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YEAR 3 (1)


Primary Level geography

For a summary of the main areas covered in the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 click here

In the primary years, it can help to divide the study up into three main areas: map work, study for locational knowledge (which are obviously closely related), and physical geography (essentially, tectonic, meteorological and geomorphological processes – though you don’t need to use these terms with your children at an early age). Some of these topics lend themselves quite well to project/lapbook work, and the nice thing about this is that you don’t need ‘school books’ with exercises – you just need ‘fact’ books which are available free at the library (or information which is free on the ‘Net). Nonetheless, I’ve suggested a few books below in case, like me, you feel happier with some basic texts to work from as guides.

For map work you’ll obviously need a large world map (stick it on the wall and discuss geography over mealtimes), a decent globe if possible, and a very good, up to date atlas (a children’s atlas which has not only maps but also information about countries). All the major publishers offer primary level atlases: you can choose from Oxford, Collins, Usborne, DK etc., but it is a good idea to choose one in which the maps (rather than the country-specific information) are more prominent: some are full of glossy pictures and cultural information but not so good for locational knowledge.   We have also found the following useful for getting a start in map reading : Kingfisher Young Discoverers ‘Maps and Mapping‘, ‘Where am I?’ by A.G. Smith and the Ladybird book Understanding Maps’ – we have the old version of this which is small and a little dated but actually goes to quite an advanced level. The history of cartography is fascinating in itself and we have found ‘Maps’ by Harvey Weiss useful for explaining this to young children.

For locational knowledge we simply use the atlas to create a lapbook/project for each specified area. We start with a basic map of the world with the continents and oceans marked (you could easily do this at age 5 or 6 if your child was interested). For each continent we make a very simple map marking only the most obvious things (capital city, major rivers and mountains). Next we look at Europe in more detail, then we focus on the UK. After this we go through each of the remaining continents in more detail (see the schedule for more detail). If you choose to do a UK project and want to go into more depth, there are a few series available devoted just to the study of this country. One such is ‘Mapping Britain’s Landscape’. This covers various aspects such as rivers, hills and mountains, coasts and towns and is suitable for ages 7/8 – 10/11. We used the website ‘Project Britain’ as a main source.

It’s a good idea to have a book just devoted to flags as many children seem to be fascinated by these. Some books simply give you the flag and the country name (such as Collins ‘My First Book of World flags’) but others give you much more of the background to the history of how the various flags developed. We have used the DK Eyewitness book  ‘Flag’ for this kind of background. We have also learned a lot (and enjoyed) this game, ‘Flags of the World’. You’ll be amazed how many flags you can learn to recognise when there’s a game to be won!

For physical geography, the Kingfisher Young Discovers series which we use for mapping also covers  Weather and Climate,  Mountains and Volcanoes, and  Rivers and Oceans. These are nice little books, all with some hands on experiments (there is a science range too: see Primary Science). They are aimed at a very young age, though, and would probably only be of use from about ages 6 -9. The ‘Geography Fact Files series’ is aimed more at 9/10+ and includes Rivers, Mountains, OceansCoastlines and more. These or similar books should be available in your local library.

I’ve also found that since my children love history, some of them have very much enjoyed creating a project (or several) about the history of exploration. If you can fit this is in, it is very worthwhile, bringing in as it does map-work, locational knowledge and a great deal of history all at the same time (plus you get to read all those amazing stories about the explorers themselves). We found the DK Atlas of Exploration useful as a way of organising the information as it studies exploration chronologically: this ties in with history well and seems easier to use as a base than books which work either by geographical area or individual explorers. Having said that, the DK book is not very detailed and to flesh it out we have used the Usborne Book of Explorers. DK also publish another book entitled Explorer which has been recommended to me but which we’ve not actually used. There is a very rich seam of books on this topic available so it is worth researching on the ‘Net and following up any particular interests your child develops. Some stories, such as those of Shackleton or Scott, are quite inspiring and worth following up in more detail through biographies or story books such as ‘Ice Trap!: Shackleton’ Incredible Expedition




Map work (use of globe, simple directions and 4 compass points).

Locational knowledge (create maps of World and Europe to study)

Physical geography: earthquakes and volcanoes (tectonic processes)


Ages 7-8

(A) Map work and locational knowledge:  The World; Europe

(B) Physical geography: Earthquakes and Volcanoes (tectonic processes)


(A)  Map work and locational knowledge (World; Europe)

(i)   Familiarity with reading a map of the world and use of a globe to identify continents, oceans and familiar countries. Understand how to use simple compass directions (North, South, East and West) and locational and directional language. Study simple location of features and routes on a local road map.


(Suggested reading/resource books: Kingfisher Young Discoverers ‘Maps and Mapping’; ‘Maps’ by Harvey Weiss (which ends with a make-your own map exercise); ‘Where am I?’ by Smith; relevant chapters in Ladybird’s ‘Understanding Maps’).


(ii)  Create your own map of the world:

– identify the world’s seven continents, five oceans/seas (Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, Pacific, Southern Ocean, mountain ranges (e.g. Andes, Himalayas, Rockies) and rivers (Amazon, Mississippi, Nile, Yangtze, Ganges)

–  identify the position and significance of latitude, longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Discuss the Arctic and Antarctic Circle, Poles, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night).

(use a globe if possible as well as a 2D map)


(ii) Create a map of Europe

(NB UK will be covered separately) –    Countries and their capitals:

  1. Norway (Oslo), Sweden (Stockholm), Finland (Helsinki), Denmark (Copenhagen), Iceland (Reykjavik) Republic of Ireland (Dublin)
  2. Spain (Madrid), Portugal (Lisbon), France (Paris), Andorra (Andorra la Vella); Belgium (Brussels), Luxembourg (Luxembourg City), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Berlin)
  3. Italy (Rome), [Vatican City (Vatican City); San Marino (San Marino); Malta (Valletta); Monaco (Monaco)]; Switzerland (Bern), Austria (Vienna), Liechtenstein (Vaduz); Hungary (Budapest), Czech Republic (Prague), Slovakia (Bratislava)
  4. Slovenia (Ljubljana), Croatia (Zagreb), Bosnia Herzegovina (Sarajevo); Macedonia (Skopje), Albania (Tirana); Montenegro (Podgorica);
  5. Greece (Athens); Bulgaria (Sofia); Romania (Bucharest); Ukraine (Kiev); Moldova (Chisinau); Turkey (Ankara)
  6. Poland (Warsaw), Belarus (Minsk); Latvia (Riga), Lithuania (Vilnius), Estonia (Tallinn), European Russia (Moscow)


–   Seas: Mediterranean (also Baltic Sea, Norwegian Sea, Black sea, North Sea, English Channel)

–   Rivers:  Rhine, Seine, Danube, Volga

–   Mountains:   Alps, Pyrenees, Apennines (also Scandinavian, Caucasus, Carpathians)


(B)   Physical geography: Earthquakes and Volcanoes (tectonic processes)


The basic structure of the Earth; tectonic plates; what causes earthquakes and volcanoes

YEAR 3 (3)


Aim: To have a broad outline of world history and geography.


Nature Study/ Geography

Weekly nature walks ang journaling in nature notebook. Research plants, insects, birds, animals, rivers, trees, flowers, habitats. Draw landscapes; look at farming in the local area, directions, sun and starts, weather diary.

Geography – weather Geography- topics to cover using ‘Earth, geography of our planet’ and discover and learn geography, library books. Plus nature walks

Notes on geography from BBC bitesize as a rough idea for topics to look at and discuss. Use lots of library books for these, plus