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Going global

Encourage children to use their memory and imagination when learning about other continents. Jane Whittle explains how.


Teaching about foreign countries is a great way for children to develop their spatial awareness and learn to make sense of the world. This lesson can be used for Years 3 to 6.

You will need: a globe, A3 paper, different sized hoops, some cones and an outline map of the country you are studying, with a zoom-in on the location you're focusing on.

Firstly, write up your school's address, but in the wrong order, and ask the children to correct it. Ask how they knew what the correct order was.

This is an opportunity for them to think about scale.

Following this, show children a muddled-up address of a far away place, such as the village of Mapusa in Goa, India, and tell them that, by the end of the lesson, they will be able to put this in the correct order.

Using a world map or globe, show children the country that the distant place is in and discuss its shape, neighbouring countries and key geographical features. Is it an island? What is the capital city? Which hemisphere is it located in?

Then, put pupils in groups of three or four. Each group will need two hoops (one large, one middle-sized) and a cone. Ask the children to use the equipment to represent the key places being studied - the continent, country and town.

Some groups may line them up in size order, others may place one hoop inside the other to represent the compass positions. Then, group children into small teams and play "picture from memory".

Stand at the front of the room, with an A3 picture showing your distant location. Cover it up and invite each group to come forward, one by one, study the picture for 30 seconds, and then go back and draw what they have memorised. This should continue until most of the groups have finished their drawings.

Finally, revisit the muddled-up address of the distant location and, as a class, choose the correct order and explain your reasons.

This is also a helpful lesson for teachers, as they can find out about the many different ways children make sense of distant places.

Jane Whittle is geography co-ordinator at Edwalton Primary in Nottinghamshire.

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