Gallery Visit🎨🖼

Physically visit an art gallery, exhibition or museum. Select a piece of work and develop a project for the primary classroom based on your study, research and understanding of the piece and its context.

I visited the McManus gallery in Dundee and selected a piece called ‘Waldella’ created by the artist David Batchelor. It was top on my list for catching my attention.

“The only colours that interested me were unnatural and artificial colours. Industrial colours, city colours: chemical, electrical, plastic, metallic, neon…”

I picked this piece to write a reflection on as it was the brightest and most colourful piece of artwork in my eyes in the McManus. It is made from 200 plastic bottles, electrical flex and low energy lamps. As you can see from the photos, the central concern for this piece is colour. The subject matter Batchelor explores are always rooted in and linked to the artificial and industrially manufactured world. Everything that he has used is found (manufactured for some purpose other than art) and ‘poor’, being used up or industrial. The ‘shiny’ colourful materials are always contrasted by mechanisms of how the work is powered and supported – electrical flex, junction boxes and plugs (both of equal importance and both transformed int sculptural objects of mesmerising beauty).

A project for the primary classroom could involve taking children on a trip to the McManus galleries and getting them to study ‘Waldella’ and allow them to make sketches and annotations based on their judgements and visual experience. I thought this piece would be relevant and enjoyable for children as it is visually appealing and made out of household items. Following on from this back in the classroom, children could make their own replica of the piece using ‘Waldella’ as a stimulus and making reference to annotations they took while in the gallery. Each child would bring artificial items from home that will being going to waste after they are emptied and then create their own artwork out of the items. The children can then choose to use bright, neon paints that can be added after the construction stage. As a class, we can discuss and explore why we think Batchelor created this piece and what it says about our environment and the place we live in. Additionally, moving away from art and design, as a class we can explore the importance of recycling plastic and the effect it has on our environment.

Responding To A Performance🎭

The strange tales of Roald Dahl have always captured my attention since I was a child. So when Matilda the musical was on in the theatre I couldn’t resist going.

The story of Matilda is about a young girl who has gifted and armed with a vivid imagination and telekinetic powers stands up to change her future. The message, that you can control your own story, and rebellion and protest can defeat the bullies, is deeply embedded.

She is neglected by her parents and is enrolled at a school with a rather masculine head teacher called Miss Trunchbull. In the musical Miss Trunchbull is played by a male to emphasis the masculinity. This may be a vilan in the story but every time she appeared back on stage she was greeted with a roar and laugh from the audience. This has a great contrast to Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey, who has the sweetest heart and becomes one of Matilda’s few and only friends.

The setting of the musical is very eye catching and bright, which really brought scenes and songs to life. During the song ‘When I Grow Up’ bright, electric alphabet blocks are used as props lighting up the stage and the actors swing out to the audience on swings attached to the stage. This song introduces Act II in a really effective way.

The music in the play helps the audience feel the actors emotions and blend break up the acting scenes nicely.

I quite liked how the musical wasn’t a replica of the book or the movie as Matilda’s mum went to ballroom dancing classes instead of the bingo, which introduced new scenes. This made it a bit more exciting as you didn’t know what would happen during these.

This theatre production would be an excellent one to take second level children to as it was very enjoyable, cheery and relatable to a child of that age but also had a powerful but never too frightening vilan in it to add a more mature impression on it. I would either use the theatre trip as an introduction to a topic on Roald Dahl or use it to finish up a topic on Roald Dahl after they were familiar with the book and movie.

Learning Theme Explored Through Song And Dance🦖🦕

I chose the theme of ‘Dinosaurs’ to explore through song and dance for early years and first level. This theme allows for lots of big movement and positions for the children to learn and move to. Being able to create big movements will make the learning more memorable, active and engaging for the children.

I found a suitable song about dinosaurs to use to choreograph the dance to. The song lyrics speak about different dinosaurs and tells the children facts about each one too, which helps the children learn facts and knowledge as they are dancing.

