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Young Geographers Project Little Common Primary School

Habitats in the School Environment

Age Group: Key stage 1, year 2

Selection of Content: This was an aspect of geography which most fitted in with the existing scheme of work for this half term. Therefore it was easy to accommodate the project. I was keen to further investigate the issue of recording in the field with key stage 1 children. The habitats topic covers many of the National Curriculum objectives and makes some cross curricular links with Literacy and Science.

Teaching and learning activities

The project started with a brief introduction to the concept of habitats, and some prior learning about British wildlife.

We then took a walk around the school environment identifying habitats, recording in a variety of ways – photographs, sketching, video clips, using habitat fans.

Follow-up work continued in the classroom with a range of multi-sensory activities to provide all learners with the opportunity to record their work; including annotating maps both on paper and on the computer, making a habitats glossary, writing a commentary for a video clip of the habitats found in the school grounds and using puppets to develop talk. You can see the results of these activities in the presentation below.

Evaluation

What worked well
Lots of pre-visit input was essential in order to maximise the learning opportunities. I spent a lot of time preparing resources and taking photographs of the school environment. All the resources we used I prepared myself as they were very site-specific. Otherwise the children would not have got as much out of the walk as they did.

The children loved going outside – somehow going outside always brings things to life in such a way that can never be captured in the classroom. The weather was good which enabled us to spend time sketching and photographing what we saw. The impact on writing and other pieces of work was greatly enhanced by the motivation of this work being seen by a wide audience.

The children enjoyed using the camera although this was clearly a new experience for many of them. This is something which I would like to develop further to ensure that next time we go out, all the children are able to take photographs and video clips.

The variety of follow-up work was good as it addressed the different learning styles and needs of the children. We used puppets for speaking and listening, writing, using ICT to create annotated maps, drew maps and created glossaries.

My class turned out to be surprisingly good at working together in groups. They were able to share their ideas and knowledge and work co-operatively when writing around the pictures in our preliminary activity.

The children engaged fully with the purpose for the writing (presentation to another audience) and had a sense of pride in what they were producing.

The trip outside was a huge motivation; all children were in school for the day of the visit! The quality of work was good with all children taking an active part. There was a genuine excitement to be part of a special project.

Use of new language – the children enjoyed learning new, topic specific words/phrases. The project provided a good range of speaking and listening opportunities. The children learnt that it is important to value opinions and other people’s point of view. Answering the question ‘why?’ became an important part of the project which could be developed further.

The children were very keen to communicate new learning to others – often voluntarily. They were enthusiastic about what they were learning and many went home and did further research which they enjoyed sharing with us back in school.

Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of the topic to manage was maintaining a focus due to over-enthusiasm, rather than lack of enthusiasm or a lack of direction.

What I would think about changing

This project could so easily be the geography work for a whole half term. There were a lot of ideas to explore and a lot of themes and skills which could/should have been developed much further. There are a lot of activities still to be done too.

Not all the children were happy about only doing some of the activities. Many of them felt they wanted to do everything. If this project was done over a longer period of time then this would have been possible.

The children should have had a numbered map to annotate as they went round the grounds. This would have made it much easier for them to know where they were, and to accurately annotate the map. Many of the children were unable to annotate the map back in the classroom, and many were unsure as to what to write. I suspect this was due to a lack of experience of this type of activity, rather than a lack of knowledge, and that next time they would be more confident.

Some aspects of the project remained undeveloped owing to a lack of time and/or resources.

The activity in which the children wrote underneath the pictures they had taken was too unstructured for many of the children. A lot of them didn’t know what to write, and some children appeared to be unfamiliar with the location of the photograph.

Further Development

Ways to take this project further:

  • Make models of different wildlife habitats and display them.
  • Design a wildlife friendly habitat taking into account the needs of the animals in the school environment. This should include providing a habitat for all animals we know are our school grounds.
  • Consider doing the same walk at a different time of the year. Make visual/audio record of what we see. Make comparisons with the first walk.
  • The project could be extended to form a week of wildlife watching and recording the wildlife seen in the school grounds. Repeated at intervals throughout the year this would provide adequate data to look at variations and trends.
  • Look at the distribution of the same animals throughout the world – thus giving an opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of some of Britain’s wildlife. Look at the decline in the numbers of the same species in the local area and across Britain – this would provide a way in to introducing the issues surrounding conservation, loss of habitats and countryside management.

Web Links

Wild about Britain
Bird Guide from the RSPB
Owl facts

Background Information about the school

We are a three form entry school on the edge of Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex. We have a mixed catchment area. Our school operates a walking bus and is an actively healthy school. Each year group works as a team with the three classes following the same curriculum. Our grounds consist of a playground and small field. Established trees and hedges surround the school and we have our own outdoor swimming pool.

www.littlecommon.e-sussex.sch.uk

This material was contributed by Sarah Haynes

(Added 25.03.09)

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