CLIL: The 1953 North Sea Flood

1953 North Sea Flood

In this CLIL lesson, your children will practise describing pictures of the 1953 North Sea Flood (Watersnoodramp). Let's go back in time and find out more!

Content aims

  • 1 Assess pictures taken during and after the 1953 North Sea Flood.
  • 2 Empathise with the people who suffered during and after the 1953 North Sea Flood.

Language aims

  • 1 Recognise and use words connected to flooding.
  • 2 Describe pictures verbally and in writing.


  • Link to Wikipedia
  • Pictures of people (especially children), animals, boats and the landscape during and after the 1953 North Sea Flood
  • Paper and pens
  • Optional: Personal files if the children can read and write

Words and structures for the children

1. Language of learning

Lexical groupWords and structures
Picturesin the / this picture, you can see, on the left, on the right, in the middle, at the top, at the bottom
Weathercloud - cloudy, rain - rainy, storm - stormy, sun - sunny, wind - windy, cold, freezing, ice cold
Placeshere, there; behind, between, in, in front of, near, next to, on, on top of, under; north, south, east, west
Worldwater, high tide, flood, sun, moon; country, the Netherlands, Great Britain; town, city, road, street, building, house, farm; field, tree, sea, river, coast, sand, land, island in the water / on a roof / in a boat / …
Transporta boat, a car, a bus, a lorry / a truck, a plane, drive, run, row, sail, swim, wade, walk
StructuresThere is / are …; It - He - She is / They are [present continuous] They are rowing / sitting / wading / waiting / …

2. Language for learning

Shall we work together / take notes / use this picture / …?

Shall I look it up/ write / ask the teacher / …?

We need a pen / a pencil / glue / a dictionary.

Do we need to look it up / write it down / spell it correctly / …?

Great job. Very good. Well done!

I think you can do better / this isn’t a very good sentence.

The sentence says something / little / nothing about the picture.

I think you should say / write it like this: …..

3. Language through learning

Make sure that your children have a personal file to note down new words and expressions they come across while learning.


NrStepsWhat you could say as a teacher
1AIMS Tell the children what today's aims are.Today we're going to talk about the history of Zeeland, which is also a big part of the history of the Netherlands. It's about the sea and the land.
2ACTIVATE THE LANGUAGE Tell the children to think of the province of Zeeland. Get the children to work in pairs and write down words. Draw a word web on the board with ‘Zeeland’ in the middle and five big balloons. Each big balloon has several other smaller balloons attached to it. Write ‘water’ in one of the big balloons. Set a time limit. Ask each pair to pick their best word. Copy the words below the word web. When you have finished, categorise the words and copy them in the word web. Categories could be: water, weather, buildings, food, and so on. Add more words. Offer feedback and praise. File the word web for future reference.We're going to talk about the province of Zeeland. What words come to mind when you think of Zeeland? Work in pairs. One of you is going to write a word and then pass the piece of paper to your buddy. Then your buddy’s going to write a word. If you don’t know, your buddy will help you. Here’s some paper. Please, use one pen between the two of you. Each pair is going to share a word. Choose your best word. I’m going to write it down here first. Later, we’re going to sort out the words. Which words in this list belong to ‘water’? Which words could we write here? What other categories can we think of? Great job!
3ACTIVATE THE CONTENT Speak Dutch to introduce the topic of the ‘Watersnoodramp’ if this is their first lesson on the topic. Ask the children what they already know about it. Show some pictures and describe them in some detail. Also ask how the people in the picture might be feeling or how they would feel if they were in a situation like that. Then summarise part of the conversation in English.
4INPUT Go online to Wikipedia > Watersnood van 1953. Scan the pictures on the page. Also look at the pictures of Great Britain in some detail: did the children know that other countries suffered in 1953 too? Then click on language in the left hand column and change it to English. Read the title and the first paragraphs aloud yourself. (Don’t expect the children to be able to read a text they have never seen before aloud.) Stop after each sentence and ask the children to discuss what the sentence means. Also ask them to write down words they recognise individually. Finally, ask them to write down one new important word or phrase.Okay, I can click here and then the language changes to English. This doesn’t mean that the text is the same; someone else wrote about the ‘Watersnoodramp’ in English. As you can see it is called the 1953 North Sea Flood in English. Let’s read part of the text together. After I’ve read a sentence aloud, I want you to talk to your buddy and discuss what I have read. I also want you to get your personal files and write down one or two keywords you recognise, for example storm or Saturday or flood. [Read a sentence aloud and give them thinking time.] Who can tell me what this sentence means? Please try to say it in English or act it out. You can also say it in Dutch. What word/s have you written down?
5PRACTICE Get the children to work in pairs. They need to produce one sentence based on the information they have just heard. Walk around while the children are working. Check, give help and feedback, focussing on the content.You're going to work in pairs. You’ve just heard a lot of information. I would like you to write down one sentence with some information about the 1953 North Sea Flood. Okay? Don’t worry about your spelling just yet. Who would like to read their sentence first? What do the other children think of this sentence? Is the information true? Is it a good sentence? Well done! Thank you for sharing.
6INPUT Show one picture taken during or just after the flood. Also offer the sentence frame and examples: In this picture, you can see … There are six people in a boat. Three people are rowing. Describe the picture or encourage the children to describe it, using the sentence frame and examples. Continue with a few other pictures.We’re going to talk about and write about a picture. Here are some words and sentences to help us. Let’s read them together: I read the word and then you repeat after me.. Here is a picture. How can we describe it? In the picture, you can see …
7PRACTICE Show a few more pictures. Give the children time to think of sentences individually, to share with a partner and then with the whole group (think – pair – share). Writing it down may help the children, but if they have little experience in writing, don’t force them. Write the best sentences down on the board. Make sure you focus on the keywords and structures.I’ve given you a few examples and now you can try it in pairs. Okay?
8PRODUCTION Put the keywords on the board to support your children. Hand out pictures to pairs. Each pair is going to say and/or write one sentence about the picture. After three minutes, two pairs are going to work together and assess each other’s work. Show them which sentences they can use to give feedback. Get the children to use the feedback and change their sentences. Walk around while the children are working. Give help and feedback, focussing on the language of learning and for learning.In a minute, I’m going to hand out some pictures, one picture for each pair. You are going to work together and describe the picture. Practise it aloud / Write it down (and check the spelling). Then share your sentence with another pair. They will tell you if the sentence is okay or if you can do better. Look at the board for sentences to help you. Use the feedback to make a better sentence.
9ASSESSMENT Stop the writing and discussion. Ask a few children to show their picture and to read their sentences. Give feedback yourself and ask the other children to give feedback too. Finally, ask the children to hand in their work.Who would like to show their picture and tell us something about it?
10EVALUATION You can do this in English or Dutch. Ask the children which part they liked best: listening, reading, writing, working together, working with the pictures. Ask the children what their experience was like. Ask the children if they have learnt anything, like new words or new facts. Give them time to write new words in their personal files.We did a lot of things: we learnt new words and did some listening, speaking, reading and writing. What did you like best? Anyone? You had some time to work on your own, in pairs and in groups. What was that like? What was it like, learning about a disaster like the 1953 North Sea Flood. Can you compare it to anything happening now? Who's learnt something new? It's time to write any new words in your personal files. Write the new word and give an example sentence or make a drawing. Use your best handwriting.

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