event or story. What would you do to improve the display? Would you present the same view or a different view? Consider the:

  • type of sources on display
  • usefulness and reliability of these sources
  • point of view presented

3. Create a 'Snapshots of History' timeline. You could do this in groups or as individuals. Choose ten to fifteen images from Australia's history. What events, stories and people would you include and why? Compare your picture timeline with others in your class. You could create your timeline online at

Evaluating & creating

1. Create an exhibition on a topic such as:

  • a controversial event or historical debate from Australia's history
  • an event in your local community from several perspectives

You could do this as a class or in groups. Remember to include a selection of objects and images in your exhibition with detailed labels identifying what the artefact is and why it was selected for your exhibition.

2. Explore the ABC's Black Saturday website at and in groups or as individuals discuss the reliability of the:

  • website
  • sources, including the films of personal stories
  • interactive timeline