How to Follow Development Matters in Geography

Written by Dan

Last updated

The Development Matters framework guides early years practitioners in delivering an engaging and effective curriculum that fosters children’s development and learning.

This includes geography, an essential subject for helping young minds make sense of their surroundings and the wider world.

By following Development Matters in geography, educators can nurture a love for the subject, inspire natural curiosity, and provide a solid foundation for future learning in geography.

Related: For more, check out our article on What Has To be Taught In The Geography National Curriculum  here.

Geography development matters

Understanding how children develop and learn in geography is essential for planning age-appropriate activities and ensuring that learning is relevant and engaging.

The Development Matters framework outlines key concepts, locational knowledge, and how children develop geographically to make sense of their world.

By aligning planning and resources with Development Matters, practitioners can support children’s learning through hands-on experiences, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to understand the world around them while meeting the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • Development Matters provides guidance for geography education in early years settings, fostering curiosity and a strong foundation for future learning.
  • Aligning planning and resources with the framework ensures age-appropriate activities and support for children’s development in geography.
  • Hands-on experiences are crucial for embedding geography learning and meeting the EYFS requirements.

Related: For more, check out our article on The 10 best Geography Games Online here.

Understanding Early Years Geography

Fundamentals of Geography in EYFS

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of a child’s education, geography is an essential part of the curriculum.

It is crucial in helping young children develop a sense of place and understand their surroundings. Geography in EYFS is often incorporated into the broader area known as “Understanding the World” and focuses on building a solid foundation for future learning.

During this stage, children are encouraged to explore and observe their environment. They engage in activities such as map reading, creating simple geographical representations, and investigating real-life geographical issues.

In addition, many educators emphasise skills like problem-solving, observation, collaboration, and open-mindedness, which help young learners develop a range of transferable abilities that will benefit them throughout their academic journey and beyond.

Aligning with Development Matters Framework

The Development Matters Framework provides a guideline for the EYFS curriculum and is designed to support teachers and practitioners in assessing and planning learning opportunities for young children.

Regarding geography, it is vital to align content and objectives with the expectations outlined in the framework by incorporating relevant elements of children’s development.

In geography, the Development Matters Framework highlights several essential aspects of young children’s learning, such as exploring and engaging with their surroundings, using geographical vocabulary, understanding basic map concepts, and recognising natural features.

Educators looking to support the geographical learning of their EYFS students should plan activities that encourage them to develop these skills progressively, using the framework as a guiding resource.

With a confident, knowledgeable, and straightforward approach, educators can create engaging and fruitful learning experiences for young children in geography.

By integrating geography into the broader EYFS Understanding the World curriculum and closely following the Development Matters Framework, teachers and practitioners ensure a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning and discovery.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Teach Cultural Awareness In Geography here.

Key Concepts and Locational Knowledge

Geography is a subject that encompasses a variety of key concepts and locational knowledge. In this section, we will dive into the essential topics such as exploring space and place, and the role of scale and maps in geography.

Exploring Space and Place

Space and place are fundamental concepts in geography. Space refers to the abstract notion of the arrangement of objects and features on the Earth’s surface, while place pertains to a specific location with unique human and physical characteristics.

Locational knowledge can be acquired from different sources such as maps and globes. This knowledge helps students to understand where particular places are, providing them with a solid foundation in local, national, and global geography.

Educators can incorporate various teaching methods to enhance the understanding of space and place. Some suggestions include:

  • Using maps and globes: Encourage students to examine maps and globes, focusing on accurate locational knowledge of major countries, continents, and regions.
  • Exploring local and global cases: Introduce case studies that examine human-environment interactions, allowing learners to understand spatial relationships and how they impact communities and regions.

Introducing Scale and Maps

Scale is another critical concept in geography. It refers to the relationship between the size of an area on a map and its actual size on the ground. The comprehension of scale is essential for accurately interpreting and creating maps.

  • Employing different map types: Utilise various types of maps such as topographic, political, and thematic to explore different aspects of geography. This allows students to discern the utility of maps for different purposes.
  • Three different scales: Ensure students are exposed to local, national, and global scales in their studies. This exposure broadens their understanding of the spatial relationships across various regions.
  • Creating maps: Ask students to create their maps, varying the scales and types. This task enables them to meaningfully apply their knowledge of scale and locational details.

By incorporating these approaches in teaching, educators can help students develop a strong foundation in fundamental concepts and locational knowledge in geography.

Child Development and Geography Learning

Observation and Assessment

Observation plays a crucial role in understanding how children develop their geographical knowledge and skills. Educators should pay close attention to children’s interactions with their environment, discussions about places, and spatial thinking.

