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Where and what on earth is that?

Created by Charlotte in Age: At School, Education



It’s a shame that one of the most interesting subjects that is taught in school gets such a bad press. What am I talking about? Geography, that’s what.

 

It’s a subject that spans and links the arts and the sciences and one in which we grandparents can have a huge input.

 

That’s because geography is the study of people and the places in which they live. As soon as your little ones start school they will begin to to learn about familiar places – their school, the roads and streets which surround it, important buildings such as the Town Hall, the church, the Post Office, the local shops, roads and railways and so on. This is is called the built environment. In contrast, the natural environment is the rivers and streams, hills and valleys and the soils and rocks on which we live – and the climate we love to grumble about. And one very important aspect of this is the way the natural environment and the climate influences and determines the built environment.

 

As children move through the school their study of both these aspects of geography becomes deeper and more detailed; for example they will make a study of rivers and how they start live as lively rushing babies and by the time they reach the sea they will have become wide, slow and stately grannies! They will, in addition to studying their own locality, study a contrasting one. And if they are lucky, this will be the place where they stay on School Journey. They will also study a developing country and begin to learn about the way of life for people in very different circumstances to their own.

 

I would like to make a few suggestions about helping your grandchildren in this fascinating subject and also have excellent fun together.

 

  • The first thing to do is to get out there! Geography isn’t done indoors. On a walk in the town or countryside make a game of spotting as many examples of a building or feature as you can. Examples could be pillar boxes, churches or places of worship, road signs, footpaths, bus stops, bakers’ shops, schools …. The list is endless; then ask lots of questions about the feature you have chosen. Why is it in this place and not somewhere else? How is it used? What condition is it in? What materials have been used to built it? How old is it? Do you like it? Has it changed since it was first built? How might you be able to find out?

weathermap

  • Or, you could take a trip on a bus and talk about where it starts and finishes, who travels on it, how frequent it is, what other bus routes are there? Do the local people feel that there should be more? Or, should there be different routes?

 

  • If you live in the country you could follow a footpath and talk about how it winds its way through the woods and fields and where it leads from and to.

 

  • Making a plan or map of the locality is a fascinating activity. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can draw the main roads and paths on a big sheet of paper and then stick drawings or photographs of places and buildings that you have walked to onto it.

 

  • A visit to a market is always huge fun. You can identify all the produce and talk about where it comes from and possible ways of using it.

 

  • And a final suggestion comes back to our national obsession. The weather. It’s a lovely project to make a little weather station. You can buy or make a rain gauge and an anemometer (device which tells you the wind speed and direction) and make a chart to record the type of weather each day, how much rain has fallen and how hard the wind was blowing. Then you can compare your results with a good site such as the BBC weather.

 

I’ve only touched the surface of this wonderful subject, but I hope you’ll be enthused by some of these suggestions and have excellent times with your little ones.

 

by Jane Lawson

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