Geography at Portway Infant School
The world is an ever changing and diverse place and at Portway we believe an effective Geography curriculum should foster in the children a curiosity and fascination about the world in which they live and its people. It should seek to embrace the inquisitive nature of each and every child and through a range of engaging and carefully considered topics, inspire them to explore the world around them and their place within it.
No matter what the topic, we believe that a child’s learning should allow them to develop key skills and knowledge that are both progressive and transferrable to other curriculum areas.
Our Geography curriculum is designed around our exciting year group topics and provides the children with the opportunity to develop a greater interest and understanding of diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, as well as an understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.
So what does Geography learning look like to our children?
Year R – (Understanding the World)
In Year R our children begin the Autumn term by looking at People, Culture and Communities and explore through small world play, a range of different environments including a house, farm and an airport. During this learning they will be encouraged to match their language and role play appropriately to the different environments and collect appropriate resources to match.
The children will also explore some similarities and differences between their own communities and cultures and others around the world through our ongoing topic ‘Far Away Friday’. Many of the countries we focus on have been chosen to provide the children with cross curricular links to other learning. Spain links with the artist Pablo Picasso who is a focus for the children during art lessons in the Autumn term is a good example. Some ‘Far Away Friday’ countries are chosen to reflect the country a military parent is posted to or a country where a child’s parents were born and perhaps spent their childhood.
As the school year progresses the children will have the opportunity to explore their school environment learning about the human and physical geography around them and using this new learning to create maps and retell stories such as ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ through which they will also develop an understanding of some key geographical vocabulary.
As the children begin to build their understanding of the human and physical geography around them they will develop their map skills further by using a range of different maps to identify some of the features they have studied.
In Year 1 our geography learning continues to build on the skills the children have begun to develop during their time in Year R. We revisit maps during our Pirate topic and use them to find hidden treasure. We begin to learn about some of the features of maps, before creating our own with a key to accompany it.
We also share a cross curricular link with Computing as the children create algorithms using directions and build on their key geographical vocabulary by using words such as north, south, east and west to guide a Bee-bot to a specific location on a map.
There is also chance for the children to begin to look at warm and cold places in our school environment, before expanding their thinking to the wider world. We look at the equator and its effects on the climate of countries closer to and further away from it. This discussion around climates links nicely with our science curriculum as the children have the opportunity to complete a longitudinal study in which they record what they notice about our own climate in the UK across the 4 seasons.
The children will begin to research the UK in greater depth, often inspired by key points throughout the year and important dates, i.e. St David's Day, or when a particular country is in focus and ties in with one of their curriculum topics, i.e. Northern Ireland or their learning about the Titanic. The children will learn about each of the 4 countries that are within the United Kingdom and their key characteristics, allowing further opportunities to build upon their existing knowledge of the country they live in and it's place in the world.
Towards the end of our children’s Year 1 journey they have the opportunity to study some ‘Deadly 60’ creatures and the habitats in which they live. They are encouraged to look closely at the climate and physical features of each habitat before discussing what similarities and differences they can spot when compared to our own climate. This topic is revisited in Year 2 with different creatures and habitats.
The Summer term also provides the children with further opportunity to apply their developing geography skills and knowledge using a range of resources such as maps, globes, atlases and Google Earth to begin to recognise where some of these habitats and countries are and how their climates are affected by their global position.
In Year 2 the children continue to build on their understanding of the world as they apply their Year 1 Deadly 60 learning to use a range of resources to map the different areas of the world in which you might find crocodiles. This is the introduction to learning in more detail, about the 7 continents and 5 oceans and how the climates of each differ due to their proximity to the equator.
As the children progress through the autumn term they look further at hot and cold climates and apply this knowledge to a study of Antarctica and its differences to other climates around the world including our own. This topic shares exciting links to History and Science as the children learn about the explorer R.F Scott and his expeditions to Antarctica and about the interesting life cycles of the penguins who live there.
The children also revisit maps in Year 2 and develop their understanding of them further by drawing their own with a key and the addition of compass points. They are then encouraged to develop their geographical vocabulary by describing features and routes on maps they study.
There are further cross curricular links within the Year 2 curriculum as the children are given the opportunity to learn how to use a grid reference to find specific items during their Maths learning and are then able to transfer this skill into a geography context to find specific places on a map during their various topics.
Further opportunity to study the physical and human features of our country and how they are often found side by side, is offered during the children’s study of coasts. This is a topic enriched by the sharing of the story ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’.