Through careful observation, teachers can assess their pupils’ development and identify areas requiring additional support or enrichment. This enables educators to create tailored learning experiences to promote inclusivity and accessibility in geography lessons.

Assessment in geography should be an ongoing process, encompassing both formative and summative elements.

Regular formative assessments can include activities such as evaluating group discussions, spatial awareness tasks or map work. On the other hand, summative assessments may involve end-of-unit tests or more comprehensive projects, capturing the progress made by the students.

Fostering Curiosity and Knowledge

One of the essential aspects of teaching geography in the early years is fostering curiosity and knowledge in young minds. This can be achieved by using various teaching strategies, such as:

  • Exploring the local environment: Engage children in exploring their immediate surroundings, taking them on walks and engaging in fieldwork activities for a hands-on learning experience. Not only does this promote a better understanding of geography concepts, but it also nurtures their sense of awareness and belonging.
  • Using visual aids: Introduce maps, atlases, and globes early in the learning process. These tools can help children develop essential map-reading skills and stimulate their interest in exploring the world around them.
  • Encouraging questions and discussions: Stimulate critical thinking by encouraging children to ask questions and engage in discussions about different places, their physical and human features, and the relationships between them. This enquiry-based approach is fundamental in developing a lifelong passion for geography.

Incorporating these strategies in teaching geography contributes to a strong foundation for cognitive, social, and emotional development in children.

By investing time and effort in observing and assessing children’s progress, as well as fostering curiosity and knowledge, educators can ensure that their pupils develop a strong understanding and appreciation of geography.

Planning and Resources

Early Years Geography Curriculum Planning

When planning the geography curriculum for early years, it is essential to align it with the Development Matters guidelines. This ensures that all pupils, including those in nursery schools and those taught by staff in nurseries, receive an age-appropriate and well-rounded education in geography.

Start by outlining the key topics and concepts to be covered throughout the academic year, focusing on big ideas such as location, distribution, patterns, and networks.

This can be achieved through creating a curriculum map or scheme of work, which will serve as a foundation for individual lesson plans.

It is crucial to consider pupils’ learning needs in different age groups. For example, Development Matters guides the geography education of three and four-year-olds and reception class pupils. Keep these age-related expectations in mind when planning geography lessons.

How To Create The Best Lesson Plan

Utilising Resources and Environment

To effectively teach geography in early years settings, make use of a variety of resources and tools. These may include:

  • Maps and globes: Introduce pupils to maps and globes, which will help them learn about the layout of continents, countries, and cities.
  • Books and multimedia resources: Offer age-appropriate books and digital resources on various geography topics. Supplement lessons with videos or animated presentations for a more immersive learning experience.
  • Field trips and outdoor exploration: Organise outings to nearby parks, nature reserves, or local landmarks to help pupils better understand their surroundings and foster a connection with the environment.
  • Hands-on activities and crafts: Encourage pupils to engage in hands-on learning experiences, such as making their maps or creating geographic features using various materials.

Collaborate with other teachers and staff in nurseries or nursery schools to share ideas and pool resources.

This will enrich the geography teaching experience for both educators and pupils alike. Planning thoughtfully and using available resources can make geography education in the early years engaging, relevant, and enjoyable for young learners.

Engagement and Practical Activities

Incorporating Play and Exploration

One way to follow the Development Matters in Geography is to incorporate play and exploration in the learning process. This approach enables students to actively engage with geographical information and better understand their surroundings.

Activities such as role-playing, map drawing, and multimedia presentations can help students explore different environments and geographical concepts.

For instance, students can be encouraged to:

  • Create a fictional island and map out its physical and human features
  • Take on the role of a town planner and design a sustainable neighbourhood
  • Use interactive digital maps to explore different countries and continents

These activities enable learners to link their personal experiences with the geographical content, promoting deeper engagement and understanding.

Outdoor Learning and Fieldwork Experience

Another essential aspect of following the Development Matters in Geography is providing students with fieldwork experiences. Outdoor learning and fieldwork help students to develop their observation and problem-solving skills, crucial for understanding real-world geographical contexts.

Possible fieldwork activities include:

  • Field trips to local habitats, parks, or urban areas
  • Nature walks where students can observe and record the physical features of their environment
  • Environmental data collection and analysis, such as measuring river flow or analysing soil samples
ActivitySkills Developed
Local Habitat ExplorationObservation, Data Collection, Analysis
Urban WalkMapping, Spatial Awareness, Sense of Place
Weather Data ProjectData Collection, Analysis, Presentation

Through these activities, students can experience the real-world application of geography, develop an appreciation for the natural and human features of the environment, and enhance their problem-solving abilities.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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