These primary and secondary enrichment activities explore ways to entertain pupils in their holidays, and consider whether video games are a good source of entertainment for young people

This week’s primary enrichment activity explores activities that pupils could become involved with in their summer holidays.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity looks at the safety of underage users playing violent video games.

***Primary Enrichment*** Holiday bumper fun

Summer holidays can be enjoyable. For some children the chance to do very little is a pleasant thing. For other children, however, the holidays can deteriorate into a boring time while waiting for school to start again. This week the ezine is a collection of ideas and activities based on selected current news items to help stimulate intellectual activity for the gifted and talented child over the holiday.

Some ideas for your pupils to consider and pursue:

Reclaiming streams and ponds In the journal Science there is a report of work done by hundreds of scientists in America who are researching the history of streams and ponds in the areas where they live. Their work indicates that 18th- and 19th-century dams and millponds, built by the thousands, altered the water flow in the regions studied in a way not previously understood. River and stream restoration is rapidly becoming a popular activity. Consult local maps at your library or online. Are there any lost rivers or streams in your area? How does water flow away from the roads, streets and paths? Where does the water go? What would happen if all the hidden or lost streams were running and visible again? How would the restoration of rivers and streams alter the quality of your life, if at all?


The article referenced below, ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbour?’, suggests contacting and introducing yourself to unknown neighbours. This, for obvious reasons, is not a suggested activity. Instead, suggest to children that over the summer they build up a sketchbook of their neighbourhood. They could draw all the houses and street furniture in their immediate vicinity. The result could be made into a 3D model.


At Bletchley Park, the Colossus computer is being rebuilt. Tony Sale, the chief architect of the rebuild, used black and white photographs of the original Colossus to plan the rebuilding exercise. The National Museum of Computing is based at Bletchley. Ask your children to consider creating a computing museum of their own. They could use both the internet and their local library to track down the history timelines of computer development, find images of computers and research biographical information on computing engineers. It is fun to collect and even more fun to have your own museum to curate.

Sea of trash

A non-profit group called the Gulf of Alaska Keeper, or GoAK (pronounced GO-ay-kay, according to its mission statement, as published in the New York Times), has as its aim to ‘protect, preserve, enhance and restore the ecological integrity, wilderness quality and productivity of Prince William Sound and the North Gulf Coast of Alaska.’ What this mainly appears to be about is collecting rubbish from the beaches. The world is polluted with plastic. The British Antarctic Survey completed a study of plastic dispersal which showed that even ‘remote’ areas ‘may have similar levels of debris to those adjacent to heavily industrialized coasts.’ The study also revealed that Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic had on average an item of plastic debris every five metres. Children could establish a recycling system in their home with the aim of monitoring the amount of plastic that is used in packaging. If a recycling system operates in their area, an interesting activity would be to monitor how much plastic is recycled or investigate how much plastic packaging could be avoided altogether. If no system exists then the activity becomes more interesting. Children could be asked to devise a recycling system for their neighbourhood. With the guidance of suitably checked and qualified volunteers, children could establish a recycling system that makes a profit from waste, either reinvesting their profits in local worthy causes or donating them to charities of their choice.

Patent delays frustrate inventors

Delays in Europe of up to 10 years have meant that the world patent system is years behind in dealing with patent requests, with as many as 10 million inventions waiting for approval globally. Ask your children to invent something useful over the school holidays. They can at least daydream about improving the world. They should be encouraged to visit a patent site on the internet to begin protecting their most valuable ideas. They could, of course, research and study the patent system, write a series of recommendations and send it to the Patents Office.

Summary Things to do during the summer holiday.

Going further

All of the articles cited below are worth reading in full. Each article will lead on to another area of interest or to information that can offer more depth to children’s understanding of a subject. Ask children to read the articles over the holidays and to record the journeys they take when following up ideas stimulated by the initial reading. Ask them to keep a log over the summer holidays of the things that interested them. At the end of the holidays they can look at their thinking over the summer. Has the research stimulated ideas about future study and career choices? Has the research provided them with new long-term interests? From their research, can they compile a list of things to do for the winter holidays?

