Join us

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us

Field studies tutors at Slapton Ley Field Centre in Devon argue that there does not necessarily need to be a distinction between the teaching and learning approaches used in the classroom and the field.

For example, it can be useful practice to adopt starters and plenaries in the field to structure your activity, or to engage students in role play and drama.


  • Play I-spy to identify landscape features

  • Play ‘Just a minute' - students have to talk about the landform for one minute without hesitation, repetition or deviation. It is harder than they will think

  • Play charades or mime a coastal process

  • Play Taboo - students have to describe a process without using five key terms

  • Use three descriptive words and Haiku poems to express thoughts and feelings about different places


  • Use laminated photos in the field to compare the site today with how it looked in the past, or looks under different conditions, for example a river in flood

  • Students can also annotate the features and processes of the landscape onto laminated photos, to assist them with later analysis. This is a useful alternative to field sketching. Teachers should have a fully labelled version for comparison

  • Ask students to take their own digital photos of the site and talk about them to the rest of the group: Why did they choose this photo? What does it show? What geographical features and processes can it be used to explain?

  • Collect pebbles that represent the geology of a shingle ridge and conduct a mini-investigation to predict and then find out where the material has come from. Students usually end up rejecting their hypothesis that the material will be locally sourced

  • Set up scavenger hunts to collect and identify species in ecosystem and succession studies

  • Kim's Game is another alternative - and fun - approach to species identification

  • Compare species diversity, population density or similar through a living graph. Students congregate in groups to represent different quantities, for example the difference in species diversity on and off a footpath during a tourism impact study

  • Engage in some environmental art! Use natural materials to create some abstract sculpture, or even a collage of the landscape itself. Rubbings and natural dyes from plants can also be used

Role play/drama

  • Use drama or dance to act out the role of constructive and destructive waves in beach formation, or positive and negative ions in soil cation exchange. Students can also act out the journey of a water droplet from source to mouth

  • Try hot-seating - students use empathy to explore how different people might feel about a controversial issue


  • On the walk back to the school or coach, tell a student at the front of the group a fact that they have to relate to everyone else in the group as they pass. Not only can this act as a useful reminder to students of a key point from the fieldwork, but it keeps the group together and redistributes the fastest students to the back

  • Play ‘Equipment Pictionary' and pitch groups of students against each other to see who can identify the names and the uses of items of fieldwork equipment that they have used during the day

  • Encourage students to assess each other's field sketches - checking for labels, descriptions, explanations

Back in the classroom

  • Use your Interactive White Board to refresh students' memories of the field site using photos, video clips and diagrams

  • Project your site photos onto the white board and use them as a template for annotated field sketches

  • Use Memory Map or Movie Maker to create clips as a reminder of the different sites visited and as an aid to analysis. They can also be used in the classroom before the trip as a starter to set the hypotheses and to engage students in interactive risk assessment


If you are not sure what a Haiku poem is, the  haiku slide (in the downloads section) gives an example. The aim is to produce a three line descriptive poem, which has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. The Haiku entry on Wikipedia will give you more information and tips.

Coastal taboo

Just to get you started, download the sheet of cards to use for coastal Taboo. The idea is that students have to describe the process or landform at the top of the card to their classmates without using any of the four key words listed underneath.

Teachers from schools around the country have contributed case studies of fieldwork they have carried out with their students that they feel has been particularly successful. These articles include information about the fieldwork, resources, tips and checklists to help you to adapt their ideas for your own fieldwork setting.

Year 8 organic farming 

Lindsay Wells, Head of Geography at Blackheath High School, London, describes a fieldtrip she organised for her Year 8 students to an organic farm in Kent. The aim of the trip was to introduce the concepts of agricultural change and the impact of farming on the environment. The fieldtrip formed part of a Year 8 unit of study on the changing distribution and impact of economic activity.

  • Year 8 fieldwork case study - Organic Farming article

  • Student template

Innovative Fieldwork

Anthony Cheetham from Highfield Science Specialist School recently received an RGS-IBG Innovative Geography Teaching Grant to develop a geographical murder mystery based on fieldwork in North Wales. An article about the project was published in the Ordnance Survey magazine Mapping News.

Fieldwork status report

This report is the outcome of research into current innovation in fieldwork. It highlights good practice and great ideas from teachers up and down the country.


File nameFiles

File type



Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Year 8 Organic Farming Case Study Article


244 KB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Year 8 Organic Farming Case Study Write-up Guide


64 KB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Geographical Murder Mystery Who Killed G Joe Raphical Article


191 KB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Geographical Murder Mystery More Information


1 MB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Final Report


211 KB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Haiku slide


4 MB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Coastal Taboo


42 KB

Quick and Easy Fieldwork Ideas Coastal Taboo (1)


33 KB

Download all files