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John Muir: beneath our feet
Subject area: Sciences, social studies
Experiences and outcomes: SOC 2-08a, SCN 2-01a, SCN 2-17a
The aim of this lesson is to explore, discover and observe not only the landscape around your school but also to find out what the actual rocks are beneath your feet!
Begin by reading together the first part of the Let's Go West section of the John Muir graphic novel, up to page 44, to discover how John Muir travelled in an ox cart to Wisconsin, which 'felt as bumpy as the ship on a stormy sea' as they crossed 'swamps and trackless hills' until they saw their hut in a 'sunny wood, overlooking a flowery glacier meadow and a glimmering lake'.
What does 'Going West' mean?
The term 'Going West' is also known as the westward expansion. This was the process by which settlers in America moved westward overtime, claiming more and more land, and taking land already inhabited by Native Americans. Politicians and settlers felt it was God's plan for them to have and cultivate this land, and they therefore felt they had the right to take land from Native Americans. BBC Bitesize website(this will open in a new window) has a great range of resources outlining the reasons for the westward expansion, and the Smithonian Museum has a in-depth video(this will open in a new window) about the treaties forced on Native American's during the westward expansion, and removal and relocation of Native Americans.
Print the Beneath Our Feet pupil activity worksheet and prepare the following background information:
- Discover the type of rock the school is built on(this will open in a new window)
- Find out what types of trees grow in the school grounds(this will open in a new window)
- Learn the names of any insects your class finds(this will open in a new window)
- Identify any birds your class can spot(this will open in a new window)
Reflecting on learning
- Had pupils ever considered exploring the environment surrounding their school as well as what was beneath their feet before?
- Do pupils know how to find out more about the trees, rocks, birds and insects found in their locality?
- Name the rocks that make up the geology of their local area
- Identify and name local birds, insects and trees and describe their characteristics
For more ideas and activities to use with this section of the John Muir story go to:
- Oxford University Museum of Natural History(this will open in a new window)
- British Geological Survey - discovering geology(this will open in a new window)