New Simulation: The League of Nations in the 1920s

In this new multimedia simulation students will take on the role of an ambitious civil servant, working for the British government. They will offer advice about how ministers should try to improve international stability. A structured worksheet guides students through 12 key issues: 4 relating to border disputes, 4 relating to social affairs, and 4…

PSHE – Smoking

I’m currently working on uploading all my PSHCE resources to a new website, This new study unit on the dangers of smoking is one new example that you might find useful if you are a form tutor.

ActiveHistory has been upgraded to a brand new server!

It’s been quite a mammoth task, but ActiveHistory (and ClassTools) have been moved to a brand-new, state-of-the-art dedicated server. It’s been a complicated and expensive process, but this should ensure that the sites are faster and more stable than ever to cope with the demands created by distance learning especially during the current pandemic!

Blind Date, 1066!

Blind Date, 1066! A roleplay exercise enabling students to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various contenders for the English throne in 1066. As a homework, students produce a propaganda poster for the candidate of their choice. There are teacher notes available along with a presentation and a sample poster.

A History of Face Masks

Since the COVID pandemic, face masks have become familiar to all of us. In this new unit of study, students will learn how face masks have been used throughout history, all over the world, for all sorts of weird and wonderful reasons. They will research one mask each, then share their findings as a group…

Factual Test: Changes in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

25-question factual test This test (complete with teacher answer sheet) can be used to confirm that students have taken detailed and effective notes on the topic. Part of the scheme of work: In what ways, for what reasons, and with what results, did the Civil Rights movement become more radical after 1964?

ActiveHistory is now FLASH FREE!

After updating the Battle of Hastings Simulation, and following on from the update to Fling the Teacher, I think(!) that there are now no Flash features left on the website. This is in response to the fact that as from next year no major browsers will continue to support Flash for security reasons. If you…

Bringing Codes and Codebreaking into the History Classroom

Overview When studying topics involving intrigue, secrets or subterfuge, present students with the essence of the story in the form of a coded message familiar at the time. Challenge them to decode the message to engage them effectively from the outset. Case Studies Lady Jane Grey (Caesar Cipher) The famous “nine days’ queen” is Lady…

Calendar of Historical Anniversaries, 2019-2020

Calendar for Educators, 2019-2020 The following project developed from my “History in the News” facility which I also recommend you look at. 1. Here is a FREE printable calendar providing notable anniversaries (multiples of 50 years only) for research, discussion, assemblies and personal projects. Ideas for student tasks: Choose one event to research further and…

Renaissance Florence Simulation – updated, relaunched

The “Time Machine Journey to Renaissance Florence” simulation has been updated with video clips, a ‘save game’ feature so that they can play over several lessons and the ability for students to print off a personalised certificate of achievement when (and if!) they finish the mission successfully.  

What is history all about? The who, when and why!

What is history all about? The who, when and why! A teacher-led online presentation, based around three central themes and leading neatly into the ‘time machine’ activity which follows: 1. When (Periods): Historians are Time Travellers! 2. Who (People): Historians are Friendly Time Travellers! 3. What (Evidence): Historians are Friendly Time Travelling Detectives! Part of the…

Who is your historical hero?

I have updated this popular project with some several more illustrative examples and a link to the Amazon store where you can purchase cardboard cubes to allow your students to make more professional “History Cubes”!

Turbo-Timeline Generator!

I have developed a brand-new timeline generator over at ActiveHistory’s sister site, All you have to do is COPY and PASTE a timeline from a website or word document, click a button and you get an animated timeline you can navigate through. Here is an example on the Life and Career of Cromwell, and…

New Interactive Timeline Generator!

Create an interactive classroom newsfeed using this simple interface! Simply provide a list of points you wish to share with your students. ClassTools will then turn it into an ‘race against the clock’ newsfeed for your students to take notes from as efficiently as possible! Here’s a sample, but you can easily create your own!

IB Extended Essay: Marksheet and Guidance

Marksheet and Guidance A student-friendly version of the IB mark scheme, combining the generic guidance from the IB as well as its subject-specific criteria for History.

Recommended Films for the History Classroom

Recommended History VIDEO | (see also podcasts and books) I have updated this searchable directory of useful films for the history classroom with 50 new entries based on some of the most recent feature films released in the past couple of years.

