Prior knowledge – video clips were shown of the topic, then immersion days, either inviting speakers in or going on trips. This sparked children’s imagination and they wanted to know more. One teacher had eggs hidden in the classroom for the zoo topic and having different aspects of the topic displayed so that children could say what they wanted to explore was successful.
Breaking the topic down into different aspects meant the focus was more specific, helping children’s understanding.
“Following an immersion day of a farm visit, one child asked;
‘Could we write a letter to the farm people to say thank you for letting us come and see the animals?’ Another child then wanted to design a poster to advertise the farm so that others could go there and learn about the animals like we had.
With different activities laid out, children were asked to write their ideas for further activities on post it notes. Children felt valued and listened to.”
All teachers had created immersion days – looking at plants, pictures and books and going on school trips at the beginning of the topic rather than the end. This got the children talking and sharing ideas and coming up with good questions to pursue.
The visits made the children want to find out more and wanting to write, as well as wanting to work and research at home.
In one class children came up with ideas for each week saying what they wanted to learn about butterflies and trees. One child mentioned photosynthesis, so this was covered by the teacher!
“The Wednesday before half term we visited High Lodge Forest. After the visit we spent the day planning as a class. The children told me what they wanted to learn about (e.g. owls, butterflies and trees) and we looked at skills such as poetry. I also planned with my TA for her input. Each week we now have a topic/theme and we explore the children’s ideas.We set up role play on Friday in the tent and the children are so excited and can’t wait to get in there.
We always start a literacy unit with poetry, so we linked butterflies with that.
The trip before the topic began helped the children to come back excited and wanting to learn. The topic has included maths, literacy, geography and science.”