Packs lack hi-tech punch

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
Focus on Rainforests. WWF-UK, pound;10.99.

Storylink Kochi. The Geographical Association, various prices.

Greg Cracknell reviews resources that get to grips with the state of the world's rainforests and describe life today in urban India

Focus on Rainforests contains 12 glossy photo cards and a teacher's guide. There are links to English and science as well as geography, but I would like to see specific links to the national curriculum in these subjects and to the National Literacy Strategy.

The teacher's guide has plans for 18 activities, along with a range of photocopiable fact files and activity sheets. One of the activities alone is worth the price of the pack - a role- play about the clearing of rainforests.

While one class is unlikely to have the time to cover all the activities, there is enough for teachers to prepare their own medium-term plan based on some of the materials. I also like the way websites are an integral part of some activities.

While this pack is aimed at the seven-to-11 age range, many of the materials would not be accessible to the earlier years of key stage 2. The pack would be very good addition for KS3 geography departments. I'd also like to see some differentiation, but the pack does provide excellent value for money and is certainly worth buying for the photographs, background materials and some of the activities.

Kochi is a city in the south of India. Throughout the Geographical Association's Storylink Kochi pack (illustrated below), clear links are made to the QCA scheme on Chembakolli. However, being based on an urban area, it could be argued that Kochi is more representative of modern-day India than a village would be. The pack contains three story-books set in Kochi. These are at three levels, giving access to all KS2 children. The aim is to use fiction for stimulation for geographical work, building on the hugely successful Barnaby Bear stories used in KS1. These story-books can be bought separately to give class sets. There is also a teacher's guide and eight A3 storylink resource sheets. These contain a range of interesting colour photographs, along with appropriate text.

The teacher's guide contains excellent background material and a range of photocopiable worksheets, along with medium-term planning for three study units, each based on one of the story- books. These are excellent examples of medium-term planning using enquiry as a focus. Given that many teachers now use computers for medium-term planning, it would have been helpful to have the resource sheets available on CD. This would make them easily adaptable and allow them to differentiate the activity sheets.

Much of the potential usefulness of the photographs on the resource sheets is lost because they are so small.

This pack gives excellent material for a locality study in urban India, but a support CD-Rom would enable it to become an outstanding resource.

Greg Cracknell is senior lecturer in primary geography at University College, Northampton

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