Making a splash for World Ocean Day

Incorporating topics related to the environment and sustainability in schools’ curriculums is a topic that is gaining more and more attention in the world of education – and rightfully so. It can be difficult to know where to begin; nearly one in five teachers in the USA say they have avoided addressing topics linked to climate change in the classroom due to feeling out of their depths and unfamiliar with the science behind climate change. 

Knowing where to find the best resources to support your teaching about the environment, and how to leverage these resources to best suit your pupils, can boost your own confidence in the classroom whilst adding a lot of enjoyment to the pupils’ experience.

Keeping up to date with upcoming awareness days and (inter)national celebrations can be a helpful starting point, as organisers behind these events often produce materials aimed for use in the classroom. 

Websites such as World Ocean Day for Schools offer a resources library, with a function that allows you to filter activities by age-range, duration, topic and even languages – offering the potential to cross over with any language lessons that might be taking place, for pupils of all ages.

Cheam Fields Primary Academy in Sutton has been looking ahead to World Ocean Day as a school community for some time. Each year group, from Reception to Year 6, will be getting involved with an array of activities. 

World Ocean Day, which takes place on 8 June 2023, aims to inform the population about the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and to mobilise and unite everyone on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

The Reception pupils will be learning about animals living in the seas and making their own ‘class ocean’ – recreating life under the sea through role play and the use of recyclable materials. Pupils from Years 1 and 2 will be working to solve the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean, with the children designing posters raising awareness of critical topics, such as overfishing, pollution, and the effect of plastics on marine life. 

Crossover with other subjects, such as ICT, can help students to push their skillsets further; Year 2 pupils will be creating their own interactive map drawing attention to the negative impacts of plastic pollution on marine wildlife. The map will feature sound recordings of the children’s voices as they adopt the persona of sea creatures warning humans about harmful plastics. 

Meanwhile, Cheam Fields’ Year 6 classroom will become a mini animation studio, as the pupils produce a cartoon about apex predators in the Southern and Antarctic Oceans.

Allowing pupils’ innate creativity and imagination to shine through will go a long way in keeping pupils engaged to learn about difficult topics in a positive way. Turning such lessons into a celebration is also a wonderful way to bring the school community together and provide opportunities for pupils to share with one another what they have been learning on the same topic. 

For instance, each of the academy’s year groups will be plumbing the depths of different oceans. Cheam Fields will also have plenty of ocean-themed creations adorning our walls for weeks to come, demonstrating the pupils’ hard work.

Celebrating days like World Ocean Day brings science lessons to life for pupils by drawing attention to real-world issues. This can in turn present benefits for the wider school community as it provides inspiration for everyone to examine steps they can take in school and at home to reduce their environmental impact. 

Receiving support from LEO Academy Trust helps to make this a reality, particularly in the form of empowering school leaders with numerous workshops during our 2022 Trust Conference on the theme of ‘Sustainability’. Keeping staff and pupils aware of environmental issues ensures that we all share one vision to have a positive impact on the world around us.

This is a blog post. Laura Weeks, a Year 6 teacher at Cheam Fields Primary Academy (part of LEO Academy Trust), wrote this.

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