Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers Notes

Resource produced in partnership with Canals and Rivers Trust and Playful Anywhere 

With thanks to all those who have helped with the creation of these resources, particularly Chris Sharpe from Leeds Industrial Museum, Philip Markin from Open Source Arts Leeds City Council & all those who have graciously allowed us to use their material especially Simon Brewis from Common Chorus Theatre and Steve Bottoms from Multi Story Water.


Curriculum Links

KS2 Geography:  Physcial Geography:  Rivers and the water cycle; Human Geography: Settlement and land use

KS1 History : Significant local historical events, people and places

KS2 History:  Theme extending knowledge beyond 1066


Activity Ideas (Canals Trust)

1.     People who live in areas with a high risk of flooding have been advised to put together a flood kit or ‘grab bag’ to make things easier for themselves if they are ever flooded again. A grab bag should be left somewhere easy to find in an emergency (such as the under stairs cupboard) and you should have filled it with all the things you might need e.g. money, medication, first aid kit, mobile phone and warm clothes. What would you include in your ‘Grab bag’ if you had to leave your house in case of a flood?

  • Have a look at one another’s flood ‘Grab bags’. Did you really think about what you might need in a flood, or was it filled with your favourite things?
    • Did you think of any of these things . . .
    • Cash & credit cards                                       
    • Phone charger
    • Radio & batteries                                 
    • Torch & batteries (or wind up torch)
    • Wellies                                               
    • Wash kit
    • Blanket                                                    
    • Food that won’t go off quickly                                  
    • Games/cards to help pass the time       
    • Documents e.g. house insurance
    • Phone numbers written down (in case there’s no electricity & can’t charge your phone)
    • If there is a baby then any special things they need like a dummy, nappies, food

2.     Design leaflet to be sent out to homes at risk of flooding. You will need to include information on what to do, how to keep yourself safe and who to call.

3.     Research different types of flood defence. Now design and build your own flood defence inventions. Discuss the pros and cons of your design.  

4.     Listen to the personal flood stories listed in the Supporting Links and in the PowerPoint with this resource. Use the stories as a stimulus for a piece of creative writing or visual art.

5.     Read the section called ‘The Leeds Flood in 2015 : A Timeline– what happened?’ and the information and videos in the downloadable Powerpoint. Carry out some research to find our more about what happened and about historic floods in Leeds. Find out about the cause and impact of these floods and what happened afterwards.

6.     Research and write about or create a newspaper article about historic local flooding. What was the impact on your local area, local people and local businesses.


Activity Ideas (Playful Anywhere)

1.     Go geocaching along your local river at sites of interest or particular areas at risk of flooding. Use digital tech, solve clues and find challenges posted in the geocache sites that you find. Challenges could include: 

  • Take the best photo you can and add a caption – create a classroom photographic exhibit exploring nature, form, colour, tone, pattern etc.
  • Draw a picture of the area or of something related to flooding issues
  • Write a story/poem/other creative writing using words about how this area makes you feel
  • Create a piece of temporary nature art .  You could use the artist Andy Goldsworthy as inspiration.  See Supporting Links for weblinks. 
  • Read the story of someone who experienced the flood hidden in the geocache – share your own survival stories or stories about growing up in Leeds.

2.     Gather some data about a local body of water, rainfall patterns, rivers or flooding from the government environmental data website  and other sources including Yorkshire Water, Environment Agency and Canals and River Trust and NASA. You can be playful with the way that this data is represented by creating artistic responses to it. This can help you to explore and make sense of the data, numeric relationships and numbers generally. In the Flotsam and Jetsam projects children worked with flood and water data and textile artist Gemma May Latham to create embroidered artwork.

3.     Research historic flood data and maps to find areas that have flooded in the past and find out about the cause and consequences of these. You can search your local archives or local studies libraries and the Leodis website for historic images of floods, maps and wider archival records.  You could use these images from Leodis for inspiration.

4.     Carry out an oral history and creative writing arts project gathering the stories of local people who have experienced flooding directly or been involved in the flood response. Ask children to ask their parents, carers and wider family members what they remember about the 2015 floods or other floods and get them to record these informal interviews. You can gather, mix up, reinterpret and represent key words that are gathered through the interviews that children do.

Or listen to each interview recorded and ask children to respond using different visual arts techniques. In the Flotsam and Jetsam projects children and artists gathered words from people experienced floods and engraved them on materials that were then used to decorate a canal barge. They also used creative writing and visual art to create caddis fly sculptures with the words incorporated into the caddis fly carapace, the structure these insects build to protect themselves during development. This could lead to discussion about protection and survival.

5.     In the Flotsam and Jetsam projects artists were able to incorporate topographical data relating to local bodies of water into the Minecraft software enabling the creation of flood landscapes within the game. Have a look at this blogpost to see how Ordnance Survey have done something similar and have a go yourself! 

6.    Research what animals live in and around water/water courses. You could study and draw the animals, discuss habitats and life-cycles and the impact of human activity on the environment, create your own landscape and animal models or write stories about them. At Flotsam and Jetsam children discussed the impact of pollution from plastics, created their own recycled plastic sculptures and boats and created and curated their own objects and exhibitions for a pop up museum. Create your own classroom museum.


Discussion Ideas

1.     Explore and discuss the effects of flooding. Think about some of the obvious and some of the less obvious effects.

2.     Imagine that your class is the advisory team, for a local council where flooding happens regularly. Divide into two groups. One group should research the benefits of using council money to create flood defences. The other group should consider all the reasons why money should be spent on other council priorities. Have a class debate to decide what the council should do.