Global Learning London

Concept of the footprint

Introduction to concept of the footprint

Summary: As the title suggests, the purpose of this activity is to introduce pupils tothe concept of a ‘footprint’. Numeracy (NNS)/ Literacy (NLS) or other curriculum area focus/reference:

Geography (KS2) Knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development·

  • Recognise how people can improve the environment or damage it
  • Recognise how and why people may seek to manage environments sustainably and to identify opportunities for their own involvement

Resources needed:

  • Background material for “where does it come from?” as required
  • A large round apple, sharp knife and plate
  • Flipchart & pens or board
Target: Mid-Upper primary
  • To introduce the concept of the footprint through exploring the importance and value of available land for supporting life on earth
  • To start to develop ideas as to how the footprint could be reduced
  • This activity can be used in conjunction with the ‘How big is your footprint?’ Quiz
Length: 1 hour
Description of activity
1. What do we need to live? Brainstorm with whole class on what each of us needs to live e.g. food, water, warmth, shelter, etc. Depending on children, this could include some way of dealing with waste. (include social / emotional needs, if suggested by children, and return to these issues in a later session)
2. Where does it come from? In small groups children take one of the issues raised and on a large sheet of paper with words / pictures trace back where it comes from (e.g. food comes from animals / plants, they need water, sunlight, soil…these can be simple / complicated depending on children’s abilities.) Each small group feeds back to the whole class what they have found.
3. Dependence on the earth. Draw out from the feedback the fact that we all depend on the natural resources of water, energy from the sun, soil and land. Explain that for this session we will be concentrating on the land that we all depend on for survival. Depending on age/ability of the children our reliance on the land can be explored to different levels of complexity, e.g. charts to show how oil is formed.
4. How much land have we got? Use the apple as our planet exercise to show how much of the earth we are dependent on for our survival. Nearly 3/4 of the surface of the earth is covered in water – cut a quarter of the apple and discard the 3/4. Of the quarter that is left, only 1/8 is productive – the rest is desert, rock, ice-covered, forest covered etc. Cut the remaining quarter into eight pieces. Discard seven pieces and peel the remaining 1/8. Explain that this represents the soil on which we depend.
5. Our footprint on the global supply of land. Explain that we all trample on this available land using it for different purposes and symbolically leave behind footprints. Brainstorm the different uses of land, e.g. farming, building homes and cities, making roads etc. Which are the most important? Which are a waste of land?
6. Reducing our footprint. Having explored the importance of land and its uses, ask children to think of ways in which we can reduce our footprint
Areas of Oxfam Curriculum for Global Citizenship addressed by activity
Knowledge and Understanding Skills Values and Attitudes
Social justice and equity Critical thinking Sense of identity and self-esteem
Diversity Ability to argue effectively Empathy and sense of common humanity
Globalisation and Interdependence Ability to challenge injustice & inequalities Commitment to social justice and equity
Sustainable development Respect for people and things Valuing and respecting diversity*
Peace and conflict Co-operation and conflict resolution Concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable development
Belief that people can make a difference
Follow-up/Further ideas/Homework
How big is your footprint? Play the “Global Steps” game available from Best Foot Forward. This is very adaptable according to the age and needs of the children. The children calculate their own personal footprint in a very simplified form. As a whole class, children can feedback their scores and find out how many planets would be needed if everyone lived like them! At this point you could introduce the idea of the relative sizes of nations’ footprints, and what size a “fair earthshare” would be.