EYFS / KS1 Geography: Go Jetters - Continent of North America

This collection of Funky Facts from Go Jetters focuses on North America, a continent found entirely within the northern hemisphere.

In these clips, we explore iconic landmarks within the United States (US), one of North America’s larger countries.

We are introduced to the iconic Statue of Liberty, built on Liberty Island in New York harbour as a symbol of welcome, and we find out some facts about this city’s famed green space known as Central Park.

The third clip introduces an iconic landmark in the US carved out by the power of nature and the Colorado River: the magnificent Grand Canyon.

Statue of Liberty, New York
Central Park, New York
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Teacher Notes

Before Watching

  • Find out what pupils know about North America. Do they know where it is? Can they name any places or countries you would find there?
  • Find out what pupils know about New York, the Statue of Liberty or Central Park. Has anyone heard of these places or been there? Has anybody heard of the Grand Canyon?
  • Give pupils an outline map of the continent and ask them to draw and write features inside that they think they might find there.
  • Recap the continents of the world and use a globe to find and name North America. Ask pupils to describe its location on the globe and discuss how North America is joined through a narrow piece of land to South America.
  • Practice globe tossing games with blow-up globes and ask pupils to identify continents and point to North America when they catch it. Older children could identify countries within this continent and the oceans that surround it.

After Watching

  • North America

    • Discuss how you would travel from the UK to North America and how long it would take. Discuss the difference between travelling to different cities such as New York (United States), Vancouver (Canada) and Mexico City (Mexico) to indicate how vast this continent is. Compare different ways you might travel and discuss which ways are better for the environment.
    • Collect and show some images as a class that reveal some of the diversity of this continent from the frozen north to the tropical south. Locate them using a large map.
    • Share any holiday photographs from pupils who have visited countries in North America such as Disney World, Florida, US and add them to a map along with other images.
    • Using a large map, or an atlas, ask pupils to help you find some major features such as the Rocky Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes etc.
    • Read a selection of story and non-fiction books about life in different countries and places within North America and add them to a class map.
  • Statue of Liberty

    • Discuss the meaning of tricky vocabulary such as ‘liberty’.
    • Find New York and its harbour on a map. Find out some Funky Facts about harbours and why they attract visitors.
    • Ask pupils to make models of the Statue of Liberty out of modelling clay or junk materials. Make a simple map of New York Harbour with Liberty Island and site the model. Provide small- scale play figures and boats for imaginative play.
    • Design your own welcoming statue for your school or class area. Do some fieldwork to decide where to site it so that your visitors can easily see it. Use a compass to work out which direction it should face.
  • Central Park

    • Use aerial imagery to observe and talk about some of the features of Central Park. Use this as a stimulus for artwork.
    • Create a model or map of Central Park surrounded by skyscrapers for imaginative play.
    • Discuss if and why Central Park is a good idea. Should all big cities have parks like this?
    • Brainstorm all the different things you might be able to do in a park. What features should a good park have? Ask pupils to design their own park.
    • How important are trees for helping to keep us and the environment healthy? Carry out some fieldwork in the school grounds and map the trees that you find. Investigate with pupils if more trees should be planted in your school.
  • Grand Canyon

    • Discuss the meaning of tricky vocabulary such as ‘canyon’.
    • Find the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River on a map. Discuss what a river is and how they travel from high to low ground, most carrying water to the sea. Introduce terms ‘source’ and ‘mouth’. Use or visit a local river as an example if you have one.
    • Create your own river in a piece of plastic guttering set at an angle. Add sand, earth and gravel, add water slowly from the higher end and watch how it creates channels. Encourage pupils to experiment with sand and water play. Explain to pupils how water can wear away even hard rock over millions of years.
    • Look at videos showing the scale and beauty of this canyon such as those from the US National Park Service. Use videos and images to develop and discuss descriptive words and phrases as well as build geographical vocabulary.
    • Find stories to read about rivers.

Master Skills

  • Naming, describing and comparing people and places (people, landmarks and features).
  • Locating landmarks and features using paper or digital maps; globes and atlases.
  • Drawing comparisons and similarities between places.
  • Using first-hand experience and sensory exploration through fieldwork.

Thinking Questions

  • Why do people have signs and statues welcoming visitors?
  • Why do we need more trees and who should plant them?

Supported Learning and SEN

  • Children could work in pairs or mixed ability groupings so that they benefit from peer support.
  • Using photographs and artefacts to sort and talk about ideas can help some pupils express their thoughts more easily.
  • Use vocabulary cards to match to what can be seen and support language development.
  • Pupils’ ideas might be recorded using audio or video media as well as through writing.

Extend This Project

  • Investigate a local park to you and how it might be improved.
  • Investigate Go Jetter stories from other countries in North America such as Whistler Mountain, Canada; Chichen Itza, Mexico; and the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

Curriculum Notes

These short film clips contribute to the current national curriculum requirements in KS1 geography in England; the Foundation Stage World Around Us in Northern Ireland; the Foundation Phase Knowledge and Understanding of the World in Wales, and at Social Studies 1st level in Scotland.

The clips are especially pertinent to the Areas of Learning and subject requirements of geography but also provide opportunities to develop English and mathematics knowledge and skills in meaningful contexts across all UK curricula.

These clips and ideas will help develop pupils’ curiosity and build on their early experiences of the world around us.

The clips and ideas contribute to UK curricular aspects relating to cultural understanding, particularly with regard to people and places.