Welsh teaching aid proves a hit with California pupils

Pupils from Paloma Elementary School in Temecula
Image caption Pupils from a school in California have been 'rejuvenated' by the project

Children in California are learning about where they live with the help of a teaching aid developed in Wales.

My Square Mile, which was first used in Swansea in 2005, is designed to help pupils explore the buildings and spaces around their school.

A class at Paloma Elementary School in Temecula started using the aid after their teacher was shown it by a friend.

The Design Commission for Wales, which developed My Square Mile, said it was delighted to see it used in the USA.

'Beautiful place'

Paloma school teacher Mary Jimenez said she fell in love with the concept and it had "rejuvenated" her pupils.

"It was amazing showing this to my pupils and seeing them 'oooh' and 'aaah' over the Welsh buildings shown on the disc," she said.

"They simply loved being transported to a beautiful place far away.

"The next step for us is to do a walking field trip around the perimeter of Paloma's neighbourhood, stopping along the way to sketch as we go."

She said that it was used by her second and third grade pupils, aged seven to nine.

My Square Mile enables children to study places and spaces in their local area, with an eye on design, and can involve visits from architects and artists.

It was piloted by 33 primary schools in Swansea but is now used by schools across Wales.

'Absolutely delighted'

Carole-Anne Davies, chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales, said: "It has been hugely popular in Wales and we've had to produce more than we ever planned to make available.

"I am absolutely delighted that it has not only crossed borders but continents, and that it's been so warmly embraced by our friends in the States is just great.

"The images of Welsh houses, streets and townscapes will be very different from those in Temecula, but the principles behind the project are the same."

The Design Commission for Wales, which was established in 2002 by the Welsh Government, champions high standards of design and architecture.

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