These two resource packs, linked to the BBC's Watch and Zig Zag series, add to the growing number of resources on contrasting localities. While their best application in schools is undoubtedly in conjunction with the TV programmes, they do have currency in their own right and it is in this respect that they are reviewed here.
Both follow the familiar format of poster, colour photo cards, copy masters and booklet and thus lend themselves to reasonably flexible application. Unfortunately the quality of the colour reproduction is not all it might be, apart from the map of Europe in the Homes set, and the pictures themselves lack suitable captions.
The more expensive pack provides a resource for key stage 1, and its equivalent in Northern Ireland and Scotland, in the context of contrasting localities where homes are inevitably found, in north west London, rural Hampshire, Finland and Greece. The title is therefore somewhat misleading and the accompanying map rather sparse.
The teacher's booklet is particularly useful, with carefully tailored guidance on the use of pictures and activity sheets, the latter closely linked through line drawings of illustrated homes. The activities themselves introduce appropriate environmental observations thus linking theme with place.
The contrasting locality in the UK is identified as Stanton in the Peak, Derbyshire, judged by the author to meet the curricular requirement for about 99 per cent of key stage 2 pupils, assuming of course that all the pupils in the school actually live in the village. It does clearly qualify for inclusion at key stage 1 if schools decide to restrict their locational choice to this country.
The photo cards in this pack are more varied than for Europe, containing some excellent oblique and vertical aerial shots as well as extracts from two scales of Ordnance Survey maps (freely photocopiable for LEA but not GM schools). The guidance given in the booklets is more closely linked to the TV series and is prescribed for five weeks of activities. Some of the pictures are for cutting into postcard size, and the absence of any indication of what they show suggests all is revealed in the video, available separately.
Constant references in the teacher's booklet to what OFSTED inspectors are looking for hints that the main purpose of the materials is to impress these uninvited visitors by the excellence of your school's geography. This is a pity, as teachers should use these pictures and ideas because of their value as geography and not simply to produce a favourable report. They will certainly add value to the TV series.