Guide for junior teachers

From a young age students are becoming familiar with how to navigate their way through the web. Many see it as their first port of call when trying to find out about something. For teachers the internet is also an important teaching tool. How we design, develop, and deliver educational material to learners has changed dramatically as a result of the internet. We are able to access things in the classroom that would have seemed impossible a decade ago.

NZHistory is a prime example of these developments. On average this website has 5000 visitors a day, many of whom are coming to the site for educational purposes. This site is an important tool for school programmes and provides a number of contexts in which the aims of the social sciences in the New Zealand Curriculum can be addressed.

The primary aim of the social sciences is to enable students to explore how societies work and how they themselves can participate and take action as critical, informed and responsible citizens. One way to think of this is in developing the social literacy of your students. Coverage of New Zealand content is critical in achieving this social literacy for New Zealand students. NZHistory supports this aim. It provides a range of features and material that enable schools to explore the rich and diverse nature of New Zealand’s past and enable students to explore the impact of this history on the world they live in.

NZHistory can be used as a quick and reliable reference for teachers seeking authoritative content on a range of New Zealand topics. It is an ideal entry point for those with little formal knowledge and training in New Zealand history.

Getting started

In the future it is our intention to provide units of work in the Classroom section of New Zealand history online specifically for primary school teachers and students. An early example of this can be found in the feature on the Wahine disaster in our Culture and Society section. You will see a link through to some Classroom activities that include ideas on how this feature and its media gallery could be used from Levels 1 to 4. The beauty of these online resources is that they are easily adapted to meet the needs of individual classes and schools. We welcome feedback on these resources and suggestions and ideas as to how they might be improved.

While more of these ideas are being developed, here are some suggestions as to how you could begin to use New Zealand history in your programme.

1. Today in History

Every day the homepage of New Zealand History online presents a story based on an event or person associated with that date in our history. Today in History provides a range of entries that cover some of the more obvious or well-known stories and people from our past, as well as more quirky and unusual events. By following the links provided, teachers and students can explore that day’s story in as much (or as little) detail as they want. By clicking on the link to the NZHistory Calendar at the top of any page in New Zealand History online you will see a monthly view of events. A drop-down menu will allow you to choose any month of the year. Alternatively, by clicking on any event you will also get a weekly view of Today in History. In this way you are presented with several ways of planning how you might incorporate Today in History into your own teaching programme.

Today in History could be incorporated into your own teaching practice as:

  • An introduction or starter to your lesson or day.
  • Support for units of work you are currently teaching.
  • The basis of a small social inquiry topic: e.g. members of your class could research the topic or person associated with their birthday; alternatively, dates could be allocated to the class at random. Students could then make some form of presentation to their classmates or display their findings in a section of the room devoted to ‘Today in History’.
  • As a springboard into a wider study: e.g. 25 April can be used to help launch an in-depth study of the Anzac story, Gallipoli, New Zealand in the First World War, or the place of war in shaping national identity.

2. Support for the social sciences curriculum achievement objectives

New Zealand History online provides a range of topics that schools can use to help create a curriculum that reflects their school and community. New Zealand History online also provides a range of contexts to use in adopting a social inquiry approach to teaching and learning in the social sciences. In particular, these help address the conceptual strands of the social sciences curriculum, namely:

Identity, Culture, and Organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about their effects on the participation of groups and individuals.

Place and Environment – Students learn about how people perceive, represent, interpret and interact with places and environments. They come to understand the relationships that exist between people and the environment.

Continuity and Change – Students learn about past events, experiences and actions, and the changing ways in which these have been interpreted over time. This helps them to understand the past and present, and to imagine possible futures.

The Economic World – Students learn about the ways in which people participate in economic activities and about the consumption, production and distribution of goods and services. They develop an understanding of their role in the economy and of how economic decisions affect individuals and communities.

3. Digital Learning objects

Many schools are no doubt aware of the material available from the Ministry of Education Te Pataka Matihiko - Digistore and are using this digital resource to enhance learning across the curriculum. New Zealand History online is another free source of media for schools which can bring a digital dimension to your teaching and learning. These digital learning objects - whether photos, paintings, sound archives or moving images - can be used in a variety of levels and topics. They are often an excellent way to begin a study.

The multi-media approach of New Zealand History online provides many digital learning objects that enable students to work with content and ideas in new and dynamic ways, either individually or collaboratively. Students can explore and investigate history with authentic digitised artefacts and sources that can challenge them to question, investigate, analyse, synthesis, solve problems, make decisions, and reflect on their learning.

For more on Digital Learning Objects and New Zealand History online visit the Teachers Toolbox in the Classroom.

4. Class quizzes and challenges

People love quizzes and in my experience students are no exception. Each week New Zealand History online posts a quiz based on that week in New Zealand history. The answers can be found within the site and this can be a good end-of-week activity. For instance, if you are lucky enough to have ready access to a data projector and computer these can be displayed and tackled individually, in pairs or in teams with a time limit set. Alternatively they can be set as a little inquiry task to complete over the course of the week.

In addition to this quiz there will be another provided each week within the Classroom section just for schools. This will explore New Zealand history in general but the answers can be found in the site so again there are options as to how you might choose to use it. Teachers who want to develop their own quizzes or perhaps other challenges such as scavenger hunts will find plenty of material in New Zealand History online to help them.

How to cite this page

'Guide for junior teachers', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012

Community contributions

4 comments have been posted about Guide for junior teachers

What do you know?


Posted: 09 Oct 2014

What a great website for schools to use. I can't wait to start using it in my classroom. Thank you!

Charles Ernest Belton

Posted: 11 Nov 2011

My Father and four bothers went to Royal Oak in Auckland, NZ. I have a picture of them winning "Rupert Morre Cup and the Auckland Primary Schools' Junior Chamionship of 1941". I want to learn more! Thank you, Charles E. Belton US 3741 Barlow Rd. Lumber Brigde, North Carolina Zip Code: 28357


Posted: 15 Feb 2011

Hi Hannah - this book is no longer in print and I am not sure where you can get a copy outside of a library.
We do provide pdf copies of another series of booklets about the Treaty produced by SSC, however - you can find these here.

Hannah Ward

Posted: 15 Feb 2011

I have a book that has your website printed on the publications page. It is called "The Tree House Treaty" by Wiremu Grace I got it for free from somewhere and use it every year in my class programme. Does anyone know how I can get another copy for a fellow teacher of mine? Thanks