I choreographed a dance piece to the music, matching up the lyrics to the movements.

“Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs. Can you hear their fearsome rawrs?” Marching on the spot and a big RAWR! at the end using hands as claws.

“Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Coming from the muddy swamp.” Clap hands 4 times and crouch down to the ground in frog position.

“Come on everyone let’s RAWR!” Change position with a partner whilst RAWRing.

“Stamping feet. Stamping feet. Tyrannosaurus is looking for meat. He’s very tall, with great big jaws, little hands and sharp sharp claws.” Stamp feet 6 times as gradually rising. Bend down and look from left to right with hands like binoculars. Jump up as tall as you can reach. Snap arms like a crocodile. Wave hands and scratch forward 3 times.

“Stretching tall. Stretching tall. Brachiosaurus stretching tall. Brachiosaurus was never small. Long neck reached the highest plants and weight more than 14 elephants.” Stand as tall as possible on tip toes with one arm in air with hand like a floppy head. Jump down into frog position. Reach one arm from side to side making a snapping motion with hand. Everyone run into middle on room to make a huddle.

“Flapping wings. Flapping wings. Pterodactyles were such funny things. With little hands and little feet and a big great beak to catch fish to eat.” Arms out to side and flap them like a bird as you move back into a space. Pretend to giggle with one hand over stomach and one over mouth. Wave hands. Tap each foot forward, one at a time. Snap arms like a crocodile. 

“Swinging tails. Swinging tails. Stegosaurus had some spiny scales, all along his high arched back he was ready for attack. Turn back to front and swing arm behind like a tail. Step turn step. Down on all fours. Pull an attacking face!

“Paddling flippers. Paddling flippers. Plesiosaurus couldn’t wear slippers for he lived in the sea not on the land and he berried his eggs, guess where, in the sand”. Move arms around in a swimming motion moving to the right then to the left. Sit down with legs in front and tap sides of feet together 2 times. Pencil roll from right to left.

“Ready to charge. Ready to charge. Triceratops is looking rather large. Horns on his head and horn on his snout. Might just catch you so watch out.” Stand up and run backwards then forward using arms in a running motion. Make a stretched arms and legs out to sides, one limb at a time (4). Make horns out of hands on head and nose. Grapevine movement right and left while grabbing on arm out right then left.

“Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs. Can you hear their fearsome rawrs?” Marching on the spot and a big RAWR! at the end using hands as claws.

“Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Coming from the muddy swamp.” Clap hands 4 times and crouch down to the ground in frog position.

“Quick run away!!” Run off stage.

Music and Storytelling🥁📖

I picked the story ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. When doing this lesson with a class it is best to pick story’s that the children already know so it is more motivating and meaningful for the children. Also try and pick a story that something exciting happens in it.

I scanned through the book and then picked instruments and sound effects we thought would suit the different movements and words in the book.

We used drums, rain makers, metal triangles, tambourines and wooden instruments.

We then practiced narrating the book and adding the sounds to the correct parts and then recorded the whole thing. Here is the results:


I really enjoyed this TDT and it really made me think how language can be linked to music. It had inspired me to try this in my class in the future.


Makey Makey🕹

On the 26th of September we had a lecture with Derek. No one knew this lecture would lead to us being Derek’s most successful ‘Makey Makey’ class throughout his time teaching this module.

Derek firstly spoke to us about using technology in the classroom, its benefits and purposes for real learning. He then introduced the material called ‘Makey Makey’. This is an invention kit which turns everyday objects into touch pads and combines them with the internet. It is a lot where creativity and invention combines and a person of any ability can use it.

Derek got our class to gather around a set up example he had prepared. His example was called ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’. He used the science of water and conductivity to create a sound game where by when you touched jelly in a pot it would create a sound/lyric. He had several jelly pots hooked up to the ‘Makey Makey’ and each one played a different part of Destiny’s Child’s song “Bootylicious”. The lyric sounds were coming from a programme called ‘Scratch’ on his laptop. He had imported the sounds into ‘Scratch’ and then his laptop was connected to the ‘Makey Makey’ where by the sound clips were synced with individual cables which went into the jelly pots. It was really quite entertaining but I could appreciate at the same time all the learning a student could take form this example. Derek also showed us various examples off the ‘Makey Makey’ website to get us inspired.

