The beauty of having an immersive space at your fingertips is that you are able to transport your pupils back through time, space and location. You can allow them to empathise with people and situations they may not ever come in to contact with in their daily lives. What’s more, you can uncover, discover and dig deep into topics which are difficult to understand on the surface.
Evolution is just one of those subject, and with it added to the National Curriculum in recent years teachers are finding various ways to introduce and explore the topic.
We often say to our schools who have immersive spaces to not forget that it is a learning environment as much as their regular classroom. You can create fun activities with real impact within the spaces, not just as an introduction to a particular subject. Another things we often say is to remember to not be afraid to play in the space, bring other things in and add to immersive experience with props and activities.
Here’s a lovely activity we found on the Innovate My School website that you could do within an immersive space or in the classroom:
‘Fossil samples are a fantastic starting point for teaching about evolution as they are a physical thing that students can explore. Of course, for an even more hands-on lesson, you could ask learners to make their own!
For this activity, you can either make the dough in advance or give children time to make their own, as long as you don’t mind an extra messy classroom!
- Give small groups of children some fossil dough (you can find a brilliant recipe here).
- Place a selection of everyday objects such as cutlery, building blocks, jewellery, paint brushes or animal models on an investigation table.
- Get children to choose an object to make an imprint in their fossil dough. Encourage them to think carefully about how to make the impression so it isn’t too easy to guess.
- Once all the groups have made their imprint, display the fossils somewhere to be examined.
- Ask each group to take it in turns to guess what the fossils are.
- Once all of the guesses have been recorded, each group can reveal what their fossil is. There are bound to be some surprises!
You can encourage children to talk about the fossils they made. Is it easy or difficult to identify what made the imprints? Did everyone have the same or different ideas about what made the imprints?
Have a discussion about how easy or difficult it is to identify what real fossils show. Draw attention to the things fossils can’t tell us, like what colour something was. Can the children think of any problems with making predictions about ancient plants and animals from fossil evidence? At this point children could examine some real fossils and talk about what animals or plants might have made them.’
With this in mind it is also possible to reach other aspects of the curriculum in a cross pollinating way – look at the shapes and patterns made by the imprints (Maths), create wrapping paper from prints made (Art and Design), explore the geographical areas that dinosaur bones have been found (Geography), discuss types of foods that might have been eaten in the stone age (History)…the list goes on.
We feel it is vital to get the most of your immersive space is to reiterate learning done within it back in the class room and vice versa. Create a learning journey that integrates all the tools your school offers to have better impact and measurable outcomes for all involved.
To see more of the article from Innovate My School click here