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Year 5 and The Silk Road

22 September 2014

As part of their work on their Themed Learning topic of the Silk Road, 5U are completing a wall display of the famous route and are using it to create their own individual maps. 5U class Teacher Ms McMullen explains what the children have been doing.

Students from 5U working on their maps and Year 5 students' dioramas created for homework, each child researched any scene or town along the Silk Road that appealed to them

We have been having a lot of fun and learning a huge amount by making our own maps of the Silk Road. We’re creating a key and an eight point compass rose to make our map a useful reference. While we initially drew a physical map, we are now cross-referencing our map with political maps, marking the major cities and using the correct geographical terms to place them on a map.

We are also learning archaic and modern place names, noting how they change (e.g. Peking for Beijing). Generally the silk routes linked these major cities, so we are looking for clues as to why the cities were settled where they were. There are some sheltered harbours that linked with maritime trade routes, some that are near water and others that avoid major physical obstacles like the Himalayas. There may be other reasons we’ve yet to consider!

In order to show these physical features on our individual maps we are creating relief maps which show the (approximate) altitude of each bit of the land and we have created contour lines to layer off different elevations.

We’ve had to work out a scale (well done to Jagat who realised each layer of cardboard should represent 500m increments rather than 100m increments, as otherwise we’d have been using 80 layers of cardboard to create Everest!) and are using tracing and transfer techniques to make sure our maps are accurate and to scale.

A huge thank you to everyone who has sent in cardboard to help us create our models –they are starting to look great!

Here is what the children said about the project:

“We’re really excited to be making the relief map because my favourite subject is art and we get to make a 3D model, but it’s Geography too because I now could remember the route of the Silk Road without looking and also because I know about cities and rivers and things too.” Sofia

"We’ll learn more about the geography of Asia and Europe. We’re learning terms like ‘contour’, ‘sea level’ and ‘altitude’! We’re also using words like East and West more. I’m most excited to paint it and make the silk routes out of thread, including the maritime trading routes.” Ada

“Oh! I get it. Some maps show you stuff by people, and other maps show you stuff that’s just there. Why are there rivers on political maps then? That doesn’t make sense.” Aayush

This is a project that will last the whole term and soon we’ll move to a more historical focus and start learning about the ancient cultures and primary/secondary resources that inform us about the past.

This theme is also linking up to our science classes in which we are learning about explosions as gun powder travelled down the Silk Road. It should be pointed out though that the explosions will not ACTUALLY be gunpowder!

- Ms McMullen, Year 5 Class Teacher

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