Enchanted Kingdom eBook – Part 1: Enter the Mysterious Forests of Central Africa

Last month we told you all about the series of educational aids Microsoft has developed in partnership with teaching school Broadclyst Primary in Devon, using BBC Earth Films’ 3D spectacular, Enchanted Kingdom. While the film itself is not scheduled for general release until later this year, the lesson plans and learning objectives within the accompanying eBook can still be put into practice in the classroom without having seen the Enchanted Kingdom. With this in mind, we will be serialising the eBook on this blog in the coming weeks, based on the eight separate ‘Enchanted Kingdom’ projects that it is divided into.

If you are like the cheetah, and would rather sprint your way through the content and project at great speed, then the complete eBook is available and can be found on our Microsoft in Education SlideShare account. If however you are more closely aligned to the elephant, and would prefer to enjoy the Enchanted Kingdom at a gentler pace, then you can simply wait for the weekly blog posts covering one section at a time.

So let us begin our journey through the Enchanted Kingdom eBook together…

Chapter 1: Enter the Mysterious Forests of Central Africa

Enchanted Kingdom ch1-1

Ch1 - gorilla The first kingdom explored by the film is the forests of central Africa. We are taken to a MYSTERIOUS FOREST to discover that even in the spookiest and most overwhelming places, we can find familiarity and friends. The stars of the mysterious forest realm are the enchanting gorillas. For them the forest is a comfortable forest home. The lush greenery provides plenty of food, so they don’t have to work hard to find meals and have plenty of time to relax and socialise. They are like us in many ways – eyes, faces, hands. They live in family groups and are gentle and caring for each other. The youngsters use the forest as a giant climbing frame in which to play. The whole family is protected by a silverback male who keeps everyone under control. In this project, students will capture the movement, behaviour and characteristics of nature. They write up their discoveries which will include photos, video and audio narration.

Learning objectives: Explore the requirements of plants for life and growth (air, light, water, nutrients from soil, and room to grow) and how they vary from plant to plant.
Project aim/question: Survival of the fittest: What impact do plants have on each other and their environment, when in close proximity?
Key language:
Competition, Growth, Repair, Nutrients, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide.

STAGE 1: Competition in the Mysterious Forest

The centre of Africa is covered with a vast tropical rainforest. The forest grows so lush and intense because of constant strong tropical sun, warmth and almost daily downpours of rain. Everything is battling for space/food/light. i.e. competition is intense.

  • After watching the Mysterious Forest segment of Enchanted Kingdom, discuss with the class the challenges faced by different plants in the ecosystem (lack of light, etc.).
  • Explain that you will be investigating this competition. Ask students to discuss how they would test the impact that plants have on each other (groups can record the conversation using OneNote).
  • Introduce key language to facilitate the discussions. 8Enchanted Kingdom Projects

STAGE 2: Creating your own competitive environment

  • Select a suitable container or patch in the school grounds and help students prepare the ground.
  • Plant a range of organisms in close proximity.
  • Let students plant the seeds and water their garden (plant pots could be used instead).
  • You can use TimeLapse to make observations of the plant growth and compare the changes over time.
  • At the same time, measure quantitative data such as the height and colour of plants as they grow (to be graphed later).

Students are to answer key questions:

  1. What happens to the leaves and petals once the sun comes out?
  2. What changes happen over time?
  3. What are the changes to a plant if it is not given enough water and nutrients?

Students can capture findings using OneNote.

STAGE 3: Capturing your school’s very own Enchanted world

  • In groups students are to capture their enchanted discoveries from STAGE 1 and 2. They can use Office Mix to create an interactive presentation. The presentation should depict the beauty and wonder that surrounds their local natural environment.
  • Once published, presentations can be uploaded to a shared area, such as OneDrive, to be evaluated and reviewed by peers. Office Mix OneDrive

Enrichment activities:

Art and Design: Take photos of all the diverse plant species found in your school yard, park and local woods. Use can AutoCollage to create a picture collage of the photos. Hold a competition inviting parents and community members to name all the plants in your collage.

Science: Great opportunity to cover the process of Photosynthesis. Students can use Corinth Micro Plant to explore enormously magnified images, fully 3D interactive models of tree, leaf, leaf sections and plant cells.

Enchanted Kingdom ch1-3 

Suggested curriculum links:
- Computing PoS: Use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content.
- English PoS: Retrieving, recording and presenting information from non-fiction.

Differentiation guidelines: Support for less able students should take the form of shared planning with a teacher or member of support staff. Ensure that students have ample rehearsal time to build their confidence. Students who struggle significantly with confidence could present using a pre-prepared Office Mix. In order to challenge more able students, teachers should be prepared to take a step back and allow groups to take ideas and run with them. They should also be encouraged to present in an unscripted way, challenging them to gain and monitor the attention of their audience, interacting with and questioning them

Bonus video content:

Broadclyst Community Primary School, one of our Microsoft Showcase Schools, developed the Enchanted Kingdom lesson plans within the education aids and tested them in a classroom environment. In this video, the students from Broadclyst talk us through their experiences of the lesson plans:

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