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Antarctica Day

Exploring Shackleton’s Antarctica - Antarctica Day

This lesson consolidates and celebrates the ‘Antarctica day’ event and centenary of the Endurance expedition in 1915.

Exploring Shackleton’s Antarctica

To conclude the module and continuing with pupils’ research station investigations, this lesson consolidates and celebrates the ‘Antarctica day’ event and centenary of the Endurance Expedition in 1915.

Suggestions will be shared and modelled to show how pupils can create a ‘living classroom’ such as representing and contrasting the different localities of the Endurance expedition journey: London, Buenos Aires, South Georgia and Elephant Island. Pupils can then invite their school to visit and celebrate their ‘living classroom’ to share their geographical knowledge of Antarctica and learning on both historic and contemporary life on the ‘frozen continent’.

Key questions

  • Who were the members of the Endurance expedition crew?
  • What role did they play on the Endurance and throughout the expedition?

Subject content areas

  • Human geography: exploration
  • Place knowledge: London, Buenos Aires, South Georgia and Elephant Island.



This lesson continues from pupils’ ‘research station’ investigations by allowing opportunities to develop classroom displays and role play. Pupils will summarise everything learnt in this unit by presenting a celebration of what they have achieved in their very own ‘Antarctica day’.

To add excitement, pupils could come to school for the day ‘in role’, dressed up as a member of the Endurance crew (see resources for crew list for names to be pulled out of the hat). Having an ‘Antarctica day’ will allow pupils to bring to life the people and locality they have studied. 

Pupils should choose a member of the expedition crew as a character they will adopt throughout the day. They should then research their crew member and the role they played on the Endurance expedition.

Further details about crew members can be found on the Endurance Obituaries website


Pupils should create a ‘living classroom’ and showcase their work produced throughout the unit. For example:

  • Representing and contrasting the different localities of Shackleton’s Journey: London, Buenos Aires, South Georgia and Elephant Island with annotated maps
  • An operational ‘Antarctic Research Station’ and ‘Penguin Post Office’ featuring postcards to send home.
  • Life on Antarctica - Different stages of the Endurance expedition e.g. Stuck Fast, The James Caird Boat Journey, life on Elephant Island
  • Latitude drama work linked to their timeline and mapping work
  • Newspaper articles written about the expedition

Please see case study photos for examples of children’s work previously done in ‘Antarctica day’.

Pupils will be in role as a member of the Endurance crew (see resources for a list of names and occupations). Pupils invite wider school community to visit their ‘living classroom’ passing on their curiosity and fascination of the enquiry.

During ‘Antarctica day’ children will intermingle and role play elements of the expedition, linking together all elements of their geographical understanding from routes followed (locational knowledge and mapping), life within the Antarctic Circle (human and physical geography) and demonstrate their understanding of the place studied and the geographical skills learnt.


The 'Antarctica day' could end with an assembly showcasing the drama work to the school.

Alternatively, within the classroom, get the pupils into pairs to discuss advice they would give to an explorer visiting Antarctica – think about food, clothing, navigating the environment, important things to watch out for etc. Get pupils to write this onto a sticky note. Pupils can then add these notes to an Antarctica display board. As a class – have we collected the best advice for explorers from all that we have learnt during this unit?

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