He then set us a task which was to be completed in the forthcoming week. We had to create our own ‘Makey Makey’ activity for a classroom. The activity’s purpose would be to aid a child’s learning and link to another curricular area of learning. We got into groups and started to brainstorm ideas. My group consisted of myself, Jen, Beth, Anna and Aine. We thought of a number of ideas before reaching our final one, one idea we came up with involved using conductivity in fruit to create music. But our final idea was to create a life size game of ‘Operation’.

It took us 3 sessions to collaboratively create our invention as a group. Firstly we drew around Jen to get an outline of a body onto cardboard. We then decided which body part (muscles and bones) we would use for the operation. Once we had decided we marked out rectangular shapes on the cardboard where we would later cut out to create the resting place for the body parts. We chose to operate with a brain, heart, humerus, small intestines and tibia. We cut out the rectangles and stuck recycled plastic boxes underneath to hold to body parts.

We now had out base done and we could now start to neaten it up and make it look more like the real operation game. We drew a new body outline on white paper and made the background purple and re-cut out the rectangles. The holes for the body parts were then lined with tin foil, this was so that when the outsides of the holes were touched when playing the game it would react and conduct electricity through the wires with the ‘Makey Makey’ and could create the buzzing noise. We wrote the title of the game on the side and poped all the handmade body parts in their correct holes.

The technical part was the next step. We had the hook up each hole, clipping the wires to the tin foil of each hole. These wires were then connected to the ‘Makey Makey’ kit and then one extra cable connected the ‘Makey Makey’ to our laptop. We then used scratch to create the buzzing sound and attached the sound to each of the 5 body parts. We then had to “Earth” ourselves to the ‘Makey Makey’, to do this we had to create a tin foil bracelet to wear when playing the game and hook that up to the ‘Makey Makey’ as well so that a current could run through us to the other hand that would be picking up the body parts.

It was very rewarding testing it out for the first time and hearing the buzzing sound when we touched the sides.

Our invention could link to a few different curricular areas. The main curricular area was technology and this linked to health and well-being, expressive arts, science and mathematics.

We then got to present our invention to Derek and the class and test out everyone else’s inventions.


This project has inspired me to use this kit in the classroom and get children to use their imagination through invention and creativity.


Storytelling in Music🎼

Today we had a music workshop with Sharon. The workshop started with Sharon showing us how to introduce music to children through using your body and vocals for making sound. The advantage of this is that there is less mess and disruption than if you were to get musical instruments out in the classroom. This way every child is equal with their resources and are more engaged with the teacher than their ‘instrument’.

We sat in a circle, cross legged, and Sharon got one person to keep a 4 beat rhythm. Everyone else copied. Sharon then pointed at people individually and ask them to create a new rhythm to follow. We carried this on for a few different people to take charge in.

Sharon then added cups to our lesson. This was a step up from just using our bodies and would be a bit more exciting for children – keeping them engaged. We then did the same activity but using cups as part of our rhythms this time.

Sharon then discussed with us the use of story books in music. By adding sound effects to a story it enhances the words and how the children imagine the story in their head. She gave examples of movements described in books such as tip toeing and how that would be represented on a piano – the higher pitched end, compared to a stomping movement which would be on the lower pitch of the piano.

We then split into groups and were given a task. Aine, Taylor and I’s task was to create our own recording of a narrated story paired with sound effects. Sharon gave my group the story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ which I thought was a great book for the task as in the book where are a lot of sound effects described. We scanned through the book and then picked instruments we thought would suit the different movements and words in the book. We then practiced narrating the book and adding the sounds to the correct parts and then recorded the whole thing. Here is the results:


I really enjoyed this workshop and it really made me think how language can be linked to music. It had inspired me to try this in my class in the future. 

