Core units: F-4 — Inquiry and Skills

Illustration 1: Investigate places in which we live – Year F

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography (and its various HASS-based iterations) content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The representation of the location of places and their features on maps and a globe
  • The places people live in and belong to, their familiar features and why they are important to people
  • Represent the location of features of a familiar place on pictorial maps and models

Learning goals

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • locating, observing and describing familiar features of the place in which students live using Google Earth
  • drawing maps or constructing models representative of the place in which students live.

Geographical understanding and context

This illustration for Foundation year supports students to identify the places they live in and belong to, and to describe the features of their own place. They also explore other places that are familiar to them or that they are aware of (for example, places they have visited, places that family members have come from, imaginary places in stories or places featured on television). There is a growing spatial awareness as the child's interactions with the world around them expand.

As students increasingly explore the place they live in and belong to, they learn to observe and describe the features of these places. Learning about their own place and the development of an association or connection with it contributes to their sense of identity and belonging. This, in turn, contributes to a growing appreciation of why and how they should look after and care for places.

The idea of location (a part of the concept of space) is introduced in Year F through the drawing of simple pictorial maps to show where places and features are located, and by learning about the globe as a representation of the earth on which places can be located. The emphasis in Foundation is on the places in which students live, but they also start to investigate other places with which they are familiar or that they are curious about.

In this illustration we focus on locating, observing and describing places familiar to students using photographic images sourced from Google Earth. This introduces students to the idea that the earth can be represented as a globe on which places can be located. It enables students to explore their school grounds and neighbourhood from a perspective that is new to them. The knowledge is then applied in drawing a simple pictorial map or constructing a model.

This activity is closely related to the Foundation year Exemplars, Illustration 1: Making a model of a place like mine and Illustration 2: Mental maps.

Teaching approaches

To implement the activities featured in this illustration you will need access to a computer loaded with Google Earth software, and an interactive whiteboard or a data projector. If the computers don't have the software required you can download Google Earth from the Internet and install the program.

On launching the Google Earth software a screen will appear that is split into two parts. On the left side is the navigation panel. On the right side is the main image window.

Your students are not expected to use Google Earth themselves. In this activity you will facilitate access to the technology, and steps you might take are shown below.

1. Finding your school
Enter a search for the school into the navigation panel. Once the school is displayed on the screen you are ready to commence the lesson. It is important that students observe this preparatory phase of the activity as is builds an appreciation that the globe is a representation of the earth on which places can be located. Talk to your students about the globe and point out the location of Australia and the place in which they live. Ask your student to watch as Google Earth zooms in on the school.

Explain to your students that this is a 'bird's-eye' view of the school. Ask them to explain what this means.

2. Exploring school features
Ask your students to locate and name features of the school that would be familiar to them. They might, for example, identify the school's front gate, the playing fields, their classroom, the canteen and library. A map of the school could be used to reinforce the relationship between maps and a 'bird's-eye' perspective. Discuss with students the shape and arrangement of the school buildings and talk about how the aerial view differs from the ground-level perspective they are familiar with.

3. Exploring the local area
Once students have familiarised themselves with the features of the school you could pan out Google Earth to reveal the area surrounding the school. Ask students to identify features of the local area that may be familiar to them. Examples might include neighbourhood shops, sporting fields and the local swimming pool.

4. Expanding investigations
Depending on the nature of the school community, it may now be possible to locate the homes of individual students. This could be completed as part of your lesson preparation. Use Google Earth 'placemarks' to 'tag' each student's home. Zoom in on each student's home. Pan out to see the distribution of homes across the neighbourhood. Discuss who lives closest to the school and who lives the furthest away. Talk about the places students might be familiar with near their home. Locate these using Google Earth.

5. Exploring differences with other places
Use Google Earth to show your students the 'bird's-eye' view of iconic buildings that they might be familiar with. For example, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the MCG and Parliament House in Canberra. Discuss why these structures are important and what shape they are. How does their shape differ from the buildings that make up the school? Visit other structures nominated by students.

6. Making maps and models
While viewing the aerial image of the school, ask your students to draw a map of the school showing its buildings and playground. Have them colour their classroom a special colour. Get them to identify which building is the library and which is the canteen. Students could also construct a model of the school using blocks. They could position the blocks to match the arrangement of the buildings.

What you need

Computer loaded with Google Earth software.
Access to the Internet.
Interactive whiteboard or data projector.

Time allocation: 3 x 30-minute blocks of time.