Geography: My Dream Lesson - Lessons of island life

16th December 2011 at 00:00
Being deserted could teach Year 6 so much about ... everything

I've just finished William Golding's Lord of the Flies and it got me thinking: if health and safety were of no concern, and parents wouldn't mind, what better way of teaching about communal geography than by dropping my Year 6 class on a desert island with a list of activities for a couple of weeks?

Just imagine it: they would see the water cycle in action, from the mountain in the middle to the stream running down it and back to the sea. They could consider the elements all living things need to survive - shelter, food, water, heat - and then search the environment to find them.

They could ascertain where in the world they were by map-reading and considering the climate they were working in. They could further their map-reading skills by creating a scale model of the island, plotting the various landmarks, sending out parties of children to complete fieldwork exercises, sketching what they saw and reporting back to the rest of the class.

And just think about the weather patterns they would encounter! They could link materials and their properties to the geographical study of weather patterns to find the perfect vessel for collecting rainwater.

To keep a running record of events, the children could describe their environments in journals using selected geographical terms. They could compare their island to home, detailing the things they miss and the things they don't.

As time went by they could give their island a name, develop their own language and elect a leader. In time, jobs would be assigned and a hierarchy would emerge. Those who disagreed with the leader's decisions would be banished, and then opposing parties would emerge with different belief systems that would be defended at all costs. They would wear war paint and defend their different parts of the island savagely.

Hmmm, perhaps I had better go, too ...

Chris Fenton is an associate headteacher and commissioning editor at Curriculum Press.

What else?

You can't leave Year 6 on a desert island for two weeks, but try Teachers TV's "On Location" resources for lesson ideas on orienteering and map skills.

Find all links and resources at

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