When doing this lesson with a class it is best to pick story’s that the children already know so it is more motivating and meaningful for the children. Also try and pick a story that something exciting happens in it.

RRS Discovery⚓️

Today we had a day off from university, so Jennifer, Beth and I decided to use the time to do an education trip to the RRS Discovery ship in Dundee. Our aim was to learn about the history, geography and science of the exhibition and reflect on the suitability of the exhibition for children and school trips and justify learning that would take place on a school visit.

The Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic is the reason Dundee has it’s fond relationship to penguins and they are seen throughout the city.


The RSS Discovery was built in Dundee by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company and its purpose was Antarctic research. RRS stands for Royal Research Ship and it was first launched on its adventure to the ‘unknown land’ on the 21st of March 1901.

Only 6 years previous, the first person landed on the continent and no one had ever travelled more than 50 km from its coast. The expedition to the coldest place on earth was in the pursuit of new lands, scientific advancement and adventure. Their first expedition was successful and named the ‘Discovery Expedition’.

The ship sighted the Antarctic coastline on the 8th of January 1902 after it’s long journey from Dundee. The journey consisted of many stops along the way, these included; London, Madeira, Brazil, Cape Town, Macquarie Islands and New Zealand.

The expedition was an exciting experience as the land was so unknown to any person at this time.

The ship was caught in ice at the end of the expedition. They had to use explosives to set it free. This happened on the 16th of February 1904 and they sailed back home to Dundee.

The successfulness is the reason it floats in Dundee today.



The city of Dundee is positioned on the east coast and because of this it gets a great deal of shelter from bad weather and this meant for an ideal location for a harbour.

The River Tay also serves great importance. It is a passageway for imports and exports which supported the city and it’s development over time.

Whilst in Antarctica drinking water was a lengthy and hard process. Ice blocks had to be cut out of the ground using picks and shovels, placed on a sledge and then pulled back to the Discovery ship where they would be melted into drinking water.

Fresh food would not survive long over the lengthy time at sea so they had to take a lot of preserved food with them. The continent of Antartica does not produce any fresh produce as the conditions are so harsh and cold, no plant would be able to survive and grow. The only fresh food it provided was seals and penguins which the men hunted and used for food.

Hartley T. Ferrar was the first person to do any major geological research in Antartica. On the expedition he discovered and plotted the distribution of the different types of rocks found in the mountains. He recorded his findings in details scale drawings. He found the evidence that Antartica was indeed a continent by finding granite – the main rock from which continents are formed. He also discovered the some of the first concerns of global warming. He found evidence that the ice and glaciers in Antartica has receded up to 2 or 3 miles in places. Today global warming is a major concern for us. The conclusions from Ferrar’s research was that the climate conditions in Antartica was once very different. Be found evidence of once existing rivers. His work helped scientists construct theories of continental drift and plate tectonics proving that Antarctica has moved to its present position from a part of the world’s surface where the climate was very different.



Edward Wilson was the zoologist on board the Discovery. His role was to identify and describe the variety of penguins, whales, seals and birds that he would find. The Discovery expedition was the first to sight an Emperor Penguin and to collect the first egg of the species ever seen.



Thomas Hodgson was involved with the marine biology research on board. During the expedition he collected; fish, sponges, corals, jellyfish, sea-urchins, sea-lilies, starfish, sea spiders, parasitic worms, spider-crabs, amphipods and sea-squirts. He caught the species by cutting holes int he ice and putting nets through the holes. The species collected were collected within a slushy ice which meant they had to be thawed before they could be inspected.


Justification for a class visit

The RRS Discovery is a great resource for a school trip. It offers an active approach to learning about social subjects. The RRS Discovery could even be made into your class’s term/year topic as it offers IDL opportunities.

