Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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Primary education: listening and observing

1 Cross-curricular projects

In Session 4, you heard children talking about homework. They said they would like to have homework that is fun and interesting. Children are very likely to say the same about their classroom learning.

In primary schools there is an emphasis on literacy (reading and writing) and numeracy (calculating and number work), but there is also an emphasis on cross-curricular thematic projects or ‘topic’ work, where children learn a number of different curriculum subjects under one theme.

You met teacher Sarah Johnson in Session 3. Watch her now as she talks about cross-curricular work and how she plans it. At the moment, she is teaching a wide range of subjects to 4 and 5 year old children, all linked to the story of Peter Pan.

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Transcript: Video 1

I'd say cross-curricular work, it's quite a creative approach to teaching. It's a way where you can develop a child's skills, knowledge, and understanding through topics which are interconnected. At the moment in reception, we have been learning about Peter Pan. So through Peter Pan we've been able to talk about the past and look at old time London and talk about how London has changed. And through that, the children have been able to interview their parents at home and talk about how toys have changed over time and then link it back to their own experiences. We've also then moved on to talk about Mermaid Lagoon and underwater creatures and sea creatures and sea animals. And so tomorrow, we're actually going to go to the Sea Life Centre and investigate that a little bit further, which takes us quite nicely onto our next topic in the summertime, which is all about mini beasts and super worms. So we start with the Julia Donaldson text Superworm. And we talk about mini beasts. But in the Sea Life Centre, there is a section which is or is called a ranger section, and there's lots of mini beasts there. So that kind of prepares the children for their new learning which is going to take place after the holiday.
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Video 1
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Which curriculum subjects do you think children are learning in the Peter Pan topic and the trip to the sea life centre? Take a moment to jot these down, and then check your ideas with what Sarah says.

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Transcript: Video 2

So we are covering history. Because we're talking about how things have changed over time. We have been covering literacy. Because the children will be able to write about what their favourite part of the trip was, or their favourite animal. We're also going to get some clay out, which encourages that expressive arts and design. And the children will be able to use different materials. So they'll use their clay to recreate one of their favourite sea animals. With their maths, we do things like, we put sea creatures in water. And we can do things like estimate, and how many animals do you think are in the water? Are you correct? Can we sort them out? So there's lots of links that you can make just round taken an interest that you think the child will like. In addition to that, we obviously have our role play area, which is Peter Pan's hideout. So we get their PSED side of it. And we get the communication and language. And we get note make kind of signs that you put on the role play.
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Video 2
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Were you surprised that when Sarah plans play and exploration activities for young children that she has curriculum subjects such as literacy and numeracy in mind, and that she blends different curriculum subjects into children’s play?

Sarah uses a couple of terms that you may not be familiar with:

  • PSED stands for Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
  • Julia Donaldson is a children’s author.

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