By Kate Heap
A number of years ago, my Year 6 class included a number of children for whom English was an additional language and who had never had the experience of being out on the water in a boat of any kind.
I knew they may struggle with the vocabulary and concepts of Kensuke’s Kingdom. In response to this challenge, we decided to take the children to our local sailing club for a day of sailing experiences, vocabulary development and survival role play. It has since become a regular (and popular) part of the school’s Year 6 Literacy plans.
- To give children an experience of sailing to support their understanding of the novel Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
- Help children to develop empathy for the main character, Michael
- Develop vocabulary around sailing, ocean, weather, island, survival
- Teach children the basic needs for survival
- Develop team-building and personal resilience at the beginning of Year 6
During the day, the children took part in three sessions. They were given a booklet to enhance their understanding of the various activities and to hold any notes and sketches.
The first activity was sailing itself. This was incredibly empowering for the children. Many were nervous but once they were out on the water, the freedom and joy they found was amazing. Their confidence, pride and sense of teamwork flourished. The sailing centre staff made a greatly appreciated effort to read the book ahead of time and strived to use as much vocabulary from the story as possible. They chatted with the children throughout the experience and referenced the story as often as they could.
The children came away with an in-depth, practical understanding of the sailing and marine elements of the book which was invaluable.
Finally, the children took part in a vocabulary and poetry session on the shore. With a focus on being intentional and specific with their word choices, the children sat quietly to take in their environment. The adults encouraged them to jot down a wide variety of words, thinking about nouns, verb, adjectives and adverbs linked to water, waves, wind, weather and sky.
Linking Literacy with OAA was more successful than we could ever have imagined. The empowerment of adventure, the depth of the conversations and the focus on teambuilding as the children worked together on something completely new contributed to love for fantastic novel, respect for the outdoors and elements of survival, and inspired the children to write with rich language and detail. Every child, especially those with EAL or who had lower Literacy skills, progressed and surpassed our expectations.
I encourage every teacher to look for OAA links in their Literacy units. Thinking beyond the classroom helps to create a meaningful, vibrant and engaging curriculum that is memorable and inspiring for our students.
For more information, you may wish to visit the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom website. https://www.lotc.org.uk/ •
Kate is an experienced Primary English Specialist from Leeds. She is passionate about helping children to be inspired by their learning through adventure and imagination. She is skilled in supporting colleagues in their professional development, creating meaningful cross-curricular English plans and linking English objectives, lessons and resources to the rigorous Key Stage Two assessment requirements. Kate is also an author for teachers with her book, Classics for Key Stage Two, to be published in 2020. Read more from Kate on her blog: www.scopeforimagination.co.uk and follow her on Twitter (@KateHeap1)
All Through Learning
Ann Marie Christian
Just Do It
Mindfulness – It Starts With Us Teachers
Social Media In School
Teaching And Learning