After our visit to the expedition I am able to reflect on its suitability to a class. I think that a visit to the exhibition would suit the upper stages in school best as there is a lot of information to read on your way round which younger years would struggle to read and engage with. But saying this it isn’t all text information there are also movies to watch and audio recordings to listen to which means a not so confident reader could use these instead. Things also to consider are the heights of the exhibits as they many not be suitable to certain age groups.

I think the class visit should take place during their topic but closer to the start since i feel if you took a class pre-topic they might be confused as to what the exhibition is about or not have to motivation to engage in the exhibition as to if you did it during the topic you would be able to brief the class prior to the visit so they would have an understanding of what to expect and the basic story which they can then deepen during their visit.

The intended learning of the visit would be; to learn about the history of the RRS Discovery and it’s heritage relating to Dundee, to learn about the how the achievements the research gained effects the present day, to develop an understanding of different cultures and geological climates, to explore different times and places, to build on any previous knowledge and to develop a knowledge of past artefacts. This learning can be then explored and discussed back in the classroom through a series of lessons.

Experiences and outcomes that would guide these learning intentions would include:

  • I can use primary and secondary sources selectively to research events in the past. SOC 2-01a.
  • I can interpret historical evidence from a range of periods to help to build a picture of Scotland’s heritage and my sense of chronology. SOC 2-02a.
  • I can investigate a Scottish historical theme to discover how past events or the actions of individuals or groups have shaped Scottish society. SOC 2-03a.
  • I can compare and contrast a society in the past with my own and contribute to a discussion of the similarities and differences. SOC 2-04a.
  • I can discuss the environmental impact of human activity and suggest ways in which we can live in a more environmentally- responsible way. SOC 2-08a.
  • By comparing my local area with a contrasting area outwith Britain, I can investigate the main features of weather and climate, discussing the impact on living things. SOC 2-12a.
  • I can explain how the physical environment influences the ways in which people use land by comparing my local area with a contrasting area. SOC 2-13a. 
  • To extend my mental map and sense of place, I can interpret information from different types of maps and am beginning to locate key features within Scotland, UK, Europe or the wider world. SOC 2-14a.

There are many interdisciplinary links that could be relevant to this topic. This topic would use the second approach of IDL which is uses curricular areas “to explore a theme or an issue, meet a challenge, solve a problem or complete a final project”.

Technology –

A link to technology and design could be made. This could involve learning about the design of the ship, how it was made and what materials were used. A lesson could be conducted whereby a class get to design and create their own ship with the influence of the RRS Discovery design.

I can extend and enhance my design skills to solve problems and can construct models. TCH 2-09a.

Health and Well-being –

A link to health and well-being could be made by learning about the harsh weather conditions that the people aboard RRS Discovery had to endure and learn what they did/used to survive.

I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible. HWB 2-16a.

Expressive Arts –

A link to expressive arts could be made. During the RRS Discovery expedition the zoologist pained pictures of the animals found in Antartica, this could be made into a lesson whereby the children practice painting pictures of the different animals you get in Antartica.

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks. EXA 2-02a.

Another link in this curricular area can be under the Drama heading. Children could create a drama piece of the RRS Discovery’s journey based on what they learnt on their visit.

I have created and presented scripted or improvised drama, beginning to take account of audience and atmosphere. EXA 2-14a

Science –

A link to science could be made. Children could investigate and learn about the different animals that were found on the expedition and learn how they survived in the Antarctic conditions.

I can identify and classify examples of living things, past and present, to help me appreciate their diversity. I can relate physical and behavioural characteristics to their survival or extinction. SCN 2-01a.

Another link to science could be made by learning about buoyancy, relating this to how the ship stayed afloat and what makes this happen. An activity in the classroom could involve a tub of water and the children would test different materials and record their buoyancy levels.

By investigating floating and sinking of objects in water, I can apply my understanding of buoyancy to solve a practical challenge. SCN 2-08b.

 Another link to science could be made by looking at the substances that make but the continent of Antarctica and compare these to the substances that make up other continents in the world.

