Animals Including Humans Year 3: Mapping Prior Knowledge
Teaching Animals Including Humans Year 3? In this blog post, we’ll explore how pupils’ pre-existing knowledge can help them better understand the unit. In part 2, we’ll organise new knowledge and look at ways to embed learning. Finally, we’ll discuss strategies to teach the necessary scientific vocabulary.
According to David Ausubel, The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.
The more you already know about a topic, the easier it is to learn something new about it. Prior knowledge from within and outside of science can help pupils understand Animals including Humans Year 3 better. In particular, we will look at four types of pre-existing knowledge that can be used to develop understanding.
- Cultural and social experiences
Subject-specific Prior Knowledge
Pupils have learned some key concepts in key stage 1 that are relevant to this unit:
- How to eat a healthy diet and exercise. This will help them to understand food groups, the Eatwell plate, food labels, obesity and starvation.
- How to classify animals based on their feeding habits. This will help them to understand carnivores, omnivores and herbivores in terms of energy transfer.
- How plants are producers and need light to make food. This will help them to understand the role of plants in food chains.
However, pupils have not learned about the structure and function of muscles and bones in key stage 1. Therefore, we need to introduce this topic carefully and thoroughly. Pupils may find it more difficult to learn without any prior knowledge. The subject-specific prior knowledge for the unit has been mapped to new learning, below:
2. Cross-Curricular Prior Knowledge
This unit connects with other subjects in the curriculum, such as:
- RSE: Pupils learn about healthy eating and exercise guidelines.
- PE: Pupils apply their knowledge of exercise to physical activities.
- DT food: Pupils practice healthy eating skills in cooking and food preparation.
- Art: Pupils use art to express and communicate their understanding of concepts.
To summarise, these cross-curricular links help pupils to see the relevance and importance of the Animals including Humans Year 3 in practical settings. Furthermore, they help pupils to embed the learning by encountering the information in different contexts.
Note: You can give pupils some choice in how they present their ideas using art. For example, you can ask them to use the style of an artist they are studying, such as Picasso. You can adapt this activity based on the crafts and resources you have available.
3. Using personal And Cultural experiences
Utilising children’s broader personal and cultural experiences is useful vehicle for contextualising subject matter. This is what we refer to as Hinterland knowledge. Here are a few examples in this unit:
The booklet references vegan, kosher and halal diets, to show pupils that they already have some awareness of diverse diets. To illustrate the importance of muscles and bones, we look at what happens when they are not working properly. It’s common for pupils to think that insects don’t have muscles. For this reason, the booklet references jumping fleas to help clear up this misconception.
It’s important not to overuse these experiences and to keep them relevant to the topic. By doing this, we can help children make strong connections between their personal experiences and the concepts they are learning, which leads to a deeper understanding and engagement with the material.
4. Addressing Misconceptions In Animals Including Humans Year 3
When teaching children, it’s important to acknowledge that they may come into the classroom with pre-existing knowledge that is inaccurate or incomplete. These misconceptions can be a result of misunderstandings, cultural beliefs, or even previous teaching. For example, pupils might think that kangaroos and koalas give birth to live young in the same way as other mammals do, or that there is no pattern in life expectancy and that it’s due to chance or luck. Some common misconceptions for this unit are shown below:
As educators, it’s important to identify and address these misconceptions as early as possible. If we don’t, pupils build incorrect schema and can’t correctly apply what they’ve learned to new experiences.
Teaching science to children can be made easier by using pre-existing knowledge to deepen their understanding of the topic. By making connections with other subjects, using personal and cultural experiences, and addressing misconceptions in pre-existing knowledge, we can help children build a strong foundation of knowledge that they can apply to Animals Including Humans Year 3
Action Points for Improving Understanding in Animals Including Humans Year 3
Use these tips to enhance your teaching and make learning a more enriching experience for your students.