Teaching Across Subject Boundaries – Favorite Topic

When I was in Primary 7, we had two big topics which I really enjoyed. One of these was World War II, and the other was Australia. I enjoyed these topics hugely because they were very interactive and we as a class were ‘thrown’ into living and experiencing the lives that people relating to each of these topics would live.

My favorite and most memorable lessons from our WWII topic are:

  • Learning about evacuees – my class were the evacuees from the city, and the other P7 class were the families in the countryside that we were being evacuated to. We had to write correspondence letters to our ‘families’ in the other class for around a week, and then at the end of that week we were evacuated out of our classroom and into theirs to carry out the remainder of our lessons with our ‘host families’. I remember distinctly thinking it was a lot of fun for the first hour or so, but then quickly realized that the classroom was too small for us all, and that there weren’t enough resources to go around us all. This was super effective in engaging us to think about the advantages and disadvantages of evacuee children and their host families during the war.
  • VE Day – at the end of the topic, we had an ‘authentic celebration’ to celebrate the end of the war, where we had to dress up in appropriate clothing (thinking about make do and mend!), and we each had to bake something to bring in using rationed ingredients. This was a lot of fun, but still gave us a feel of the difficulties in everyday live and the aftereffects of the war.
  • We had to make our own Anderson Shelters and gas masks – we investigated in small groups how the Anderson shelters were made, and each group had to recreate them as a small model with corrugated iron, and then our teacher tested them out to see if they would withstand a ‘bomb’. We also experimented with different materials to make a gas mask, and our teacher sprayed body spray, and we had to investigate which material wouldn’t let the smell of the body spray through and therefore (in theory) would be the most successful gas mask.

We did second topic on Australia because my P6 teacher moved to Australia and we wanted to know more about where she was moving to. My favorite and most memorable lessons from our Australia topic are:

  • We had to create a character who was British, but was sent to Australia as a convict. We wrote a factfile about our characters, including their name, their crime, character description etc. We then had to write a diary account from the POV of our character from the ship travelling to Australia, and another as they set up their lives in Australia.
  • We did a lot of work about the Great Barrier Reef, what it looked like, the plants and animals there, and where it was located. We also explored its environment and the reasons why it was dying. We had to, in small groups, come up with ways to solve the problem of the erosion of the Great Barrier Reef, and ways to implement this.
  • I also remember doing a solo project about an Australian person where we had to research them and their lives, and then present our findings to the class.

These were my favorite and most memorable lessons from primary school, I think mostly because they gave us the opportunity to do a lot of active and co-operative learning.

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