Geography - World on your doorstep

What's it about?

Geography offers the chance for teachers to explore the wider world, and it's tempting to plunge straight into the exotic: volcanic landscapes, arid deserts or the teeming streets of Rio de Janeiro. But it's important not to neglect the geographies that pupils will perhaps be most familiar with - their local areas, writes Alan Parkinson.

The first step

Jeff Stanfield, geography adviser for Hampshire, is passionate about the importance of harnessing the experiences pupils have before they step foot in a school. "It is important that children know the geography of `their' place and have a real feel for, attachment to and involvement in it."

Ideas aplenty

I have recently worked for National Geographic Education, with colleague Daniel Raven Ellison, to provide the following ideas for exploring local environment.

Can you find something you've never noticed before about your own street?

Photograph (using mobile phones) the things that you think provide your community with its identity.

It is said the suburbs are "areas where they chop down the trees, then name streets after them". Can you find the hidden trees in your neighbourhood in street names?

As Michael Palin says on the homepage of the new Discovering Britain website: "All too often we forget that travel doesn't have to involve trains and boats and planes . some of the world's most varied, spectacular and accessible landscape is only a strong pair of boots away."

Anything else?

Visit, the TES forums and TES Resources, for a local area study resource collection, perfect for use with primary pupils.

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