Historypin has been created as part of Shift's campaign to get people from different generations to spend more time together. Find out more about the campaign and tools for schools. If you have any questions, email Shift's Education Manager Nicole at

Historypin is a really nifty tool to use in schools. To get you started we’ve created a couple of activity ideas:

You can use it in a range of different subject areas as well as in whole school initiatives:


Historypin can be used to develop understanding of:

  • Community cohesion (KS1: 2f, KS3: 1.3d, KS4: 1.3d) - Students could, for example, find photos that show factors that bring communities together – such as shared cultural events and leisure facilities - and see how these have changed over time. They could also look at factors that make communities more disconnected, such as new building and transport. They could use these to make recommendations for action they could take to improve community cohesion.
  • Appreciating diversity in the UK (KS1: 4c, KS2:2i, KS3: 3.1b, KS4: 3.1b) - Students could, for example, explore how areas and communities have changed as a result of migration by particularly focussing on religious buildings, markets and shops. They could explore the stories behind the photos to investigate the experiences of living in the UK of people from different areas and of different religions and ethnicities.


Historypin can be used as inspiration for:

  • Writing (KS1: En3 Writing - 12, KS2: En3 Writing - 12, KS3: 3.3e, KS4: 3.3e) - Sudents can use photos, and information they have gathered about them from their owner, to write stories to be posted on Histoypin. They can also use existing photos as inspiration for a range of writing tasks, such as developing the story behind a photo into a piece of fictional short-story telling or poem, or as the basis for a newspaper article or diary entry from the perspective of those at the time the photo was taken.
  • Reading to infer and deduce meaning and detect bias (KS2: 2a, KS3: 2.2b, KS4: 2.2f) - To develop student’s inference and deduction skills, students could be asked to choose from a selection of stories that best show how people can exaggerate their memories or understate their memories. They can explore why exaggeration and understatement might be common in stories based on memory.


Historypin can be used to develop:

  • Chronological understanding (KS1: 1a, KS2: 1a, KS3: 1.1b) - Photos from different times can be used to develop a sense of periods. Using photos and stories of the same place, for example a series of photos of Whitworth Road, in 1890, 1900, 1911, 1932 and the 1960s, to create a card sort activity, students could sort photos into chronological order, or into groups from the same era, and explain their thinking. 
  • Source analysis skills (KS1: 4a, KS2: 4a, KS3: 2.2a) - Students can compare photos with and without stories, from archives or personal memories, taken by photographers or family members, black and white and in colour, of places and people and decide which are the most reliable and useful for a range of different historical enquiries.
  • Understanding of change at a local scale (KS1: 2a, KS2: 7, KS3: 1.4a) - Students can explore and upload their own photos from a local area, or other areas on a local scale, that show change in living conditions, transport, employment, fashion (comparing this with this) and attitudes etc. and then explore the causes of change and make links between photos.


Historypin can be used as an example of a use of technology to explore:

  • Finding and evaluating information using technology (KS2: 5b, KS3: 2.1d, KS4:2.1c)  - Students can use Historypin to search by location, by key word and by date to find information about particular locations at particular times in order to answer questions. They can compare the information from different photos and stories and decide which are most useful and reliable.
  • Communication and collaboration (KS3: 1.2a, KS4: 1.2a) - Students can use Historypin to work on collaborative projects, working as a class, school or community to find as many old photos as possible of a particular building, street, area or around a theme. The impact of people working collaboratively to create collections of photos, allow comparisons, build on different people’s knowledge and experiences and reach conclusions can be shared on Historypin, and on our schools website:
  • The impact of technology (KS1: 5c, KS2: 5c, KS3: 1.4a, KS4: 1.4a) - The impact of Google maps, Street View and Historypin on people’s understanding of their local area, their ability to save and preserve their photos, their ability to share their history with a global audience and pass it on to future generations, and their ability to create a sense of shared experience and community history can all be explored by students working with Historypin. For further ideas for exploring the impact of technology, see Shift’s action: 137: Get someone offline on.


Historypin can be used to develop students’:

  • Map skills (KS1: 2c, KS2: 2c, KS3: 2.3a) - Students can pin photos on to the Historypin map using an address, developing their map reading skills, and pin them to Street View using recognisable features to determine the angle at which a photo was taken, to improve their ability to identify where places are.
  • Understanding of environmental change (KS1: 5a, KS2: 5a, KS3: 1.6a)  - Students can compare old photos with current Street View images that show environmental change, for example due to increases in transport, or the demands of industrialisation on water supply. They can identify the causes of the change and make suggestions for how environmental damage could be repaired or prevented elsewhere.
  • Ability to recognise patterns of change and identify processes that cause change (KS1: 3c and 4b, KS2: 3e and 4b, KS3: 1.2b and 1.5a) - Students can make comparisons between old photos and current Street View images to see how places have changed in two interconnected places. They can recognise the patterns and human and physical processes that cause these changes, such as an increase in suburban housing as a result of improved transport links or a decrease in residential housing in an area of coastal erosion.

School Partnerships

Historypin projects would be an ideal focus for schools links, either within the UK, or internationally ( ) Students could collect photos showing the history of their own local area to share with partner schools via Historypin. They could pose and respond to challenges and questions from partner schools to find the oldest photo, to discover which locality has undergone the most change and to find features of geographic and historical interest.

Community Cohesion

  • Teaching, learning and curriculum: Using Historpin in each curriculum area as outlined above will provide opportunities for developing a sense of community and cultural heritage, and for exploration of what brings about community cohesion and the factors that influence change in communities.
  • Equity and excellence: Using Historypin in each curriculum area as outlined above, will bring opportunity to motivate students by showing appreciation of their cultural heritage. The accessibility of activities on Historypin will offer all students the chance to participate and feel a sense of achievement.
  • Engagement and extended services: Historypin can be used as the focus for a range of different projects and enquiries in different community contexts:
    • School community: Historypin can be used to as a focus for extended services, showcasing ICT facilities and providing a focus for family ICT sessions.
    • Neighbourhood community:  Historypin projects and events can encourage the neighbourhood to contribute to a picture of local history and offer a chance to show off a shared local heritage.
    • UK and Global communities: Contributing to Historypin is contributing to a picture of the UK and Global history, placing individual stories and experiences in a national and global context.

Embedding ICT across the curriculum

The use of Historypin across a range of different subject areas as outlined above, or in cross-curricular projects can ensure that all teachers can appreciate the benefits of ICT their subject areas and recognise the ICT skills and confidence of their students.

Cross curriculum dimensions

  • Identity and cultural diversity: Historypin projects that explore the way a local area or wider communities in the UK have changed over time will develop students’ understanding of the multiple and shared identities, beliefs, cultures, traditions and histories of the people in the UK, and recognise that these have shaped and continue to shape life here. (more info)
  • Community participation: Students inviting members of the community into school to contribute to Historypin projects provides an opportunity for them to work with a wide range of people of different ages and backgrounds participate with others in meaningful community activities with real outcomes (more info).

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