Weather World and Europe Photopack and Teachers' Guide
Both by Sandy Smith Pictorial Charts Educational Trust (PCET) pound;19.99 each (+VAT) www.pcet.co.uk
Basic Background Knowledge: KS2 Geography By Andy Seed Badger Publishing, pound;19.50 www.badger-publishing.co.uk
The two PCET photopacks, aimed at key stages 2-3, form an addition to the packs on Rivers, Mountains and Coastlines published by PCET last year. Each pack consists of 20 A4 laminated photographs and a 48-page activity book.
The titles of the packs will have immediate appeal for any school following the QCA geography schemes of work. The packs will also be relevant for schools wishing to design their own geography programme. The links with science are immediately apparent.
The quality and range of the photographs continue to set a high standard. Images of wind, rain and fog are notoriously hard to resource and these photographs would certainly be useful for direct teaching and display purposes. Some satellite images are also included.
It is a pity that the supporting material remains uninspiring, as in the other packs. The pupil exercises are repetitive and rely heavily on comprehension exercises and closed questions. There are also very few diagrams, despite the fact that these are often extremely useful in explaining weather processes. A topic on the weather offers rich opportunities for fieldwork and first-hand investigations, but these are generally overlooked. ICT is also neglected which, given the range of excellent websites now available, is a significant omission. Teachers who have enthusiasm and good subject knowledge will be able to make good use of these packs, but non-specialists need to be wary of the quality of the teachers' activities.
The Badger Publishing book contains 57 activity sheets and supporting notes based on the locational knowledge section of the geography national curriculum. The material includes blank maps, quizzes, research projects and revision pages. Inevitably some of the activities are repetitive, so the material on famous people, places, names and inventions around the world is particularly welcome. In order to complete the activities, pupils will need to refer to up to date atlases or maps of the UK, Europe and world. Locational knowledge remains a problem area, not only for pupils but also for teachers and geography graduates around the UK. The strength of this book is that it focuses directly on place knowledge.
Certainly any pupil who completes these activities is likely to develop a good knowledge of places. The challenge, which is not fully addressed here, is for teachers to find ways of making this meaningful in the context of short and medium term lesson plans.
Stephen Scoffham is principal lecturer in the faculty of education at Canterbury Christ Church University College