This half-term, your child is a geographer. This week’s message, from Mr Wilks, our Sphere Federation Topic Leader, helps you to support your child at home…
However, before we dive right in, here’s a reminder about topics and what they look like.
What do we mean by topics?
Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg History, Art, Geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
Although the learning in each topic is provided by the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in a history driven subject may be enriched by observational drawing of an artefact. In this example, the enricher is art.
For more information about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics, click here.
What is this half-term’s topic?
This half-term, we’re geographers. The topic is called Explorers.
We’re comparing a place in the United Kingdom with a place in another country. Y1,2 children are heading to Kenya in Africa; Y3,4 children are having a mini-break in Venice; and Y5,6 children are trekking through the Amazon Rainforest in South America.
Across the year groups, children are developing their understanding of some key geographical concepts:
- Space is a precise location, eg a country, city a latitude or longitude.
- Place = location + meaning. This includes the physical and human geography that make a place unique. Importantly, place is not rigid. It is changing and can be perceived in different ways.
- Scale is defined by the relative sizes of places. This could be differences in area, population, distances. Scale can also be defined by our view of the world. For example, we may consider an aspect of geography on a local, national and international scale.
- Interdependence is the idea that the world is connected and that countries or individuals do not act in isolation. Our actions here affect people in different countries around the world. For example, food, energy, holidays, climate.
Click this link to the Curriculum Statement for more information about key concepts (page 19) and age-related expectations and vocabulary (page 22 and 23).
Years 1 and 2
Children begin the topic by learning about the different continents and oceans in the world. They learn about the Equator and how it splits the Earth into two hemispheres. They then focus on a specific continent, Africa, and a specific country within that continent, Kenya. They compare Nairobi in Kenya to London, with a focus on the physical and human geography of these two places. Finally, they take a visit into the countryside and compare features of the Yorkshire Dales with a National Park just outside Nairobi.
Years 3 and 4
Children recap learning about the Equator and hemispheres. They then develop that by learning about the tropics and climate zones. A focus on European and world cities and countries follows; this links to climate zone learning. After that, they focus in on Venice in Italy and its physical and human geography which they compare with York. They’ll learn about the positives and benefits 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 they have introduced to limit the consequences of flooding.
Years 5 and 6
We begin the topic by learning about the different types of biomes found on Earth and how these are linked to climate. Children then focus on the biomes found in Brazil and the UK. They then focus on Brazil more generally, building their understanding of it as a place. Next, they learn about 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 consider what Brazil – and we – need to do to slow down 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. 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 (see the links to our Curriculum Statement, above) to find the right pitch for your child.
- Which continent do we live in?
- Which country do we live in?
- In which hemisphere is our country located?
- Which county do we live in?
- Which city do we live in?
- Which part of Leeds do we live in?
- Which four countries make up the United Kingdom?
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 older children, there are lots of different games and activities on the Ordnance Survey Mapzone website. I especially like the jigsaws in the Map Puzzles section of the Games!
Also for children in Key Stage 2, there are lots of information and some tasks and quizzes on the BBC Bitesize website.