Go walkabout

5th October 2007 at 01:00
Turn your class into masters of all they survey when they make a map of their local area, says Elizabeth Spincer

Challenge your children to survey their local area and produce their own version of an Ordnance Survey Explorer Map, using the appropriate symbols for each feature they identify.

Start with a discussion about what you might find on a map. Use the Ordnance Survey's MapZone website to teach about the different aspects of mapping and use their interactive games to develop children's knowledge and skills.

Look at examples of OS Explorer Maps from other areas. Discuss the features identified and how the symbols and the key work. Then talk about features of your area which could be recorded on such a map and why.

Take the class plus a blank local map and a digital camera on a walk around the area. Printing some large OS symbols for the features you're likely to see works well visually. The children can photograph themselves in front of the features with the appropriate symbols. Photos can then be used for follow-up work.

Ask the children to act as surveyors and add the symbols to their blank maps in the appropriate places.

When you get back to school, compare the children's maps with the published OS version this can throw up all sorts of discussion about why different maps can be useful for different people.

You could get the children to produce their own interactive mapping projects using software such as Local Studies from Soft Teach Educational (see the resources panel) and the photos they took on their field walk.

They can annotate "hotspots" using symbols and text, which is a great way of communicating what they have found out.

Another fun idea is to upload photos the children have taken to the Ordnance Survey's Geograph website, which is trying to collect geographical images from around the British Isles.

The lesson meets the curriculum objectives of teaching children how to use maps and diagrams and developing geographical language and inquiry skills

Elizabeth Spincer is a geography subject leader at Salford Church of England School in Bath

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