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Themed Walks

A themed walk might help your students explore an urban environment with a specific focus, such as looking for evidence of industrial heritage, play spaces and signs that say ‘no’.

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Some potential themes might include:

  • re-development: Look out for places where new buildings and spaces are in construction
  • parks and other green spaces: Where in the city are there the most, and where are there least?
  • advertisements such as billboards, on buses etc.: How much advertising are we exposed to during the walk?
  • CCTV cameras: How many can you spot, which parts of the city have the most?
  • everyday activities: Who’s shopping and what are they buying? Who looks like they are working? Who’s eating?
  • signs, such as those that forbid access for example, or signs that give orders.


You could also try some of these activities:

  • You have just arrived here from outer space and you have no idea where you are. What visual, non-verbal clues would tell you: Which country are you in? Which town you are in?
  • Close your eyes and listen to the noises in the environment. Which is most dominant, the one you hear before all others? What do you hear next? What does this tell you about this environment? You could record the noises on your mobile phone.
  • Imagine you are homeless. Identify a suitable place in the environment where you will sleep tonight. Why did you choose that place?
  • Design a school brochure for Y6s. Using a map of the school grounds and a digital camera, walk around the grounds and take photos. Students could design a walk for the new Y6s on their induction day. Also perhaps take some photos that would not be included and suggest how these areas need improving.
  • Emotional mapping. Use map work to develop and explore students’ personal perceptions of the school grounds, annotating or colouring maps of the grounds with pleasant and unpleasant areas. Highlight favourite areas and areas associated with different feelings or activities. The students could identify where individuals feel safe in the grounds. What can be done to alter intimidating areas? They could also conduct a questionnaire survey amongst other pupils and staff to gauge individuals’ perceptions of the grounds and how they might be improved.
  • Create a teenage guide book to their local town using lots of images. They could incorporate OS maps by giving grid references.
  • Students could create a promotional video of their local area using video and images. The finished work could be offered to local TV news programme or paper or to a tourist board!
  • Plan a walking tour of the local area for geography teachers and fellow students. The tour could have a set of criteria which has to be included and met, for example: it must include safe and accessible places to visit. The outcome might be a map with annotations of the tour, points of interest and photo points (places where students can take photos when they take the tour, and there could be follow up work associated with it). Teachers and students go on the winning tour and the creator wins a prize.
  • In the school grounds turn the kids into human ‘sat navs’. Mock up a sat nav device, record the directions and someone else has to follow the instructions from one part of the school campus to another – do they get lost?
  • Get students to plan their own field visit to a place. Ask students what data they might collect and why (primary and secondary). What geographical questions they might answer or be asked to do? How would they present the information? What risk assessment would they need to conduct?

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