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An investigation into children's developing awareness of time and chronology in story

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This study explores how children in English primary schools perceive time and chronology in storybooks-whether the children are aware of the devices used in stories to manipulate time and chronological sequence, and whether their responses demonstrate their own ability to use these devices. Children aged between 3-9 years were involved in conversation about storybooks through the use of open-ended questions. Responses were analysed according to features of the talk that reflected the children's awareness of the time dimension within the stories. The data suggest that children are able to use temporal terms and perceive chronological sequence, or lack of it, at very early ages. If exposed to ideas about time within a meaningful context, young children are capable of surprisingly sophisticated ideas. The implications of this finding for teaching chronology and for the history curriculum are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2002

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