Having explored the substances that make up Earth’s surface, I can compare some of their characteristics and uses. SCN 2-17a.

Another link to science could be made by looking into the what research was found and discovered during the RRS Discovery expedition and identifying how this has impacted society today.

Through research and discussion I have an appreciation of the contribution that individuals are making to scientific discovery and invention and the impact this has made on society. SCN 2-20a.


During the class visit to the RSS Discovery they will get to engage in the number of activities. These activities can provide an evidence-based approach for children. These include; watching short movie clips, dressing up, creating crayon rubbings, using a toy crane (involves problem solving skills), drawing animal pictures, paying with child friendly builder tools, using their senses to feel, smell, hear and see what the expedition was like and walking around the desks of the RRS Discovery.

The exhibition also offer pre-booked school group visits. These visits are 4 hours long and have a structured timetable to its contents.

10:00 Arrive and introduction – group taken to dedicated “Polarama” education suite.– Snack and comfort break – bag drop in our secure lockers.
10:15 Full guided tour of RRS Discovery – focusing on elements of the ships design, her voyages and the stories of the crew.
11:15 Workshop (in Polarama)
12:15 Packed lunch (in Polarama or on quayside if good weather)
12:45 Exhibition area with free treasure hunt sheets and chance to explore all exhibits and interactives as you saw on your visit.
13:45 Comfort break and bag collect
14:00 Depart

The visits can be tailored to different age groups including the activities and workshops within them. But the above structure is the most common one they would use with a group.

One of the most popular workshops the exhibition can offer is one called the ‘Polar Explorer’ workshop. It is run by the education team at the exhibition. The workshop begins with a discussion with the children on what the climate and conditions were like that the explorers had to endure while in Antartica, including details on frostbite, scurvy and hypothermia. A debate can also be brought up for children to give their own opinions on about women in society, as there were no women in Antartica during this “heroic age”. The workshop then moves onto a demonstration and re-anactment. Children will get to be models and try on the different clothing that they would have worn on the expedition to Antartica. Children will get the opportunity to examine them and consider the materials use in them. The workshop then ends with a question and answer session.

To reflect on what the children have learnt during the trip I would create a series of lessons touching on different curricular areas to include IDL and each lesson would touch on a certain aspect of the exhibition to test, renew and deepen their learning and knowledge on the topic.

To assess that the children have achieved the intended learning I would devise a suitable plenary for each lesson to check for understanding of the learning intentions ad success criteria.



The Discovery expedition made a great contribution to human knowledge. While answering some questions about the nature of Antartica and the creatures that live there, it also posed many more questions, setting the stage for future explores and scientists.

For children, the Discovery is a great local exhibition where children can expand and build on their knowledge of the world they live in. It gives them the opportunity to use fieldwork, specifically the look and see type, along with sensory activities which really brings the experience alive, active and create a context for understanding. Also by making a topic out of the RSS Discovery it would motivate and influence children to want to explore and discover their world.



Turn your pupils into Polar Explorers!

Historical Storytelling📖

In my latest history input we spoke a bit about storytelling in a historical context. A video clip of this being done in a primary class was shown to us, it was quite inspiring.

In the clip the teacher would put on a ‘special’ jacket when we was about to tell this history story. This transformed him into this character and it helped to engage the children in this characters experience.

I think this approach is a great way of teaching history as you are not reading to the children but rather telling the children the knowledge in a more interactive and engaging way.

The use of storytelling means we can; speak straight from the past, use powerful eye contact, use movement and gestures in relation to the speech and use different voice for characters. Through storytelling we can transport children’s imaginations through time into different worlds and places in time.

The purpose to storytelling is to:

  • Convey information, ideas, and technical language through engaging children’s imagination.
  • Create a context, providing a mental map and a visualisation of a past situation.
  • Serve the need for wonder.
  • Help children to understand human situations and the human condition, and thus connect the past to the present.
  • Empowering lessons making them exciting and motivating to learners.

