People in the community

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By Kathy AlcockSenior Lecturer in Education, Canterbury Christ Church University College

The interactions of people with the physical environment can often be overlooked during a geographical study. Learning about the citizens who make up your local community can be a great way of introducing children to human geography and its impact

Although geography involves the study of People and Places and Patterns and Processes, an analysis of the Programme of Study for geography shows that there are few direct references to people. Yet, it is how people respond to their physical environment – as well as the impact of the physical environment on human activity – that makes geography such an interesting subject. This article puts people at the centre of a unit of work, helping children to consider the people who they have direct and indirect contact with and those who serve the needs of the community.

Activities: Whole class work Y3-6

  1. Initiate a discussion on what is meant by the terms ‘community’ and ‘local area’. Allow the children to express views about what makes their community special and unique. It is important to create positive images and to encourage children to value the place where they live, while offering opportunities to suggest possible improvements. This activity has strong links with citizenship; children that feel some ownership of their locality are more likely to take an active, informed interest in what happens there.
  1. Progress to talking about people in the local community in terms of those who help us. People might help us by serving our needs, keeping the surroundings clean and tidy, answering our questions, providing essential services and so on. You could approach this discussion by asking the children to:
  • think about people they have met recently and the jobs they do
  • focus their thoughts on one street and the people who live and work there
  • scan a local newspaper for people-related news items
  • consider who helps them to take care of their own body – from head to toe! Who helps them to keep fit, healthy, clothed and clean?
  • look at a series of prepared photographs or find their own pictures and make a quiz for others to complete.
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