What it's all about
How do we make geography exciting? Well, for the learning to be memorable, children need to be engaged and engulfed in it. It needs to be experienced, writes Chris Fenton.
Our geographical study of Britain started with children entering the classroom to find the ingredients for making a simple cake. We were going to study the geographical features of Great Britain, but before any investigations took place, the class set to work cracking eggs, measuring out ingredients and sifting, following instructions written as part of the morning's literacy lesson.
We made 10 sponge cakes, each roughly A4-sized. While they were baking, the children were split into five groups and given 10 minutes each to write a 10-question quiz on key features of Britain (famous landmarks, cities, rivers and so on), using the internet and atlases. The pupils then answered each other's questions, using buzzers they made in science the previous term.
As the smell of freshly baked cakes wafted into the room, the children were intrigued by what the relationship between baking and the geography of Great Britain would be. My teaching assistant put the cakes together and carved the result into the shape of the UK. I explained that we would be building the mountains, rivers, motorways and so on out of marzipan.
Taking it further
Over the next few days, we decided which geographical features to include on our cake. We wrote about the chosen features, made them and attached them. At the end of the week, we had an edible model of the UK. The children have been engrossed in their learning. Their pride in the work was obvious and, when the cake was eaten, the learning was truly digested.