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

This collection of Funky Facts from Go Jetters focuses on South America, a continent that has the world’s largest river by volume, the River Amazon; the longest mountain range, the Andes; the highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca; and the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezuela.

The largest country in South America is Brazil, where most of the Amazon rainforest can be found.

Two of these clips are set in Brazil, in very contrasting environments.

One clip introduces us to the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon, and we learn something about the delicate balance of nature in this diverse place.

The other clip takes us to the bustling Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, where we are introduced to the music, dance and spectacle of their famous, annual carnival.

The third clip is set on Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, where we learn about the mysterious stone statues of heads that can be found there. This remote island in the south-east Pacific is more than 3000 kilometres from mainland South America and has Chilean sovereignty.

These three clips give a taste of the mystery and diversity of this southern continent.

Amazon Rainforest
Rio Carnival, Brazil
Easter Island

Teacher Notes

Before Watching

  • Find out what pupils know about South America. Do they know where it is? Can they name any places or countries you would find there?
  • Most of South America lies within the tropics. Discuss with pupils what the term tropical means and find the tropics on a globe. Explain that the tropics is an area of the world that can be found either side of the Equator.
  • 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 South America. Ask pupils to describe its location and discuss how it is joined through a narrow piece of land to North America.
  • Practice globe tossing games with blow-up globes and ask pupils to identify continents and point to South America when they catch it. Older children could identify some countries within this continent and the oceans that surround it.

After Watching

  • South America

    • Discuss how you would travel from the UK to different points on South America and how long it would take. Discuss how you might get to the extreme tip of South America for example, noting how far it is and how long that might take from the UK.
    • Using a globe, ask pupils to help you find and identify the different countries in South America that the Equator passes through.
    • Use maps and atlases, as well as aerial imagery, to find and talk about major features such as the Amazon and the Andes mountains.
    • Read a selection of story and non-fiction books about life in different countries and places within South America and add them to a class map.
  • Amazon

    • Ask pupils to look at images of the Amazon from space with you and discuss the colours you can see. Talk about how large this area is and how much of the continent it seems to cover.
    • Look at images of life inside a rainforest and ask pupils what they think it might feel like to be in one.
    • Create a large class map of South America out of collage materials to show the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains and the River Amazon. Mark in some major cities too.
    • Look at other large areas of rainforest around the world and talk about how they are mostly found within the Tropics. It’s helpful to introduce a spatial element, using globes, from early years to reinforce the idea that where places are matters.
    • Create a rainforest in a shoebox or in a corner of the classroom as a play area. Find out which animals you might find in the Amazon rainforest and add pupils’ drawings and models.
    • Compare some mini-beasts you might find in the Amazon with some that you have found in the school grounds.
    • Discuss why places like the Amazon Rainforest are special and how we could look after them better.
  • Rio de Janeiro

    • Find Rio de Janeiro on a map. Do a virtual visit to this city using Google Earth. Discuss with pupils its coastal setting and other features such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the high-rise buildings, Sugarloaf Mountain and cable cars.
    • Discuss the meaning of carnival and pupils’ experiences of this.
    • Brainstorm with pupils some of the things you might need for a successful carnival. You could watch the full Rio carnival Go Jetters’ video clip and / or find some images of this event to look at online.
    • Make carnival masks, create some music and plan a procession in or around the school grounds. Use fieldwork to decide what the safest route would be and make a map.
    • Older children could research their own Funky Facts about this city.
  • Easter Island

    • Find Easter Island on a map and look at some images of the famous statues, or ‘Moai’ as they are known.
    • Discuss with pupils what it would be like to visit a remote island like this and ask them to explain why they would like to visit.
    • Ask pupils to create their own Moai statues, using modelling clay.
    • Introduce compasses and practice finding North. Introduce other directions: East, South and West and make up a class pneumonic to help pupils remember the sequence.
    • Get pupils to make their own play compasses and mark in NSEW.
    • Paint a compass on the playground floor and mark the direction of North, East, South and West.

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 you think the people on Easter Island built their Moai or statues?
  • Why don’t you get tropical rainforests in the Arctic or Antarctic?
  • Who should look after the Amazon Rainforest?

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

  • Play some simple orienteering games out of doors using compasses.
  • Investigate Go Jetter stories from other countries in South America such as Machu Picchu, Peru; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia and Peru; Tepui Mountains, Venezuela; and Gliding, Argentina.

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.