Linked Activity
Activity 56, Layered maps (pages 126-127) Primary Enrichment activities for Key Stages 1 and 2, Optimus Education.

KS2 Skills Across the Curriculum

‘At all key stages, pupils learn, practise, combine, develop and refine a wide range of skills in their work across the National Curriculum. Some of these skills are subject-specific (painting in art and design), some are common to several subjects (enquiry skills in science, history and geography). Some skills are universal, for example the skills of communication, improving own learning and performance, and creative thinking. These skills are also embedded in the subjects of the National Curriculum and are essential to effective learning. Opportunities for teaching and learning all these skills across the key stages can be identified when planning. Pupils can be encouraged to reflect on what and on how they learn, and how these skills can be applied to different subjects, different problems and real-life situations.’

Learning and teaching Scotland

‘Determined to Succeed’ is the Scottish Government’s strategy for enterprise in education, through which young people will become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

International Baccalaureate

Primary Years Programme, Curriculum framework ‘At the heart of the programme’s philosophy is a commitment to structured, purposeful inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning.

Six transdisciplinary themes of global significance provide the framework for exploration and study:

  • who we are
  • where we are in place and time
  • how we express ourselves
  • how the world works
  • how we organize ourselves
  • sharing the planet.’

***Secondary Enrichment***

Violent video games

The exams and challenges of the school year will soon be over and it will be time to relax and, perhaps, enjoy playing video games. An investigation by the Welsh Heads of Trading Standards (WHOTS) found that children can buy violent video games through online auction websites. Reporting the findings the BBC said that six local authorities used young volunteers, aged between 12 and 16, to try to buy 18-rated video games online. Of 44 attempts 38 proved successful. The Trading Standards Institute said that online traders had to ensure they complied with laws. Anyone supplying an under-age person could be fined or sent to prison for six months. ‘This survey shows how easily children can gain access to age-restricted, violent video games,’ Lee Jones, acting head of trading standards at Bridgend County Borough Council, reportedly told the BBC.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:
The argument that video games with violent content are a danger to children and can influence their behaviour is a regular feature story in newspapers, magazines and other media. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is the agency that currently evaluates the suitability of video games for different age groups.

Ask students to list and discuss the video games they know of and that they enjoy playing. When the discussion is sufficiently established, invite students to discuss and debate the following ideas:

  • What categories can they create that would offer a view of video games as positive and educational resources?
  • If the argument that violent video games support violent behaviour is accepted, how would they collect evidence that demonstrated that non-violent, ‘nice’ videos promote non-violent, acceptable behaviour?

Summary Examining the assumptions that underpin moral and ethical censorship.

Going further

  • Once an interest in film classification related to computer games has been established, the discussion could move on to how attitudes are influenced by the producers and the censors of computer games. Is it just a question of profit from sales on one hand and moral correctness on the other?
  • For students inclined towards research, it would be useful to ask them how they could monitor the effect on young people of playing computer games. How would they measure behavioural and attitudinal change?

The full BBC story on under-age people buying violent games online

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

The ‘Children’s’ BBFC

‘The Shootout Over Hidden Meanings in a Video Game’


Linked Activity

Activity 88, A new film classification system (pages 214-217) Enrichment Activities or Gifted Children, Optimus Education.

KS3 Citizenship
‘Education for citizenship equips young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in public life. Citizenship encourages them to take an interest in topical and controversial issues and to engage in discussion and debate. Students learn about their rights, responsibilities, duties and freedoms, and about laws, justice and democracy.’

Learning and teaching Scotland

‘Raising awareness of important citizenship issues facing communities now and in the future is an important part of education for citizenship. These issues include: human rights, sustainable development, peace and conflict resolution, social equality and appreciation of diversity.’

International Baccalaureate

Group 3: individuals and societies

Studying any one of the (nine) subjects  (business and management; economics; geography; history; information technology in a global society; Islamic history; philosophy; psychology; social and cultural anthropology)  provides for the development of a critical appreciation of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
  • the history of social and cultural institutions.

In addition, each subject is designed to foster in students the capacity to identify, to analyse critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature and activities of individuals and societies.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.