Teaching Europe for Geography in the Primary years?

For geography, I needed teach the influence of people on the environmental characteristics of places in Europe and the location of their major countries in relation to Australia (ACHASSK111) . There are basically two components to this content descriptor: (1) The influence of people on the environment in Europe, and (2) The location of the major countries.

For the first content descriptor, I was aware that students love to learn about other countries. However,  I wanted my students to guide their own learning with an inquiry focus, rather then me simply delivering the content. To begin, we explored basic mapping skills using a world map. We discussed continents (revision from previous year) and coloured Australia, Europe and North America in different colours on a world map, as these are the three continents I needed to focus on (note, his post will mainly refer to Europe). Then students created a key for each continent, added the equator, tropics, lines of longitude and latitude and a title. 3 Continents World Map Student Sample-1zrdf6e

We watched a video introduction of Europe (LINK) and then I gave students a range of various maps of Europe. The range of maps showed Europe’s average temperature, vegetation, natural hazards and population density. Using these maps, students were given a blank map of Europe and asked to add information about Europe to their blank map and create a key. A great website for downloading blank maps or other maps of the world is FreeWorldMaps.net.

Then, using their knowledge of Europe I asked students to create 10 possible inquiry questions to investigate for Europe’s natural features and man-made features. Examples of students’ inquiry questions included:
– Why is Europe so cold and why?
– What animals are native to Europe and how does their habitat suit them?
– Are there any threatened species in Europe and why?
– What is the population of Europe compared to Australia?
– What are the most famous man-made landmarks of Europe?
– Why might people choose to visit Europe?
– Is there any pollution and why?

Students then negotiated 2 natural and 2 man-made inquiry questions of Europe to focus their research on. In order to develop students’ note taking skills, and to reduce the chance of simply copying information from sources, I asked students to draw a concept map on an A3 piece of paper. For this unit I chose the ‘paper and pen’ method because for my previous inquiry unit, which was on Australian Bush fires, students used Microsoft Class OneNote.

When creating their concept map, students were asked to write Europe in the centre (the main topic) and then turn each of their inquiry questions into a sub heading. For example, using the question; What animals are native to Europe and how does their habitat suit them?; One student chose the subheading of ‘native animals and habitat’. Students were then only permitted to use 3 words for each dot point on their concept map. Once completed, students used their concept map to write an information report about Europe.



For the second descriptor, I gave students a map of the countries of Europe and  showed them a video using mnemonics to learn the countries of Europe. Using their map they could follow along. As with any form of route learning tasks, (ie getting students to learn their times tables), you need to find a way to make it fun. So I decided to use Kahoot.

Kahoot is a free game based learning platform which enables users to create their own learning based game within minutes. You can add videos, multiple choice quizzes, surveys and much more. Furthermore, students do not need to create their own account. The teacher creates the Kahoot, selects team mode and then it generates a code for students. Using any device, students go to this link, type in the code which the teacher gives them, type in their first name and then the class can play together. This is a great way of learning but take note, students become very excited so the noise level tends to increase.

If you don’t have time to make your own Kahoot, you can search the library of Kahoots to use. The Kahoot I created for my students is called Countries of Europe JVillis.

Program in word form: Program_Geography_North_America_Europe-1p5q3zi

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