This was one of my absolute favourite topics to teach!
Our official termly topic was ‘Fairtrade – Brazil’ but when I talked to my class about it, they were totally fascinated by the Amazon Rainforest so it was a ‘no-brainer’ that our learning would be mainly built around this.
My amazing external mentor from my SCITT course had told me about how she had created a display of work with her mixed year 5 / 6 class a few years back and had ripped it down to highlight to them a little how it would feel for your home to be destroyed due to deforestation. She then used this as a stimulus for writing.
Our unit of work started with us creating our rainforest. The children spent two days researching and creating animals and plants that would live in the Amazon Rainforest. We then used all their work to create the most epic looking display ever!
Jonathan (see an earlier post if you have no idea who he is!) was, of course, part of the learning and was dressed by the children as a Tribe member / explorer!
We LOVED our rainforest so when the sad day came for it to be torn down, it really had a big effect on us all.
The morning began with our classroom being taped up and Mr S, the caretaker, having to go in ahead of us to check it was safe.
The children, who had to register in the hall, hypothesised about what could have happened. Was there a water leak? Had there been a burglary? Had someone stolen Jonathan? When Mr S. came to let us know that it was now safe for us to go in, we cautiously made our way down to our classroom.
Never could we have guessed the horror that awaited us!
A letter was found from Mr P. Max, head of PepsiCo. explaining that our rainforest had to be cut down to make room for a palm oil plantation! We were infuriated! But worse was yet to come…
In the middle of the floor, a hat lay all only. It was Jonathan’s hat …He was gone!
From this dramatic unit of work, the children wrote persuasive letters to Mr P. Max to outline the importance of switching over to sustainable sources of palm oil. The letters were amazing because the children felt like they had personally lost something.
We sent the letters off and awaited a response form PepsiCo!
The children were so engaged by the disappearance of Jonathan that here is where I make a confession!
(I wasn’t actually planning on his disappearance being a big deal! I had originally planned for him to return after the weekend. However, mainly due to the fact that most of the children spent their lunch breaks to make ‘lost’ posters for the school, I decided to jump on this!)
The disappearance of Jonathan became a major event in the world of Year 4!