We have been using the fantastic Wild Earth African Safari for a couple of weeks in Year 6. I have had this game at home for a while and both my children love it – Tim Rylands spoke about the use of it at Hand Held Learning Conference in October last year.
We used it in Year 6 – to link with our topic of going Global and to link in with work that we had been doing on the World cup. The idea was that we would use the game to do the following:
*extend writing across a range of genres
* develop understanding for a range of habitats and food chains
* look at issue of conservation
* develop our co-operation and team work skills.
We planned the work for two weeks as a trial to use further next year and also to ‘copy’ the ideas to Year 4 next year. We started off by using one of the free apptivities from Purple Mash we first planned a trip in South Africa – and spoke about the popularity of going on Safari. We then had a discussion in class about the importance of National Parks in Africa and why they were needed. This was a great chance for the children to share their initial views and ideas that they had.
We used Google Earth to fly to Africa and then into Tanzania and found the Serengeti National park – we spoke about the landscape and what animals we thought we would find and why. We then watched a series of videos from YouTube that showed images from the Serengeti National Park. While the children were watching them I asked them to jot down words and phrases that came to mind while watching. We then used these words to create a series of Wordles that gave our first impressions of the park.
Using these, the writing task was to write the blurb for a tourist brochure or to go alongside one of the videos on You Tube, the writing was excellently structured as we had already covered persuasive writing throughout the year, however the use of the videos and the creative words and phrases that the children had come up with in the brainstorm really helped all the children to write.
We then embarked on the game – we used the co-operative element of the game and I had set it up that the driver and photographer would swap after every 3 minutes with pairs of children swapping every 5 photos. My class have been used to using the Wii all year, however some of them did struggle with co-ordinating their progress as we found the movements to be very sensitive. What it did do, was ensure that they slowed down and took a great deal of care. It was wonderful to watch them progress through the Serengeti hunting for elephants. 3 tables were on safari, while one table made notes on the information that we were given throughout on the Elephants and the last table wrote down phrases and thoughts about what they were seeing as if they were there.
The best moment came when an ostrich suddenly came out of the growth and charged at us – the whole class jumped and screamed – we all were ‘on’ safari. After the ‘mission’ had finished – which we did not complete as we had not taken enough photographs we talked about what we had found out.
* Need to hold the controllers carefully
*Need to listen and read instructions carefully!
*watch the bar at the top of the screen to see how much we had impacted on the environment.
* How we felt when the Ostrich charged!
*things we now knew about elephants.
It was a great first session – our writing tasks that followed were: a diary entry of our first day on safari from the point of view of the photographer and a fact file on elephants using information from the ‘game’.
In our ICT session we then used the fantastic switcheroo zoo the children had to create a ‘new’ creature that they had discovered while on safari, they also had to describe it’s habitat and what it liked to eat, how it got its food and if it was friendly! The creatures that the children came up were fantastic and after the lesson they then presented these in the style of David Attenborough to the class.
To move on to the next mission we had to ensure that this one had been completed – so once it had been done ( in a lunchtime!) we were able to go and photograph giraffes! Nick Dennis who I had met at BETT and know from twitter had asked if he could come in and see some of the work we were doing with games, so he came along on safari with us and wrote about his travels here. We followed a similar theme to our elephant day with the children taking notes, while taking it in turns to complete their photographic assignment. We were also encountering animals that they and I had not heard of – the Zorilla, for example! Where this was the case – pupils went to the class computer and researched what it was so that they could let the photographer know what they were looking for!
After completing our assignment – we then moved straight into the ICT suite and once again made use of Purple mash – this time using their safari fact sheet. The children had to choose the most important facts that they had found out about elephants and giraffes from the game and then research another 4 animals they had seen in the game. What followed was concentrated factual writing using a familiar on line tool.
I thoroughly enjoyed using this game for a short time and can see how easy it would be to extend for longer use both in Year 4 and 6 – where it fits in with our work on habitats. Also the quality of writing it produced was fantastic as the children were all motivated and engaged – this can be quite hard in Year 6 in July!
I look forward to exploring more of the game next year!