India-themed workshop, Abbeymead Primary School, Gloucester


Well, it was off to Abbeymead Primary School in Gloucester today for my final pupil workshop for this academic year.  The theme for the day was ‘India’ and, due to the school using their Global Learning Programme e-credits to fund the event, there was also an element of CPD for staff to deliver (in the form of a working lunch).

We had a jam-packed morning ahead of us, so I was keen to make a prompt start.  We all assembled in a large room for the ‘launch’ of the workshop.  I had brought along my India-themed box, so I invited individuals up to the front to explore its contents with me and see if they could guess where we might be jet-setting off to.  Jessie Thaud had kindly loaned me some authentic Indian artefacts to include in my box and the owner of Nepalese Chef ( had provided some food items to supplement these.  I had tried to be selective as to what I added to my box – some less obvious objects to challenge individual’s perceptions of India and stereotyping.  Pupils were very keen to come and choose an artefact and responded well to the subsequent questions that I posed to them.

Launching our cross-curricular themed day.

I had intended to use Google Earth to take pupils on a virtual journey to India, but, as we were unable to be in the school hall as originally planned, I had to adopt a slightly different approach – instead, I brought out my infamous, large, inflatable globe and selected an individual to help me locate the UK and India.  Afterwards, I asked pupils in which direction India was from the UK, how far they thought it might be and how long it might take.  They had some interesting answers to the latter two questions (it is, in fact, 4252 miles/6843 kilometres from Gloucester to New Dehli and 8 hours and 30 minutes flying time from Birmingham to New Dehli).  Next, I shared the learning objectives and format of the day with the children, before allocating them to a ‘city’; three ‘cities’ then merged to form a larger group for our morning’s carousel of interactive activities (developing place and locational knowledge; investigating Indian culture and heritage, including rangoli art, and the dramatisation of a folk tale, entitled ‘The people who hugged the trees’).

With myself, pupils attempted to develop their place and locational knowledge via several, very different tasks.  Firstly, in their city group, pupils were given a base map of the Indian sub-continent and an envelope containing a number of labels (countries with which it shares its borders, as well as key physical and human features).  They were expected to work together to place the labels at appropriate points on the base map.  Later, the answers were revealed and further information provided about some of the country’s key physical and human features.

Again, working in their city group, pupils attempted a quiz to discover more about this wonderful country.  They were given iPads and access to the following website in order to answer the questions on the quiz sheet:  Pupils attempted this really well, achieving full, or nearly full, marks in majority of cases.

Next, it was time for a mix and match activity (images and captions).  Once each city group had spent a few minutes matching each image with its appropriate caption, I posed some questions to the chiidren  to highlight key points and issues, such as inequality, poverty and diversity.  In order to encourage some higher-order thinking, I then asked students:

  • Were there any images that surprised them? (with the aim of again challenging stereotyping)
  • What else had they learnt about this country from reading the accompanying captions?

I was truly amazed by how much the children were able to absorb about this wonderful country from just a handful of images and accompanying captions.

Unfortunately, time constraints prevented us from completing the final activity.  However, this is something that teachers can easily do with pupils at a later date.  Working in pairs or threes, pupils will need to access the following website: and aim to identify three similarities and three differences between the life of a ten year old Indian girl and their own.  There is also potential here for lively, whole class discussion.


With guidance from Jessie, the children investigated Indian culture and heritage.  Jessie shared a story about rangoli and provided plenty of fantastic tips from her years of experience.  The children were then able to have a go at creating their own rangoli.  Underneath are some photographs of pupils ‘in action’ and their stunning designs:

Finally, students had the opportunity to join Emily Hastings from Acting Up! ( to bring the story of ‘The people who hugged the trees’ to life.

A short movie clip of this traditional tale can also be found here:  Emily included plenty of warm up activities to ensure all pupils felt comfortable and became fully involved.  Through drama and movement, they explored both Indian culture and climate, exemplifying how crucial the trees were for protection against the sun and sandstorms.  Not only did the children act out the entire story together, but they also worked in smaller groups and pairs and performed individual depictions.  Observing staff witnessed discussions, mime activity, role play and freeze frames.  In addition, Emily looked at the personalities and body language of the characters within the story with Year 4.  Some very brave children read aloud, coping extremely well with tricky words, like Maharaja, which they now know is an Indian prince.  Emily drew the children together at the end to discuss the themes and morals of the folk tale.  It was beautifully summed up by a particularly intuitive boy, who told her, ‘It was a story of courage’.  I cannot believe what Emily managed to achieve within an hour!  When I asked pupils about the story later on, they were able to recall much detail, as well as key geographical vocabulary, e.g. deforestation, natural hazard, desert and sandstorm.  Below are a couple of images of the children ‘in the zone’:

Towards the end of the morning, we gathered together once again for a period of reflection.  I asked the children about their learning and experiences, tossed my plenary dice endless times and reviewed the learning outcomes for the workshop.

Feedback from pupils was extremely positive (a handful of their comments can be viewed below), with a sea of  ‘thumbs up’ visible when reviewing the learning outcomes too.

‘I learnt the colours of the Indian flag.’

‘It was really interesting finding out about life in India.’

‘I liked learning about the physical and human features of the country.’

‘I enjoyed acting out the story.’

‘The drama class was really good fun.’

‘It was great when we had to pretend to be enemies and try to stop the trees from being chopped down.’

‘I felt like I was the girl in the story.’

‘I liked pretending to be the angry prince.’

‘The colours we used in art were really pretty.’

‘I was pleased with my Rangoli picture.’

‘The art class was fun and challenging.’

‘The dice at the end was fun, I liked answering the questions from the board.’

Once the children had been dismissed, it was time for a working lunch with staff.  We discussed the planning and preparation required in advance of such an event and Jessie, Emily and myself shared additional resources and ideas, in case teachers wished to extend pupil’s learning and experiences over the next week or so.  It is a bonus if you can tie in an element of CPD to these cross-curricular themed days as it gives teachers time to reflect on the event immediately after it has occurred, as well as ask any pressing questions that they may have.

Well done to all involved … it was a great way to end Term 6 of 2017-2018 and also prepare the current Year 4 for their ‘Saving the tiger’ topic early in Year 5!

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