Spotify Jukebox – Songs for the History Classroom

Spotify Jukebox for the History Classroom I have updated this resources with several new playlists and lots of new songs. If you already have Spotify, open it up before trying to play tracks. If you don’t have Spotify you will be prompted to install it on your system. See also: Blogpost – 50+ Essential Songs for the…

One sentence summaries: conclusions on the Presidents

These resources are a great way to tie together a study of History of Americas. They specifically cover the period 1945-1980 but the approaches used are easily adaptable for other time periods and regions. One sentence summaries: conclusions on the Presidents At the end of the debate outline above, each member of the class at…

Post-War American Presidents to 1980: Detailed summary sheet for revision

These resources are a great way to tie together a study of History of Americas. They specifically cover the period 1945-1980 but the approaches used are easily adaptable for other time periods and regions. Detailed summary sheet for revision This comprehensive printout provides a thorough breakdown of the domestic and Latin American policy achievements and…

Comprehensive Summary Sheet for Revision: The Civil Rights Movement to 1965

Comprehensive Summary Sheet for Revision: The Civil Rights Movement to 1965 A thorough and essential revision aid over several pages. Suggested tasks: People: Decide upon the most important individuals in the civil rights movement (highlighted in yellow). Divide these between the class to research further, then conduct a classroom balloon debate to determine the overall…

Revision Summary Sheet: anti-apartheid resistance groups

Revision Summary Sheet: anti-apartheid resistance groups An illustrated summary sheet of the aims and objectives of various resistance groups – an ideal revision aid. The IB Paper 1 (sourcework) option “Rights and Protest” requires students to cover two case studies: Case study 1: Civil rights movement in the United States (1954-1965) Case study 2: Apartheid…

Using drinking straws to study competition, co-operation and the arms race

Overview This short, simple but effective exercise (requiring nothing more than some drinking straws) helps students understand about the limits of co-operation, the dangers of unbridled rivalry and the importance of co-operation. In this sense it can be used in a variety of contexts but I personally use it to provoke a discussion about the…

Design “Tubular Timeline Towers” for chronological understanding

Overview As a ‘choose your own homework‘ option, suggest to students that they consolidate their chronological understanding by constructing a “Tubular Timeline Tower”. Case Study In the February holidays, I give an open homework task to students who will be taking public exams in May. I ask them to choose any topic that they are…

“History in your pocket”: Coins as sources

Overview This great idea was developed from an idea shared by @histHartford. This photo comes from Mr. Atkinson (@AtkoHistory) and was shared to the #historyteacher hashtag on Twitter by @EllenWicks: Taking it further Students should be encouraged to bring in coins and banknotes from their foreign travels at the start of the Autumn term. This…

Student bookmark: Key vocabulary for essay writing

Overview I have designed the following bookmark in order to help students use a richer range of vocabulary to express their ideas more clearly in essays: Sets of these bookmarks can be printed off, laminated, cut out, and then shared with students to keep in their planners or textbooks. Download Student bookmark: vocabulary for essay writing

Use “EyeSay!” to give visual feedback on student essays

“EyeSay!” is a new tool I have coded at to help students and teachers get a useful visualisation of essay style and structure. Students simply copy and paste their essay from a word processor, and then the web application colour-codes its central stylistic features. For students, it helps them develop their writing – They…

Rights and Protest Sourcework Sample: The Rivonia Trial

The following materials are designed to provide teachers and students with practice sourework exercises for the “Rights and Protest” topic in the IB History examination. The Rivonia Trial: Did Mandela’s decision to abandon nonviolence do more harm than good? Complete sourcework exercise in the style of IB, with model answers provided.

