Year 5 – Exploring Shackleton’s Antarctica

Project Overview

In year 5, we have been learning all about Antarctica and Shackleton’s journey to explore this continent. The children were intrigued to learn facts about Antarctica itself, such as the Ross Ice Shelf being the size of France and that polar bears do not live in Antarctica! With the use of secondary sources such as books, photos and videos, they also found the lengths that Shackleton went to to get to the South Pole inspiring. The learning included advertising for an explorer to join Shackleton on his exploration and drama to act out the stages of Shackleton’s journey to Antarctica.

In addition to learning about Shackleton, children completed a writing unit about another likeminded explorer (Scott) and researched a variety of polar scientific careers which are undertaken, such as glaciologists, meteorologists and geologists.

Finally, we had an awesome explorer visit the year 5 children and talk to them about his journey to the South Pole. He gave details about every step – from raising money and finding the correct team for the trip, to the gory photos of getting severe frostbite and having to have surgery and rehabilitation, for months after, as a result of the exploration. A lucky member of year 5 was chosen to get dressed into the explorers hi-tech clothing, to see what he wore but also to try and give the children some perspective about how cold it actually is in Antarctica!

What The Student Says

“I loved learning about the wildlife that live on Antarctica like the Emperor Penguins and the seals”- 5NH child

“The explorer was amazing – he made me feel like I could achieve anything”- 5AO child 

“I liked pretending I was an explorer when we did our writing and that my feet got frostbite!” – 5NH child

“I enjoyed learning about the Antarctica because there is nowhere else like it on Earth!” – 5AO child

What skills were developed?

The children have:

  • developed their communication and language skills
  • used maps, atlases and digital computer mapping to locate Antarctica and describe features studied
  • asked and responded to geographical questions
  • learnt about wildlife specific to that area of the world
  • linked their learning of Antarctica equipment and clothing to science (properties of materials)

What The Teacher Says

The geography project over the last term has definitely engaed the children and given them a thirst for knowledge. They enjoyed the writing unit, as an explorer in the 1900s, as it gave them a sense of how difficult a task Shackleton and Scott had in those days. The icing on the cake for the pupils was having the explorer come in to school. They listened with curiosity and soaked up everything he had to say.

– Miss Holmes, 5NH Class Teacher