Our weekly message (Friday 26 April 2024)

Friday 26 April 2024

This week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and Topic…

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term we’re geographers. The topic is Explorers.

In this geography-driven topic, we’re comparing a place in the United Kingdom with a place in another country. Year 1,2 children are heading to Kenya in Africa, whilst Year 3,4 children are having a mini-break in Venice. Finally, Year 5,6 children are trekking through the Amazon Rainforest in South America.

Across the year groups, children will develop their understanding of some key geographical concepts:

Check out our Topic Curriculum Guide for more information about key concepts (page 15) and age-related expectations and vocabulary (page 18 and 19).

Year 1,2

Children have begun the topic by learning about the different continents and oceans in the world. They’ll learn about the equator and how it splits the Earth into two hemispheres. They’ll then focus on a specific continent, Africa, and a specific country within that continent, Kenya. They’ll then compare a city in Kenya, Nairobi, to Leeds with a focus on the physical and human geography of these two places. They’ll then take a visit into the countryside and compare features of the Yorkshire Dales with a National Park just outside Nairobi.

Year 3,4

Children will develop learning about the equator and hemispheres by learning about the tropics and climate zones. A focus on European and world cities and countries will follow and will link to climate zone learning. They’ll then focus in on Venice in Italy and its physical and human geography which they’ll compare with York. They’ll learn about the positives and negatives that tourism brings, putting themselves in the shoes of both tourists visiting the places and locals who live there. Finally, they’ll learn about the problems posed by flooding in both localities and the solutions introduced to limit the consequences of flooding.

Year 5,6

Children will learn about the different types of biomes found on Earth and how these are linked to climate. They’ll then focus on the biomes found in Brazil and the UK. They’ll then focus on Brazil more generally, building their understanding of it as a place. Next, they’ll focus on the Amazon Rainforest and its importance to Brazil in terms of the economy as well as its importance ecologically. They’ll learn about the threats to the rainforest and the impact that deforestation is having. Finally, children will learn about what Brazil needs to do to slow deforestation and what we can do to slow deforestation.

How can you help?

Regardless of the year group your child is in, Google Earth is a brilliant tool to help develop children’s understanding of space, place, scale and interdependence. Zoom right in on your home and then zoom out to reveal the area of Leeds that you live in. Zoom further out to see what city you live in. Zoom further for the county. A little further and you might start to spot some national parks. Further still and you can see the country that we live in. Keep zooming and you’ll see the continent we live in (though this isn’t labelled). Before you know it, you’re floating in space and circling the Earth!

Google Maps is another great tool for comparing places. Try the street view option and you can walk along a street in Nairobi and a street in London. Take a drive through the lush Yorkshire Dales and compare this to the Kenyan countryside. You could wander down the Shambles in York and compare this to the streets in Venice. You can also compare images of the same street from different points in time.

Quizzing your children about some locational knowledge will help them to remember important information. I’ve listed some examples below. Use the age-related expectations to find the right pitch for your child.

If you can, go to the library and get some geography-related books, especially an atlas. You could compare maps of the same place to see what type of information they show. For example, you find lots of maps of the United Kingdom. One might show the countries and capital cities. Another might show the mountains, rivers and national parks. Another might give information about the climate.

For children in Key Stage 2, there are lots of different games and activities on Ordnance Survey Mapzone. I especially like the jigsaws in the Map Puzzles section of the Games.

Also for KS2 children, there’s a lot of information and some tasks and quizzes on BBC Bitesize.