Teaching the Explore

Can you remember?

Ask pupils to think back to the questions they still want to answer through the theme. Are there any that could be focused on during this Explore?

Where are the Earth’s tectonic plates?

If pupils did the theme Mountain High, River Low in Year 4, remind them that they learnt about plate tectonics and how mountains are formed. Use the ‘Can you remember’ task to draw on pupils’ prior knowledge in this area. Then use the ‘Did you remember’ slide to ensure that all pupils are accurate in their prior knowledge and understanding, or to support pupils who do not have the prior knowledge.

Show pupils where the tectonic plates are in the world and encourage pupils to interrogate by asking key questions such as:

  • How many tectonic plates are there?
  • What do you notice about the names of the plates? How do these relate to the continents?
  • Which countries do you think might sit on each plate? How do you know?

How did continents and islands form from Pangaea?

Explain that the movement of plate tectonics first happened 299 million years ago. During this period, there was one massive supercontinent, called Pangaea. As the earth’s plates moved, Pangaea started to break apart, forming the world’s continents. These fragments drifted away and became islands. One of the first was Madagascar. Another good example would be the Azores, in Portugal. These islands sit where three of the world’s tectonic plates meet.

Islands were created because they are situated on the boundaries of certain tectonic plates in the earth. These islands tend to be called continental islands. A good reference point here is Great Britain and its relationship to Europe, which was introduced in Explore 1.

A great way of demonstrating the movement of plate tectonics is to push South America nearer to Africa. This could be done physically by cutting out the continents from the worksheet (Amazing Islands Explore 2 Pupils sheet – Pangaea) and moving them. It could also be done digitally on an interactive white board.

Watch this video, which explains how continents formed and are still shifting today.

Main task

Give pupils a map of Pangaea and a map of the continents as they are today. Can they find the continents that exist now on the Pangaea map? Ask them to label the map with the names of the continents that exist now.

Assess, reflect, connect

Pupils reflect on their learning by explaining to their partner exactly what happened to create the continents.

Go back to the questions that pupils raised at the beginning of the Explore. Are they able to answer any now? Do they have new questions?