26th January 2007 at 00:00
Ages 11 to 14

Help pupils master basic skills by making your local Ordnance Survey map come to life in the classroom. All you need is the map, a bit of muscle for moving furniture, chalk, shoe boxes, toy cars and action men.

First, move the tables to make a frame around the outside of the room. Then draw the OS map in chalk on the classroom floor, to a larger scale but including the grid lines and main symbols. Make buildings and key places out of shoe boxes and raid a toy box for cars and figures to use on the roads and parks. It takes a little preparation but it's worth the effort.

Then invite your pupils into the room (I did this with a small but challenging group of Year 7s) and surprise them by asking them to stand on their table. Looking down on the map, they begin to spot things they recognise - their school, the local park, the railway station.

Then ask one pupil to jump into the map. The others can then guide him or her on a route using only the compass points or grid references for directions. Next, they can construct routes to school avoiding busy or unlit roads and discuss the safest routes.

Nicky Reckless is secondary projects leader of the Geographical Association's action plan for geography

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