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Eco-island: Sludge River activity 3

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Represent a polluted river in the form of a shape poem using imagery and a variety of descriptive language.

Key Stage 1

Curriculum links: Geog 5a-b. Sc2 5c. En3 1a, d-e.

What to do: Explain how pollution and rubbish dumped into our rivers turns into a dirty sludge that can stop the water from flowing and destroy the river and its wildlife. Make some samples of what this sludge might look like. You can use pulp made from torn up newspaper and water, wallpaper paste, jelly, rice pudding, the flesh from the inside of a pumpkin, cold over-cooked spaghetti – anything that would feel slimy! Let the children mix some of these things up with their hands so that they can feel just how slippery and slimy they are. Then add a few drops of green food colouring to make them look more realistic and put some in a jar as a sample of river sludge.

Use the ‘slime’ experience to inspire the children to write some shape poems in the form of a winding river that describes what the sludge is like. Encourage the use of descriptive words such as slick, oozing, sticky, clotting, cloying, squishy, gooey, sloppy, mushy and marshy. This is a great activity for introducing alliteration!

Key Stage 2

Curriculum links: Geog 4a-b, 5a-b. Sc2 5a. En3 1a-e, 2a-c, 9a.

What to do: Explain how pollution and rubbish dumped into our rivers turns into a dirty sludge that can stop the water from flowing freely. When this happens the water becomes stagnant and creatures and plants then die. If you have a river, stream, pond or lake near your school, plan a visit to it and see if you can spot any signs of pollution. Take nets and fish out any branches or rubbish that might be causing a blockage.

Back in the classroom, make some samples of what polluted river sludge might be like. You can use pulp made from torn up newspaper and water, wallpaper paste, jelly, rice pudding, the flesh from the inside of a pumpkin, cold over-cooked spaghetti – anything that would feel slimy! Let the children mix some of these things up with their hands so that they can feel just how slippery and slimy they are. Then perhaps they could add a few drops of green food colouring to make them look more realistic and put some in a jar as a sample of river sludge.

Use the ‘slime’ experience to inspire the children to write some shape poems in the form of a winding river that describe what the sludge is like. This is a great activity for introducing alliteration. You can move on from this to think about words that could describe a river that is free of pollution and sludge to create a very different sort of shape poem!

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