This week’s message is from Mr Wilks, our leader for Science and Foundation Subjects…
We’ve just started a Geography topic in school.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). 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, your child is a geographer. The topic focusses on either environmental issues or natural disasters. Children in Years 1 and 2 will investigate their locality; Years 3 and 4 children will learn about volcanoes; and Y5,6 children are investigating climate change.
Across the year groups, children will develop their understanding of some key geographical concepts:
- location is a position (eg a country, a city), often described in a clear, precise way (ie using a latitude and longitude).
- place = location + meaning. It is constantly changing. A sense of place is also defined by how an individual perceives it (eg one person’s perception of Leeds or Wetherby as a place will be very different to another’s).
- scale is the relative sizes of different places. This could be differences in area, population, distance or the amount of natural resources. Scale is also defined by our view of the world. We may consider an aspect of geography on a local, national or international scale eg climate change.
- interdependence is the idea that the world is connected. No country or individual acts in isolation. Our actions here affect people in different countries around the world. This can be related to where we get our food and energy, where we go on holiday, or the effects of climate change across the world.
Check out our Curriculum Statement for more information about key concepts (page 17) and age-related expectations and vocabulary (page 22 and 23).
Years 1 and 2
Children begin the topic by learning about the four countries and capital cities that make up the United Kingdom. They then go on to learn about the difference between human and physical geography features. They’ll then investigate human and physical features in their locality. The key part of this topic is to investigate their locality and identify what they like about it and why. They will also investigate something that could be improved and how it could be improved. For example, they may notice that litter is an issue and raise awareness of this issue with their peers in school, local residents and even a local councillor.
Years 3 and 4
Children will be learning about volcanoes. They’ll begin by learning about what lies beneath the Earth’s surface. They’ll investigate plate tectonics and how these move and the different types of volcanoes formed by this movement. They’ll learn about how mountains are formed and name and locate the tallest peaks in the UK – did you know that these peaks are the remains of ancient volcanoes? Next, they’ll move onto some specific case studies: Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and Mount Vesuvius in Italy. They’ll investigate how volcanoes can be dangerous but also bring benefits to the people who live in their shadows.
Years 5 and 6
Children are learning about climate change. They’ll begin by learning about latitude and the link to world climate. They’ll then learn about what climate change is and what is causing it. They’ll then look at three case studies to learn more about the consequences of climate change across the world: melting sea ice in Greenland, rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands and coastal erosion in East Yorkshire. Finally, they’ll consider how climate change can be slowed and whose responsibility it is.
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 Wetherby 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.
- Year 1,2: Can you find your school? Your classroom? Your house? Your local park?
- Year 3,4: Can you locate the two volcanoes you’ll be studying? Can you zoom into the craters? What similarities and differences can you see?
- Year 5,6: Use this mapping tool to investigate how a place has changed over time. We’ll be focusing on coastal erosion but you could find where you live and compare today’s map with one from fifty or a hundred years ago. What has changed and what has stayed the same?
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.
- 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?
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 KS2 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. Click here for the website.
Also for KS2 children, there is lots of information and some tasks and quizzes on the BBC Bitesize website.