Explorers wanted! Create your own Expedition Diaries with Simon Chapman

What could be more exciting than being an explorer? Simon Chapman is a writer, illustrator and explorer and his appetite for adventure has taken him all over the world, from untravelled corners of the Amazon basin to the treacherous peaks of the Himalayas.

However, you don’t have to travel to exotic places to be an explorer. You can apply exactly the same practices and preparation for an exploratory trip to your local woodland or coastline as you would for an expedition to the jungle!  

These activities are based on Simon’s exciting new series Expedition Diaries and have been suggested by Simon to help you plan and carry out your own expedition. The activities can be used as part of KS2 projects on biomes such as the rainforest, deserts and mountains, or simply for exploring your local area. 

Think like an explorer: planning your trip

Good planning is essential for a successful trip! Using data on the area you plan to travel in will help you make decisions about where to go and what to take.

Exercise 1. Using data to make decisions about where and when to travel
Imagine you are planning a trip to Kakadu National Park in Australia. Use the information in the text and the graph to find out when the best time to travel there would be.

The line at the top shows temperature in °C, the scale is on the right hand side of the chart (27°C is hotter than summer in the UK!)

The blue bars show rainfall in millimetres.

Text extract: “From here, the Adelaide River and the Mary River (which isn’t far to the east) wind their way northwards to the Timor Sea. On my map the rivers are just shown as blue dashed lines because every November they change their courses when the rainy season hits.

Over the next few months the rivers burst their banks and everywhere turns into a huge swampy lake. This is the time of the year when crocodiles have been known to turn up in the middle of Darwin!

Now, in August, it’s the middle of the dry season, the rivers are flowing down this year’s channels and the crocodiles are all along them and easy to see.”

Now, fill out your answers to decide when the best time of year to travel would be:

  1. The graph tells me that…
  2. The text box tells me…
  3. The best time of the year to visit Kakadu is…
  4. I think this because…

Exercise 2. Planning your kit
Imagine you are travelling to the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia for an expedition. Make a list of the features of a rainforest biome to help you decide what kit you would need to take.

Things to think about: what the terrain is like, which animals live there, what is the climate like?

Now, look at Simon’s kit and compare your lists – how well do they match up? Why has Simon chosen to take this kit?

Simon’s Kit:

  • Two sets of clothes, lightweight and easy to dry. One set for the day time, the other to keep clean and wear after making camp
  • Light boots with good grip
  • Sandals for canoeing
  • Mosquito net and hammock
  • Sunhat, mosquito repellent, medical kit including anti-malaria pills

Is there anything that you would add to this list?

Think like an explorer: Keeping a diary

Why keep a diary? Although photographs are great, a diary or journal is a really important way to document things that you can’t catch on camera, such as the way somewhere smells or exactly how you feel after seeing something for the first time. It can also help you keep track of the days if you’re off on a lengthy trip!

Exercise 3. Write a page from your own expedition diary
Your diary can be about an imaginary trip that you want to do, or something you have already done.

  • Make sure you write in the present tense to make the action feel real and immediate.
  • Remember to illustrate your diary page with:
    • Drawings and sketches of what you see
    • Photos – these can be your own or you could download them from the internet
    • Maps and diagrams of the area to show what’s going on

 Here’s an example of Simon’s diary to give you some ideas:

Ready to get started? Download the diary template here and use it to write your own.

CHECKLIST: has your diary page got the following things?

  1. A date
  2. Information on where you are
  3. Description – what can you see, hear, smell, etc
  4. What are you doing? There needs to be some sort of story
  5. Factual information about the local plants and animals you can see
  6. Sketches/photos/diagrams/maps

About Expedition Diaries

The Expedition Diaries series is a great way to introduce the world’s biomes and habitats to children, direct from someone who’s actually been in them – sometimes up to his neck! Aimed at readers aged 9+, these books are perfect for sparking interest in this key school topic.

Find out more:
Expedition Diaries: Himalayan Mountains  9781445156781 (HB, £13.99)
Expedition Diaries: Amazon Basin 9781445156149 (HB, £13.99)
Expedition Diaries: Indian Lowlands 9781445156828 (HB, £13.99. Available Feb 2018)
Expedition Diaries: Australian Outback 9781445156842 (HB, £13.99. Available Feb 2018)
Expedition Diaries: African Savannah 9781445156866 (HB, £13.99. Available July 2018)
Expedition Diaries: Borneo Rainforest  9781445156804 (HB, £13.99. Available July 2018)

Win the first two books in the Expedition Diaries series – Himalayan Mountains and Amazon Basin! Simply email education@hachettechildrens.co.uk to be entered into the draw, which will be made on 30th November 2017. Open to UK residents only. 

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG. 



One response to “Explorers wanted! Create your own Expedition Diaries with Simon Chapman”

  1. Jane Rew says:

    I’ve read the blog and may well suggest it to teachers when they visit our Forest School with their classes. Many thanks