Our World Our Water Video and Teacher's Guide By Ken Webster WWF-UK Pounds 19.95
Follow the River Resource Pack By Howard Lisle BBC Pounds 11.99
Maps and the Landscape By John Greenlees Hodder Stoughton Pounds 6.99
Aerial Photographs By Philip Almond
Environmental Change By John Corn
Folens Photopacks Pounds 12.99 each
Into Israel By Norma Massel AJE Publications, 44a Albert Road, London NW4 2SJ. Pounds 6.95
Ken Webster is a clear thinking and prolific writer with the ability to find excitement in his subject. Geography always looks new under his microscope. Our World Our Water is a good example. Targeting key stages 2 and 3, it presents activities in science, English and geography around the theme of water. The video comprises a range of clips - documentary, animations, simple visual stimuli - as starting points for discussion and activity. This is not a video you can turn on and ignore. As the notes say: "CAUTION! This video resource is for active classrooms." The Teacher's Guide provides all you need to make yours an active classroom, not only in top primary but well into Years 7, 8 and 9.
Howard Lisle's resource pack for the BBC's Follow the River programmes in the Landmarks series is full of life - as any river work is bound to be. The pack comprises teacher's notes, worksheets, photocards and a poster. Although linked to the broadcasts it is a stand-alone resource, ideal for key stage 2. The colour photographs in particular are excellent: it's good to have clear images that can be handled in the class or in the field, not on a screen.
John Greenlees' Maps and the Landscape is classic fare for key stages 2 and 3, looking at a range of map skills related to UK landscapes, both physical and human. The book is simple, clear and contains a wide range of excellent exercises. It covers a variety of map types which is helpful, with road maps, town maps and sketchmaps taking their place alongside those from the Ordnance Survey.
The pupil is encouraged to see maps as tools, not objects that exist in a vacuum. This approach should always be central to map work. The only cautionary note concerns the level, which is demanding for top primary pupils, especially with non-specialist teachers.
Aerial photography is central to geography and a brilliant way of drawing students into a wider interest and understanding of the world around them. Aerial Photographs is one of a pair of Photopacks from Folens, comprising small teaching booklets accompanying A4 colour photographs and larger colour posters. The teacher input is the key issue. The photographs are clear, the teaching notes are helpful but it really is up to the individual to use the resources profitably. If the pack could be used in association with aerial photography of your own school or neighbourhood it would yield excellent results. The environmental photographs (not all aerial) present a mix of chilling and challenging images.
The publishers of Into Israel for key stage 2 are the Agency for Jewish Education, which tells us a lot about the book. It paints a clear picture of the natural and human resources of the country and tries to take the reader close to the people. For a country that is virtually defined by its politics, and has been redefined by its recent struggles to exist within the turbulence of the Middle East, this book is remarkably free of any mention of Palestine, the military and the peace process. Of course it's sometimes helpful to peer through the smokescreen that conflict creates, but don't the causes of the smoke warrant some discussion?