(The Historical Association, 2018).

How do you create stories?

  1. Choose a topic, and find out as much detail as you can – you will be conveying information through painting word pictures.
  2. Identify a problem and its solution – this gives the story its shape.
  3. Build your descriptions, flesh out your characters and the context they lived in. How did they think, look, feel and act? What motivated them?
  4. Rehearse the story to yourself – run a mental video of the story unfolding.
  5. Tell the story to the children, living and acting it by using appropriate voices and gestures and moving round the room.

(The Historical Association, 2018).



n.b. (2018). The Historical Association. Website. Available at: [Accessed 22/09/18].

Reflection on IDL

The past few inputs we have had within this module have been about interdisciplinary learning, what it involves and how it is used in the classroom.

“The curriculum should include space for learning beyond subject boundaries, so that children and young people can make connections between different areas of learning. Interdisciplinary studies, based upon groupings of experiences and outcomes from within and across curriculum areas, can provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences and stimulating contexts to meet the varied needs of children and young people”

(Education Scotland, 2012).


What is interdisciplinary learning?

Interdisciplinary learning is an approach to learning that aims to use links across the curricular subjects (expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages, mathematics, religious and moral education, sciences, social studies and technologies) to enhance a child’s learning. Encouraging the integration of skills, understanding and knowledge across the curricular subjects. It gives the opportunity to develop what has already been taught and learned in new and dissimilar ways. IDL also helps to deepen learning, this can be done through problem solving, creating and finishing final projects and looking further into issues (Education Scotland, 2012).

“Cross-curricular learning occurs when the skills, knowledge and attitudes of a number of different disciplines are applied to a single theme, problem, idea or experience” (Barnes, 2015).

Characteristics that help shape IDL include;

  • Projects which are longer than a normal course of study.
  • Planned with a clear purpose.
  • Based upon E’s and O’s and taken from different curricular area within them.
  • It ensures progression in skills, knowledge and understanding.
  • The opportunity for mixed stage learning is given, which is interest based.

(Education Scotland, 2012)

2 approaches to effective IDL:

1. Not only is it good for the teachers learning but it’s helpful to show the children and give them awareness and understanding of how the curricular areas integrate. This can be developed in a number of different ways, this could be through; knowledge developed, or the ways of working, or the attributes, capabilities and skills (including higher-order thinking skills) being combined, or through a particular perspective given by different subjects (Education Scotland, 2012). 

Revisiting a concept or skill from different view deepens understanding. This can make the curriculum more meaningful from the learners’ perspective (Education Scotland, 2012).

A good way to do this is to find a common ground in 2 or more curricular subjects which means they can explore an idea in more depth. More over when an idea relates to the real world a child can better understand since the learning is more relevant. An example of this could be when learning about probability in mathematics is connected to the learning of genetics in science (Education Scotland, 2012).

2. Effective practice of IDL can also be seen when curricular subjects are used to; investigate a theme or an issue, encounter a challenge, problem solve or to finish a final project. This can be done by making a context that is real and relevant to learners, the school and local community  (Education Scotland, 2012).


How is interdisciplinary learning planned?

IDL is most effective when it is suited to and meets learners’ needs. To do this teachers could merge curricular subjects under a theme or context, ensuring that the learning has clearly identified next steps. This requires looking at progression over time in knowledge, attributes and capabilities, and skills (including higher-order thinking skills). Children can also take part in this and identify what they think should be their next steps, along with choosing the theme or topic to set the learning in. Involving learners with decisions is key (Education Scotland, 2012).

Other ways to ensure effective IDL planning include;

  • Firstly selecting E’s and O’s with care.
  • Having a purpose for using one of the two approaches to IDL.
  • Involving learners in planning.
  • Ensuring progression.
  • Making sure learners and staff know what knowledge and skills are being developed through IDL, and that this is not lost within the context. Reflection sessions at the end of lessons are a great way of discussing which curricular areas were linked and what knowledge and skills from these areas were used and deepened through the learning.
  • Identifying clear learning intentions and success criteria within short- term planning.

