Like most geography departments across the UK, our Year 7s complete a map skills unit within months of arriving at the school. This year, we made it as engaging as possible, drawing lines of latitude and longitude drawn in chalk on the playground, bringing out OS maps of their local area, and using GIS to bring maps to life. However, the end of the unit saw a need to reflect on what they’d learnt and to provide an opportunity for independent work. I’d seen the idea of the ‘Hand-Drawn OS Map’ on Twitter and thought it was worth a try!
The instructions were simple:
- The students had 1 hour to create an OS map of their hand.
- They needed to draw round their hand and then get thinking ̶ how could they recreate an OS map in this space that was as creative as possible?
- The essential components needed to remain: there needed to be a compass, a key and each symbol used had to be the correct OS map symbol (yes, I allowed them to miss out a scale ̶ the emphasis, after all, was on creativity at the end of a sometimes bland unit!).
The Year 7s loved the opportunity to be imaginative and inventive ̶ each map had an individual and unique slant. I had knuckles as mountain peaks (carefully plotted with contour lines), I had veins as rivers, and finger nails as areas of coniferous woodland! They were focused and hard-working in their quest to complete their task within an hour, yet many took them home to complete, wanting to produce their best possible piece of work.
At a time when many of my lessons seem to be about packing in content, reinforcing keywords and preparing for assessments, this activity was a lovely opportunity to see creative and imaginative Year 7s at their best! Of course, these pieces of work now make for a great classroom display too.
Kate Stockings completed her PGCE at the University of Cambridge 2014-2015. She joined Roding Valley High School as an NQT in September 2015 and took over as Head of Department in June 2016. Follow Kate on Twitter.