Walk To School Week – Top 5 Activities for Teachers
This year's Walk To School Week runs from 20-24 May 2019. It's a special one, because it coincides with the 90th Anniversary of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking.
As part of their mission to get more children walking to school, this year, Living Streets has also conducted a survey about pollution around schools. The results are concerning, and have serious implications for schools. As you'll see further down, we've gathered the thoughts of some primary teachers about this.
Walk To School Week is a fantastic opportunity for teaching and learning about health and fitness with your primary school class.
But how can teachers link Walk To School Week to learning in a meaningful way?
Here at PlanBee, our former teachers have been thinking about some ways to do precisely that!
Our Top 5 activities and learning links for Walk To School Week 2019
Walking to school is beneficial for children and parents, alike.
Enjoying the mental and physical health benefits of walking are right at the heart of Walk To School Week. Briskly walking to school, rather than travelling by car or public transport, helps children feel fitter and happier.
Create opportunities in the classroom for children to discuss and share their experiences of walking to school. How does it make them feel? What do they notice on their walk? Who do they see as they walk through their community? What do they enjoy about it?
In PE, ask children to think about how they use their bodies when walking, and how it can affect their health. What happens to your breathing and your pulse when you walk briskly? Why are the effects of walking good for you? Do you notice improved fitness as a consequence of walking more?
Use maps and satellite images to:
- plan new walking routes;
- find and measure regular walking routes;
- and describe journeys using compass directions.
We love linking walking to Geography teaching and learning! If you're looking for some inspiration, we've included using maps and walking in your local area in these Map Makers lesson plans for Year 2.
You can link Maths Curriculum Objectives to Walk to School Week in a variety of ways. For example, you could use pedometers to collect data. You could also plan and conduct surveys about how children get to school then present the data using charts and graphs.
It’s easy to differentiate for every age group, too:
Key Stage One
Collect data about how all your children got to school each day with a show of hands. Record the results (e.g. walk, bus, taxi, driven, scooter, bicycle) on a tally chart. Children can then make pictograms to show the data, or use multifix maths cubes to physically make pictograms.
Lower Key Stage Two
Challenge children to write their own survey questions and make their own tally charts, collecting the data themselves. Plot the data at the end of the week using bar charts.
Upper Key Stage Two
Instruct your learners to collect data from other classes in school. Challenge them to compare their sets of data and plot them on line graphs for comparison.
Need some time-saving resources for brushing up on gathering and presenting data with your class? We have 14 complete Maths statistics lesson plan packs for KS1 and KS2.
Link Walk To School Week with local history by challenging children to identify local landmarks on their walk. Can they spot keystones in arches? Do they notice the years in which houses were built?
Is your local area home to some British History Heroes such as the significant historic figures we feature in these lesson plans for years 3/4? What evidence of their existence and their achievements can you spot on your walk to school?
Walk To School Week links brilliantly with exploring nature. Why not start a small scrapbook to record information about plants and animal species? It could include photos, plant sprigs, sketches or tables to record plant growth throughout the week.
Furthermore, you could encourage children to keep walking throughout the year by learning about what can be observed outside as the seasons change.
Living Streets – the charity behind Walk To School Week 2019
We love Living Streets' classroom packs and other resources – they're ideal for planning a five-day walking challenge in your school.
This year, their research found that 42% of parents are concerned about air pollution around their children's schools.
We wanted to know what educators and campaigners thought about this, too. The campaign group, Camden Air Action, have this to say on their blog:
WE NEED TO FIND ALTERNATIVES TO THE CAR BASED SCHOOL RUN. It puts children at risk both inside and outside the car, leads to dangerously manoeuvring traffic just outside schools, limits children’s physical activity before and after school.
Parking is a problem around our school. I'm CoG and see lots of parents parked up about 45 minutes before end of school, when weather cold, engine running, yards from children playing. The emissions from idling engine!
We ask parents to stop but....
— Neil "not santa" Eley ??? (@neileley) April 30, 2019
The most significant change to reduce air pollution around schools is to change the law and stop vehicle idling. An idling vehicle produces almost twice the emissions as a moving vehicle. Diesel engine exhaust is carcinogenic. Children and babies in buggies can be exposed to 60% more air pollution as they are closer to the vehicle exhaust pipe. Infants breathe three times the toxic air as an adult relative to their body weight. Yet there is no legal limit for the amount of time motorists can idle their vehicle engine, even outside a nursery/school. The £20 fine can only be issued by a council authorised person and only if the driver refuses to switch off when ask (which rarely happens). School streets only apply to side roads and even then will take years to implement at the schools that meet the criteria but if we collectively say #NO2idling we reduce air pollution, climate change and immediately improve children's health.
It's clearer now, than ever, that promoting exercise, and reducing travel by car, in particular, is vital for our children's health and wellbeing.
Walk To School Week is a fantastic opportunity for schools and teachers to do just that.