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Encourage your class to think about the environment that they live in using these art inspired activities

Using the local area as a focus for geographical investigation is a useful way of bringing environmental issues into the classroom – by engaging children with issues that affect them directly. Indeed, children are more likely to form opinions about things that are familiar to them, and as a teacher you will want to take advantage of opportunities to help them make connections between local, national and global issues. The activities on these pages focus on the school and its surroundings. They will encourage children to identify, record and discuss environmental problems, and to collate and present information in creative ways.

Getting started

  • Explain to the children that you are interested in hearing their opinions about the school and its surroundings. Begin by compiling two lists: one of ‘likes’, the other ‘dislikes’. Initial responses may be fairly generalised, so encourage the children to be specific. One way to do this is to split the class into three groups and assign each group a different area of the school to investigate. A teaching assistant could take one group out into the playground or other outside area, a second group could focus on what they like and dislike about the classroom, while a third group could reflect on their journeys to school and any problems that they encounter on the way.
  • Encourage the class to gather and record information in different ways. The most appropriate methods will depend on the location of your school and the resources available to you. If, for example, traffic noise is a key factor, then children could choose to record on tape the sounds from the street. If tall buildings overshadow the playground, they might prefer to make sketches or take photos using a digital camera to illustrate the problem. Other issues – the amount and range of litter in and around the playground, perhaps – could be documented by tables or graphs, while the smell of the fumes from the traffic or the chip shop across the road could inspire some creative poetry!
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