Atlas clues take pupils on adventures all over the world without ever leaving the classroom. Ellen Clarkson maps out an exciting lesson
Turn your classroom into the location for a global scavenger hunt. The search for unusual items such as terracotta warriors, emu feathers and Egyptian burial jars is an ideal introduction to using an atlas and developing key stage 3 map skills.
Get pupils to travel across the globe seeking long lost treasure. Give them a task sheet containing questions to answer using information from an atlas.
The task should begin with basic questions to familiarise them with using a table of contents in an atlas. A simple starting question might be, "on what page would you find Europe?"
The hunt starts at a given city. From here they follow compass directions, distances and clues leading them in a hunt that takes them through the pages of their atlas.
Clues may be city features, historical facts, and pop culture references. Once the pupils identify the location, they must approach the scavenger leader with their answer. If the answer is correct, the leader will hand over a card with the given treasure printed on it.
The treasure should be representative of the location, for example, an emu feather from Australia.
As the task sheet develops, ask pupils to give more detail for each question. They may have to extend answers by giving the name of the country the city is in, plus longitude and latitude.
The winner is the pupil who answers all the questions and obtains the full set of treasure cards in the shortest time.
What sort of questions should I ask?
The type of questions depends on the skills you wish to develop. Some may use compass directions to guide pupils, such as: "To obtain the golden boomerang, you must cross Australia travelling east along the Tropic of Cancer. It is located at 133E longitude. What city is this?"
Others may use scale measurements such as: "Travelling approximately 650 miles west of Kiev you will reach a capital city also known as "the city of a thousand spires". What city is this?"
What can I do for higher ability pupils?
The scavenger hunt can be tailored specifically; travelling across different climatic zones and differing terrain. Get them to use the climatic information in an atlas to identify what clothes they need in different countries. So, when they've reached Manaus in Brazil and collected their treasure, get them to use the atlas and suggest two items of clothing they need.
Further questions could require them to think about crossing desert, rainforest and mountains. What would be a suitable mode of transport for crossing the Sahara? Encourage them to be imaginative. Why not a hovercraft, sherpa or even a hot air balloon?
Ellen Clarkson is a geography teacher at George Salter Collegiate Academy in West Bromwich.