50 Essential Songs for the History Classroom

I am a big fan of music in the history classroom and I have created a number of Spotify Playlists for this purpose. Often this is merely to help create a calm and purposeful working atmosphere, when a bit of Chopin or Debussy sets the tone perfectly. Occasionally it’s even possible to have calming instrumental music directly…

Add a ‘how certain are you?’ element to spice up factual tests

Overview To spice up factual tests, require students not merely to provide an answer, but to choose how many points to play for to reflect their confidence. If they’re correct, they win that amount of points, if not they lose the same amount. Example Here is the start of a factual test on the Civil Rights Movement. Students…

New Book from ActiveHistory: “A History Teaching Toolbox”

A History Teaching Toolbox is the perfect handbook for busy classroom teachers eager to try out some new strategies with their students. More than 60 tried and tested activities and approaches are organised into helpful categories and explained with step-by-step instructions and topic-specific examples to illustrate how they can be immediately employed. A History Teaching…

Protest placards: design, anticipate, react

Overview When studying an issue, event or personality which is open to different interpretations, get students to design a placard summarising their personal viewpoint. Alternatively, ask students to suggest how particular historians or observers would summarise their viewpoint in just a few words, or even anticipate what the actual slogans were in photographs of genuine protest marches. Example 1…

Using limericks as a revision tool

Overview As part of a ‘choose your own homework‘ menu, give students the option to produce a set of limericks to help them memorise some key events, dates or individuals. Case Study Here’s an example produced by one of my students when the homework was simply ‘choose a topic from our GCSE studies that you are…

Counterfactuals in History

Overview To help students decide how important a factor was in causing a particular event, ask them to consider whether events would have turned out differently without it. To have validity, this ‘counterfactual’ approach should not descend into mere speculation. Instead, students should be prepared and trained to substantiate their assertions with evidence to help…

Who is your Historical Hero?

I have updated the “Who is your historical hero?” study unit to make use of the ‘Knowledge Cubes’ approach which I outline in more detail at Tarr’s Toolbox.

Knowledge Cubes – originally posted on Tarr’s Toolbox

Overview When students conduct research on key individuals, get them to write up their findings on a cardboard cube, with each of the six faces covering a different theme. After the class has exchanged its findings in the form of a balloon debate or similar, collect the cubes in and, as an extension activity, invite pairs of students to…

Source work skills revision

A new page on the website collating some useful resources designed to improve and revise source work skills for GCSE / IGCSE history.

ActiveHistory: Year in Review

It’s been a typically busy year developing ActiveHistory with new resources based on the interests of my students and feedback from visitors to the website! A rundown of resources and events can be found *here*.  

Top 10 Free Activities for the History Classroom from ActiveHistory

ActiveHistory is updated so frequently with worksheets, interactive simulations and other resources that it’s sometimes difficult to keep track! Here are ten of the most popular FREE resources on the site (theActiveHistory Gallery provides lots more ideas and resources). To get full access to other resources available to subscribers, please sign up for a free trial.

Free countdown timer

I’ve just put the finishing touches to a new ClassTools template ( which I hope you will find useful. Unlike other online timers, this one is designed to work on tablet devices as well as standard computers. You can also add multiple timers, run them in sequence or all at once, add a tune / YouTube video to…

“Back to School” ActiveHistory resources for all year groups!

It’s great to start the new school year with some suitably engaging activities. With that in mind I thought I’d share with your the resources I’ll be using with my teaching groups in case you want to make use of them yourself! There are plenty of syllabus changes taking place in different educational systems at…

‘Google Hangout’ with Orlando Figes!

In June 2014, the world-renowned historianProfessor Orlando Figes generously agreed to participate in a live video link-up experiment with IB Historians at the International School of Toulouse to answer questions about the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Over the course of 45 minutes he answered a wide range of questions that the class had formulated in advance following an…

The only historical documentary script you’ll ever need!

I am a historical documentary addict. So maybe I should try my hand at writing the perfect historical documentary script using all of my favourite clichés. What follows is my ‘one size fits all’ documentary script which I plan to simply adjust as necessary as the commissions inevitably come rolling in. My “One Size Fits All”…

Historians on Twitter

I’ve just finishing putting together adynamically-updating list of professional historians on Twitter (at the current count, more than 300!) which you might find useful: Historians on Twitter

ActiveHistory: The Year in Review

I hope you have a good start to the New Year!  I have put together a summary of some of the main additions to ActiveHistory over the past 12 months. There may have been some that you have overlooked and I hope you find it useful. ActiveHistory: The Year in Review

SOLO Hexagons Generator

SOLO Hexagons allow students to identify links between factors very effectively. Students categorise and link factors together for deeper understanding of the relationship between factors. This new template at allows you to quickly create hexagons by simply cutting and pasting a list of terms direct from your word processor!

