Geography - Give cliches the slip

What the lesson is about

Is it possible to teach environmental issues in primary geography without it ending in children making "Save our Planet" or "Stop dropping litter" posters? Of course it is, but we've all done it at some time, writes Chris Fenton.

In my Year 5 (P5) classes, I spent two afternoons linking citizenship (preparing to play an active role as citizens) and geography (knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development). I taught a lesson about humans having positive and negative impacts on their environment.

The children entered their classroom after playtime to find it strewn with litter: banana skins, leaves, drink cans, newspapers, fast-food wrappers and so on. They believed me when I said it had blown in from the street.

After the initial drama, the children began the big clean-up. They then discussed their feelings about the rubbish. Then we went on a trip around the school and completed a survey of man-made litter found on the street. We also looked out for public bins, photographing our evidence.

The next session involved building charts of the types of litter discovered. This led to an investigation into where it may have come from. Children worked out which shops were the most likely culprits, and used the evidence to write emails to our councillor and local paper.

Through two afternoons, we linked geography and citizenship to science, English and maths. Children completed fieldwork and became aware of the impact humans can have on their environment.

Where to find it

Try tinkerkat's litter assembly. With older pupils, why not try some on- site fieldwork to investigate the environmental quality of the school grounds? Lrabbetts has shared material to get you started.

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