A primary school teacher in Southampton has even created a replica yacht for her students and plans to Skype the race teams
“Miss M, when are we doing sailing today?”
That is a question that is asked on a daily basis in my classroom. I am a year 4 (aged 8 – 9 year olds) teacher at St. Denys primary School in Southampton. As a keen sailor myself, I thought it might be a good idea to tell my class about the Volvo Ocean Race, when it started in October 2014, to widen their experiences of the outside world. The children enjoyed seeing photos of my sailing experiences at weekends and thought they would enjoy following the race.
I initially thought we could just have a world map up on the wall and plot the race as it goes round the different legs. But I could not have anticipated just how engaged the children would become. Who would have thought that this race would take over the lives of a small class in Southampton?
I had already set up my own boat on the virtual regatta game and showed this to the children. In a matter of days, the children had become so interested in it; they were asking if they could check the boats position each morning.
Over the weeks, this has become the first thing the children do, on arrival in class. They log on, check the position, check out the wind over the next 12 hours and change the course of the boat to get the best speed. Over time, the children have gone home and set up their own boats with their families.
We now have a healthy competition in class about how well each of us are doing, checking positions etc. It’s not just the children who have boats; we now have some of their parents with their own boats too, competing against their children!
Once the children starting to get involved, I was amazed at how the involvement grew. The children were going home and engaging with their families. They have downloaded the apps onto their parent’s phones and IPads, so they can keep up to date with Volvo, outside of school hours.
Parents have also been choosing their own teams to support and come in each morning to check our display and talk to the children. Developing these home school links is so important in helping to engage the children.