In this work, the teacher wanted to link visual arts with geography, in a way that also connected to the overall class theme of ‘An English Country Garden’. Children created their own ‘secret garden’ map using ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett as a model text for the children to take some inspiration from.
To begin with, the children split into two groups and walked through the school. Children were given a choice of producing maps using different mediums in order to further increase the children’s engagement. The children were excited by this and made the most of their freedom, drawing various features in varying detail to produce creative maps.
The next part of the task was for the children to create their secret garden map. As a class, children discussed – along with visual stimulation ideas from the teacher – what you might find in a secret garden which resulted in a list on the whiteboard. With these ideas in mind, the children produced maps of their personal secret gardens. This activity was accessible to all children of all abilities were engaged.
When the maps were complete, children shared their maps with a partner and explained it verbally. Some children then shared in front of the class, including some children who were normally quite quiet in class.
Moving on to the writing, the teacher wanted pupils to take time to write their ideas down and include effective vocabulary without losing focus. A modelled text, in which the teacher described their own secret garden and then asked the children to choose adjectives or verbs to accompany the nouns in their secret garden. The children started editing their map with some descriptors and writing ideas down. Children were encouraged to be as creative as possible with descriptions, resulting in interesting phrases like ‘seaweed green vines’, ‘pea-green grass’, ‘candyfloss clouds’ and ‘lipstick-pink peonies!’
To give the children some structure they were asked to write a number of sentences each featuring a particular piece of language: a fronted adverbial or an expanded noun phrase After a couple of sentences, they could finish their description independently before children swapped books and peer-assessed. They were checking that their partner had followed the sentence rules and if they had missed something out, they would work together to include it.
Every child improved their description and the class spoke a lot about the impact of a good description. Children were clearly excited about effective vocabulary and their confidence in writing was improved.
Good for: Descriptive Writing