Google Calendar for Educators

This calendar lists important annual events that might be commemorated in school lessons and assemblies. If you think any important dates are missing, please let me know using the feedback form. You can easily subscribe to this Google Calendar with the click of a button.

Fakebook – Relaunched, Reprogrammed!

The very popular “Fakebook” Application at ActiveHistory’s sister site has been completely reprogrammed to bring it up to date with what Facebook now looks like in 2013. Use “Fakebook” to chart the plot of a book, the development of a character, a series of historical events, the debates and relationships between people, and so…

Posters – “What’s going on in my History Classroom?”

These posters (click on each for a larger version!) are designed to be printed, laminated and displayed outside your classroom so that passers-by can get a flavour of what’s being studied in your history classroom. They can be changed at appropriate points and they are a great way of highlighting the great topics that your…

New Historical Pictures Widget for your blog / website!

This brand new ActiveHistory widget provides a rolling gallery of historical images shared by some of my favourite people on Twitter. A great way to add a visual element to your blog or website, or to have on the screen as your students enter the room! Just click the widget icon at the top left…

Widget for your blog – Today in History

This new widget displays SIGNIFICANT anniversaries in history each day (e.g. 100 years today, 50 years today rather than the pointless type of ’73 years ago today’ announcements common in similar widgets). You can customise the size, font and colourscheme to match your own blog, website or wiki.

Fake SMS Text Message Generator

Use the icons in this new template to create a chat between two historical or fictional characters. You can save your work for future changes. You can drag and drop, edit and delete entries by hovering over them. After saving, you will also be able to get a QR Code or embed the chat into…

20th Century Dictators: Historiography – Why do dicators emerge?

Historiography – Why do dictators emerge? This activity encourages students to investigate the theories of six different historians (Marx, Davies, Huntington, Gurr, Tilly, Skocpol) whom have formulated theories regarding the causes for the rise of dictators. These theories are compared, contrasted and linked: structuralists are separated from intentionalists. Finally, students consider which of the dictators…

20th Century Dictators: Feedback Process

Feedback Process In this lesson, students start to compare and contrast the different methods and conditions used by different dictators to obtain power. Working in pairs, small groups and then as a class, they identify the most prevalent methods and conditions. They then identify exactly which dictators match these criteria and makes notes from the…

20th Century Dictators – Research Template

Research Template Students use this template to record their findings about the key “Methods” and “Conditions” which led to the rise to power of the dictator they have researched.

20th Century Dictators: Introductory Historiography and Research Task

Introductory Historiography and Research Task Each student chooses one dictator from the IB Syllabus Africa: Kenya-Kenyatta; Tanzania-Nyerere Americas: Argentina-Peron; Cuba-Castro Europe and the Middle East: Germany-Hitler; USSR-Stalin; Egypt-Nasser Asia and Oceania: China-Mao; Indonesia-Sukarno

Critical Thinking – The 6-Hat Technique (Worksheet/Lesson Plan)

Part of the ‘Critical Thinking’ PSHCE unit. In this activity, the teacher will take the role of someone with a “Green Hat”. They will choose (or ask the class to vote on) one of the “Imagine a world…” discussion point which are listed overleaf (or invent one of their own). When the discussion point has…

Harvard Citation Generator

Other citation generators need YOU to do most of the hard work – and only look for books. This one searches for books, websites and films. All it needs is a web address or a title / author of a book / film.

Facebook Template

The popular ‘Fakebook’ template allows for the creation of Facebook profiles for students and teachers. It now has an ‘animate’ feature and there is an extensive list of sample profile pages to draw inspiration from.

ActiveHistory Site Search Facility

Following feedback from subscribers I have added a custom site search facility. You will see the search box included at the bottom of all main menu pages in the website including the homepage. Hope you find it useful!

Introducing “Fakebook Animated”

One of the most popular applications I’ve developed in the past couple of years has been “Fakebook“, a Fake Facebook Profile Generator that students can use to create engaging narratives of people, places and concepts. I’ve been working on developing the code over the past fortnight so that the application is much quicker (for example…