Key Stage 2 learning resources for air pollution, climate change and weather

Our learning resources offer educators some suggested discussion points about Grandma’s Footsteps, and activities for further learning.


Educators might find it useful to share science explainers for air pollution, climate change and weather, and to take a look at ways people can help the environment. 


The story and the science explainers are written in language accessible for children aged 7 to 11, and are suitable for Key Stage 2. The suggested discussion points and activities are written for educators.


The Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ months meant that there was less traffic on the roads in the UK, and less nitrogen dioxide in the air. In some places this was as much as half the usual amount. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the main air pollutants, and it comes from cars. 


Get students to think about the traffic in their local area. If you can see a road from your classroom or playground spend 10-15 minutes counting how many cars go by. You could extend this activity by recording the amount of cars at different times in the day, or set this as a homework task. Later you could compare your results and think about what might have influenced traffic. Link this to Grandma's Footsteps by thinking about the history of Etherley, what did each of Hy’s ancestors do to make the air cleaner? 


The transport we choose to use plays a huge role in air pollution. To make our air clean and healthy we need to choose different forms of transport that have cleaner engines. Or, we can use transport that has low or no exhaust fumes e.g. walk, bike, scoot, electric vehicles.

Think about different types of transport and their impact on air pollution. Do cars and trucks create the same amount of pollutants? An easy place to start would be to ask students how they get to school. Create a list of pros and cons for the different types of transport. Use this to start a discussion e.g. walking is cleaner than driving but not everyone lives close enough to walk. Some people have disabilities or health conditions that make walking long distances difficult. In this case what can we do to reduce air pollution? Can we carpool with a friend like Hy and the vendor or use public transport? Clean Air Hub is a good resource to support these kinds of activities. Link this to Grandma’s Footsteps by looking at how great-great-great-grandma Tynee and her son Blokt designed the dome. 


The Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ months have shown how clean we can make our air. Better air quality means that more people, especially children, will live healthier lives. 


Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today, according to the UK government and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Get your students to think about what air pollution does to our bodies. This is a good point of entry for considering the respiratory system.There is evidence that high levels of nitrogen dioxide can inflame the airways in our lungs and, over a long period of time, affect how well our lungs work. People with asthma are particularly affected. Do any of your students have asthma? Ask them if they would like to tell the class how it feels when they need to take their inhaler. What makes their breathing better or worse? What does an inhaler do? Link this to Grandma’s Footsteps by looking for things in the illustrations that help the characters breathe. Consider the air-rucksack, how do you think they work? 


Urban areas have higher air pollution levels than rural areas. 


Big differences in air pollution have been observed across communities in the UK, with deprived and ethnic minority areas the worst affected. Look at the differences between urban and rural environments. What kind of environment do you and your students live in? Have they always lived in this kind of environment? This would be a nice place to look at culture and community. Who makes up your local community?  If any students or their families have come from a different, rural country this might be another way to compare urban and rural environments in a more personal way. Inequalities in exposure to air pollution are mainly an urban problem, suggesting that measures to reduce environmental air pollution inequality should focus on cutting vehicle emissions in deprived urban neighbourhoods. This would be a good place to look at Clean Air Zones. You might also look at the story of Ella Debrah Kissi. Link this to Grandma's Footsteps by comparing Etherley and Palloncini. Look at the different adjectives used to describe the atmosphere. Compare the vehicles you can see in the illustrations. 

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