Greenling / Before Reading / /

Land Settlement and Use

This lesson makes connections with children's prior knowledge and curriculum coverage to orientate them to the text.

Lesson length: 30 minutes / 1 session

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence

Text potential

  • Background knowledge: Environment
  • Background knowledge: Land use and settlement


  • Background Knowledge


Background knowledge has long been recognised as crucial for children’s comprehension. The relationship between prior knowledge and the knowledge gained from reading is a virtuous circle. The broader and deeper our knowledge, the more we can understand the nuances and layers within a text and the ability to read beyond the literal. The more we read, the more knowledge we acquire.

Background knowledge is built over time. That’s why a content-rich curriculum is essential. Children visit and revisit important ideas, each time deepening their understanding.

In this lesson, we draw on children’s knowledge and experience of land settlement and use, including their firsthand experience of their local environment and reviewing previous learning. This will help them to access some of the deeper themes and concerns within the story.

Teacher’s Note: How you approach this lesson will depend on the children’s prior learning. The main objectives are to foreground their knowledge about local land use and wider knowledge about land settlement and land use. This is an opportunity to visit geographical and historical learning. They will also draw on personal experiences and background knowledge.



  • Drawing Materials
  • Photographs of the locality around the school and where children live
  • If possible, children’s workbooks from  previous years  to review prior learning (Geography/History land settlement and land use)
  • Have Google Street view of the locality available


Start by asking:

  • What is land used for?

Remind the children about work done in previous years about land settlement and usage.

If you can access old workbooks, distribute them and let the children refresh their learning.

  • The five main land-use purposes are agricultural, industrial, commercial, residential, recreational, and transportation.
  • The reasons people settled in particular areas. The history of invaders and settlers in the UK (river settlements, food source, natural resources, quality of the land for farming, safety)

Share the slide show and ask the children to identify the land use in each picture.

The wind farm is interesting because the land is used for farming and industry (energy production)

The canal is interesting as it was once used mainly for transport but now might be mainly recreational or even residential with the increase in popularity of house boats.

Other possibilities:

  • explore the locality on Google Maps, identifying different types of land use
  • go for a fact-finding walk and take photographs showing different types of land use locally
  • take drawing materials instead of devices and make sketches in the local environment
  • investigate or find examples of the changing use of land locally

Now, share the endpaper and title page slides.

  • Does this remind you of anything? (The children should recognise that this setting contextualises the picture they discussed in the hook lesson.)
  • Can you locate any of the features from the picture we looked at?
  • What is in this picture that wasn’t shown in the previous picture?
  • Are there any clues in this picture that tell us what the land is used for?

Allow the children to discuss ideas and offer prompts to encourage them to think more deeply. Depending on their responses, you might ask:

  • Where do you think this is?
  • Does it remind you of anywhere you have been or perhaps seen in books or films?
  • Why would anyone want to live here?
  • Why would a house be built so close to a railway?
  • What might the railway be used for?
  • Does the land look good for farming?
  • What might the benefits of living here be?
  • What might the problems of living here be?

Final reflection

At the end of the lesson, summarise the main points and introduce the book you will start reading in the next lesson.


Key vocabulary

residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, farming

settlement, land use

Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words 
Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


Land Use

A slideshow with slides illustrating the five main land uses plus the endpaper and title page slides from Greenling

Land Uses


Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

Read more