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This activity was a learning provocation for our unit of inquiry on Ancient Civilisations with PYP 5. Provocations are designed to engage students, get them excited about their learning and start thinking about what questions they have about the topic. We also used this activity to incorporate narrative writing (focusing on historical fiction) elements for English Language lessons.

This work is written by: Renee Amir


Materials Needed:

  • Historical fiction anchor chart.
  • Sensory details chart for each student.
  • VR kits + VR tablet downloaded with Expedition tours to different Ancient Civilisations. 


  • Check with IT about set-up of VR kits before start of lesson.
  • Check that all VR kits work.
  • Check Expedition tours and practice guiding.



  • Recap features of historical fiction focusing on setting. 
  • Group Activity: Provide students with discussion questions to discuss in their groups: 
  1. How do we make our story realistic and believable?
  2. How do we get into the world of our Ancient Civilisation?
  3. How do we create sensory images?
  • Share discussions with the class.

Explicit Instruction:   

  • Ask students to share what they know about the 5 senses and how this can be incorporated in their historical fiction writing. 
  • Show sensory details chart and share that we will be filling up the chart together. Ask students for suggestions of Ancient Civilisation to focus on as a class. Under the title ”Individual Practice” you find an activity sheet I created based on other worksheets I found. It’s for the students to write down their thoughts and ideas about the images they saw linked to our narrative/historical fiction writing as well as to use their senses to imagine life in the different ancient civilisations’ expeditions. 
  • Students will be split up into 2 groups. 1 group will research using Chromebooks, while the other will be going on an expedition using VR kits. The two groups will then swap activities.

Supported Practice: 

  • For Chromebook group – go through expectations (staying focused on task, suggestions of websites they can use, how to fill up sensory details chart based on research).
  • For VR kits group – go through expectations (taking care of kits, listening and following guide’s instructions, how to use information from expedition to gather sensory details of that historical time period).
  • Give each group around 15 minutes to work on task. Lead expedition for VR kits group. Groups swap activities.

Individual Practice: 

  • Give students a few minutes after both tasks are completed to fill in the sensory details chart independently.


  • Pair students with lower language ability with students with higher language ability. 
  • Teacher collaborator to move from group to group and provide extra guidance where needed, paying extra attention to students who need additional learning support.


  • Ask students to share what they have written in their sensory details chart to come up with an anchor chart for the class. 
  • Ask students to share their experience from Chromebook research and using VR kits to gather details about a specific historical time period.
  • After the lesson, check and mark individual sensory details chart.

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