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Let's build a lighthouse

Beccy Webber describes how a book took her KS1 pupils to the beach and much more.

Lighthouses and their purpose have always captured the imagination of children and my inner-city flock are no different.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch by Ronda and David Arrmitage is the basis of one of our most successful themes in key stage 1. This tale of cheeky seagulls is full of humour and rich in language. Our design and technology is taught, alongside the electricity objectives for science, through the building of working lighthouses.

I spend the autumn term half-buried under an ever-increasing pile of models! We create healthy lunches for Mr Grinling, the star of the story, and in ICT we create a map of the story and send the Roamer off on a journey across the bay. In the first week on the theme, we pack up our buckets and spades and head for the beach.

In geography the children need to compare different localities and express their own views about places. Take 60 inner-city children to the beach and try to stop them expressing their own views about the place. This is a move away from the idea of trips as a treat at the end of term. This trip is intended to give a context for their learning. The opportunities for planned kinaesthetic learning support the language development of all the children.

We also visit the Seaquarium. This is a great opportunity for them to interact with an expert and to see me as a fellow learner.

Beccy Webber is manager of KS 1 at Kingsholm CofE primary, Gloucester

* Reprinted from 'Waving, not Drowning: Taking the Plunge on Curriculum Change' (Harcourt)

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