Rainforest challenge inspires impressive work

Pocklington Prep School Pupils facepaintingLearning about rainforest life and the risks to its ecosystem inspired Year 5 children to lead their response to a week-long challenge to Help the Yanomami People of the Rainforest.

Senior school pupils visited the Prep to tell Year 5s about the Yanomami tribe, who live a relatively isolated existence in the rainforests and mountains on the Brazil/ Venezuela border. Their way of life is under threat from loggers who are cutting down their rainforests, and the older pupils set Year 5 the challenge of coming up with ideas to halt the destruction.

Pocklington Pre-Prep Pupil looks at her facepainting in a mirrorThe pupils first immersed themselves in Yanomami culture for the day, with face painting, headdress-making, tasting and learning about rainforest foods and comparing tribe members’ daily life to ours. Pre-School children spent this day with the Year 5s and joined in the fun.

The class then discussed what they could do to help the Yanomami people preserve their way of life. All agreed to:

  • Write a letter to persuade the Brazilian government to cease logging in the area (useful in improving their English skills and knowledge)
  • Create an information page about deforestation (improving their English and Geography skills and knowledge)
  • Map out a Yanomami village, Haximu, giving precise mathematical data of the area and perimeter of their huts (improving Maths knowledge and skills)

The children also rose to the challenge of optional tasks of drawing portraits of rainforest animals or people (Art); exploring rainforest biodiversity (Science); looking at statistical data about rainforests (Maths) or writing a song or rap about the plight of the Yanomami people (Music).

Working in pairs or threes, the children mapped out their own learning for the week, timetabling when and who would tackle each task. They had access to iPads and PCs at certain points, with teachers available to guide and support their progress.

The topic was further brought to life by a trip to Flamingo Land for a hands-on 'Rainforest Experience,' which involved meeting rainforest snakes and learning more about their habitat, the threats it faces and potential solutions.

Pocklington Prep school girls facepaintingParents were invited to see the children’s Rainforest Showcase, where each group displayed and presented their week’s work. Fantastic art, models and displays were complemented by performances of songs and raps inspired by their new-found knowledge.

Pupils’ comments included:

"We like having the responsibility of work together and plan our own learning."

"It has been really good for us to organise own time and decide when we are going to get everything ready."

"We have had the freedom to choose how to complete tasks and when - we feel like Sixth-formers"

"I loved the real-life experiences, hands-on learning on the trip and at school all week. I know so much about these tribespeople and their rainforest now"

Year 5 teacher Cath Sweeting said: “The children worked together to produce some amazing, thoughtful and well-researched work which impressed both teachers and parents. Throughout the week they also demonstrated the Pocklington values we all share, especially resilience, enquiry, creativity, reflection and collaboration. Well done everyone.”