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Having a field day

Get little ones out and about to turn the focus from formal to fun and just watch the results, says Elaine Spincer.Identifying busy and quiet places in your local area can be a good way to start with your key stage 1 pupils.

Begin by looking at a simple road map and some images of places in your neighbourhood. Ask the children to identify which places they think are busy and which are quiet. Try to get them as familiar as possible with the geographical vocabulary linked with those places, both physical and human.

Next, send the children out in groups (under close supervision of course) to different places in the locality that you have identified on the map. Try to select places that are as diverse as possible.

Each group should mark their route and final location on a copy of the map, then carry out some simple fieldwork activities at that place: traffic surveys (recorded as tally charts), annotated field sketches (using some of the vocabulary used back in the classroom) and digital photos (taken by the children) for example. These will all be used as evidence to sort the busy from the quiet places back in the classroom.

When they return, ask each group to present their traffic survey findings as a graph on the computer. Print these out, along with some of the photos the children took while they were out.

They can be used to produce a display, centred around the road map you showed everyone at the start of the lesson. Ask each group to identify the spot on the map where they worked, mark it out, and place their graphs, sketches and photos nearby. This can be the focus for lots of discussion and follow-up work about the locality. Which places are busy or quiet? How does our evidence show that? Why are they like that? What did you think about those places? How could they be improved?

Not only is this lesson a good starting point, but it meets many KS1 objectives including carrying out fieldwork and recording and presenting information.

Elaine Spincer is geography subject leader at Saltford Church of England School in Somerset.

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