When thinking about long-term planning, many schools use a ‘framework for interdisciplinary learning’. This framework ensures that children get a fair experience of broad general education. It was ensures that IDL; is planned around children’s needs, takes hold of different curricular areas, adds to children previous knowledge and reduces the risk of repetition in learning (Education Scotland, 2012).

“In best practice, interdisciplinary learning provides astimulating and self-motivating context for learning and is bothenjoyable and relevant. It leads to a better, more rounded understanding of important ideas and to an increased competence in using knowledge and skills in transferable ways. Staff will be clear about the connections across learning that they want children and young people to explore and understand. They will also know what children and young people have learned previouslyand how they will apply and develop this learning in new and different ways. Everyone involved will know which skills and ideas from different subjects or disciplines they are bringing together, and why.” (Education Scotland, 2012).


Types of Cross-Curricular Learning/Teaching

Cross-curricular learning and teaching can be organised in 8 ways:

  • Tokenistic
  • Hierarchical
  • Single transferable subject
  • Theme-vased
  • Multi-disciplinary
  • Inter-disciplinary
  • Opportunistic
  • Double-focus

These can be overlapped in projects and more than one can be used at a time. Each approach has different aims and strengths within them (Barnes, 2015).


A little bit of history

  • Cross-curricular links were first seen between English, Mathematics and Science in the mid 1990s. But these were seen in small print, pushed to the outside margins.
  • Cross-curricular teaching almost disappeared between 1997 and 2003, this happened in an aim to help teacher manage their packed schedules of learning.
  • The term ‘enjoyment’ made its way into the curriculum vocabulary in 2003. This was an attempt to give flexibility to the tightening curriculum and knock down subject boundaries so show that the curriculum could be arranged so that links could be made between areas.
  • Jim Rose proposed that something had to be done about the “overcrowded yet narrowed” curriculum in 2009/10. Cross-curricular studies was a common strand to his views of change.
  • In 2010 Robin Alexander chaired a review which included aims of education and domains of learning. The domains of learning were close to ideas from Rose and curricular areas seen in Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Alexander’s domains included opportunities for cross-curricular approaches.
  • Also in 2010 the Tickle review was concerned with cross-curricular and creative approaches in the early years.

(Barnes, 2015).



Barnes, J. (2015). Cross-Curricular Learning 3-14. 3rd Ed. London: Sage Publication Ltd. pp. 49 – 82.

Education Scotland. (2012). CFE Briefings, 4 Interdisciplinary Learning. Availible at: Accessed 18/08/18.

Lesson Planning

Today in our Social Subjects input we spoke about lesson planning around current/recent news events which relate to social subjects. This way the children are learning about current issues.

Jennifer and I paired up to create a lesson plan, for a primary 7 class, based on a new article we found online about the effect rubbish pollution has on sea turtles. We used this as a stimulus and hence based our lesson around recycling. The lesson we created could be anywhere in the series of lessons, so we chose to create a lesson which in 2 or 3 lessons into the series.

The lesson plan we created is shown below:

Once we had finished our plans we then presented them to another pair in the class. The activity was very useful for giving us as student teachers ideas on how to come up with lessons that relate to what is happening in the world around the children at the current time, making it meaningful and gives context to learning.

Our tutor also gave Jennifer and I some tips to edit our lesson plan which i found very helpful. One tip she gave us was that instead of telling children information about a topic, get the children to research and find answers/knowledge out for themselves, this way to are using active learning and engaging the children to use researching skills. Allowing children to research topics also develops children’s teamwork and note taking skills along with children learning to decipher if information is useful, reliable and appropriate. This idea is also a bonus for teachers as it reduces their workload and they can use this extra time for other things.

I feel like after this input I will be more critical when writing lesson plans and be more inclined to look back over drafts to see what could be changed for the better, whether its to benefit the children or teacher.