Tried and Tested - Look and learn

29th May 2009 at 01:00

Subject: History

Lesson: Preparing the way

Ages: 11-12

Supplied by Bill Dewberry, head of faculty for inclusion, Chingford Foundation School, London

1. What is it?

A lesson in observation in preparation for studying castles and the Middle Ages. It makes use of the senses to explore and investigate.

2. Who is it aimed at?

All budding historians, all Year 7.

3. What happens in the lesson?

In a one-hour lesson, plan a circular walk of the streets around your school. Pay attention to your senses. What do pupils see, hear, taste, smell and feel? As you travel, look at houses, roads, gardens and pavements. Get pupils to discuss the name, colour, position and compare, say, different houses. Ask questions so that they query what they observe. Your job is to listen. They should photograph, sketch and tape. But nothing else.

4. What do you want the lesson to achieve?

Rather than learning by rote from worksheets, this lesson gets pupils to notice what surrounds them at different levels: head up, head forward, head down. It encourages them to use their senses and memory, which will help when they come to think about eras of history.

5. How do you know it has been successful?

They use descriptive language, new vocabulary and produce inquiring dialogue. They observe detail. They remember.

6. Why would you recommend this to other teachers?

We are outside the classroom and they are in their own neighbourhood. It helps the group to work on further projects with each other. It introduces alternative recording methods. It's a skills lesson that gives teacher and pupil feedback and rewards. The skills are cross curricular.

7. Give us three top tips

- Inform parents early and get permission for a couple of local visits. You could do this at the start of the year or even when they attend the pre-school parents' evening. This gives your subject a high profile.

- Ask the Senco or inclusion faculty for help with teaching assistants.

- Do the trip early in Year 7 and get it in the school diary as an event.

8. Useful resources

- The CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) website -

- Engaging Places -

- Ordnance Survey for maps and teaching resources -

- Peakland Heritage's website has useful drop-down menus, especially on houses. It's also useful for vocabularly and examples of comparison to your local area - unless you live in the peaks. Visit


Title: Writing using the senses

Ages: 7-11

Subject: English

What is it? A PowerPoint resource, outlining a "feely bag" task, where pupils are encouraged to feel sweets within a drawstring bag. Pupils are asked to consider words to do with touch, smell, taste, sight and sounds encouraging exploration of vocabulary associated with the senses. Each time a sense is explored pupils are asked to write a sensory paragraph.

Find it:



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