Over the next few weeks in Year 6 we are exploring our local environment, this is part of our environmental theme this term, which will also include looking at Global Citizenship and Fairtrade. But before we go global we have started local.
I am always looking for ways to see things differently and approach subjects more creatively, Twitter is a tool that I use to help and had seen lots of tweets and mentions of a book called Mission Explore published by the Geography Collective. I got in touch with David Rogers (who is a founder member of the Geography Collective) and asked if the missions could be used with Year 6 – the answer was yes and my book arrived in the post.
The book is a series of 102 missions designed to engage children with their local environment and to see the world slightly differently. The missions range from putting OAPs in the hood to conversing with a cow – all sound a little bizarre, but that is the point to do things differently. During the Easter Holidays I looked through and found several missions that the children could go on in the first few weeks.
I started by explaining to the children that we would be embarking on a series of missions this term and first read through the basic training and the 10 steps! The children were immediately engaged and laughing especially at the last step which said if it all goes wrong – don’t panic!! Armed with basic training, I told them that their mission would be delivered to them within the next 40 minutes and they had to be ready!
We were looking at our immediate environment – the school grounds and we started by going on a learning walk. The focus of the walk and the lesson was for the children to identify improvements that had been made and for them to think about one way that they would like to further improve our grounds. At the moment we are having a large improvement made within the construction of a Willow classroom.
However the children armed with a digital camera also found evidence of lot more improvements that had been made in the time that they had been in school.
We returned to our large playground and asked them what they had thought about the walk – interestingly a lot of them said that they had noticed parts of the grounds that they didn’t really notice before because it was just ‘there’! I told them that with this evidence they were ready for their first mission which was to ‘see things differently’. I explained that for this mission they needed a friend and asked them to decide on which view they were going to look at. I then demonstrated how I wanted them to sit as they could not see what their partner was drawing. The children all decided on their views and sat back to back sketching what they could see.
The children had about 15 minutes to complete this and then I called them all back and told them they had to keep their drawings secret as this was still part of the ‘mission’.
Before we returned to class, we tried another mission -’just for fun!’ ME0023 Go the mint stint – this time the children had to get themselves in 3, one observer, one to map and one to suck! Each group was given a mint and they had to walk round the area seeing how far they could get while sucking the mint! This was a great fun exercise with some biting the mint and others going round the playground a couple of times! It did make them realise how carefully you needed to draw maps in order for others to follow!
On returning to the class they sat with their partners and then on the count of three they opened their books and looked at each others pictures – the sound of chatter was immediate and there was a great buzz in the room! As an extension I asked them to find 3 things that were the same and 3 things that were different. Doing this mission really brought home to the children, that we all see places and people differently and how this affects what we might do in different places.
The other two classes in the Year group also completed the same mission! We have another two missions planned for this week – when we go out and about in out local area. As well as others across the term. This is a great little book that could be used across the junior range and even into the infant age range as I did one of the missions with my own two children. The children in my own class really enjoyed carrying out the mission and as a teacher I enjoyed the slightly ‘mad’ and different way of looking at the environment that included a large dose of fun!