Pupils at Cuddington Croft School had a wild time exploring an ancient South American civilisation recently – and still made it back to school in Cheam before home time.

The long-lost Mayan culture was the centre piece of Year Five’s Rites and Rituals topic, and with the children having learnt outdoor skills at a residential camp before Easter, teachers decided to put them to the test by setting up a Mayan exploration trail all around the school.

4990030Using their newly-acquired map reading and navigation skills, 66 pupils had to find their way around the Mountain of Enlightenment (also known as the school hall) and the Plateau of Revenge and Cavern of Snakes (or, to use the old name, the school playground), finding information along the way to try and build up as much knowledge as possible about the Mayans in the time they were given.

“We’ve really enjoyed teaching the subject, so we wanted to bring it to life for the children in as imaginative a way as possible, whilst also giving them a chance to utilise their skills from the camp,” said Year Five teacher Angela Donno, who helped co-ordinate the event – dressed up in full explorer costume.

“Taking the children out of the classroom and having them learn in a way like this makes lessons so much more enjoyable and memorable for them – it’s fantastic way to impart knowledge”.

At the end of their exploits, the young explorers of Cuddington – a member of the GLF Schools group – filmed the results of their trip to share their newly acquired knowledge with Dr Von Kroop (a fictional archaeologist in the form of Mr Donno who was not able to come into school in person as he was away ‘exploring the wilderness in Brazil’).

“We wanted to have an output for the children’s learning so my colleague Miss Kim and I invented him,” admitted Mrs Donno. “When he’s seen the film, we will them make another with Dr Von Kroop, delivering a message of encouragement back to the children. Getting people motivated after the school holidays can often be a bit of a challenge, so this was a great way to launch the Mayan project and really get the children involved in it.

“If it inspires any of them to go off and become the next Indiana Jones, then that would be a lovely bonus – that would make a fascinating assembly if they want to come back and tell us about it!”

Caption: Cuddington Croft’s Mayan exploration adventure