The Great Tea Race
 by R. Watson
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In the middle of the 19th Century fast sailing ships called clippers raced all the way from Foochow (South China Coast) to London to bring the first tea crops of the season. A fast cargo meant a fast profit (approx. £8.00 per pound for the first shipments) Clipper ships were some of the finest sailing vessels developed . Sailing had reached its heyday in that century and wind/sail equations were a fine art. Some of the fastest clippers could log 15 knots on a good day (average speed for a cargo ship today approx. 18+ under power ((steam or oil etc.,))
Below You will find complete instructions on how to set up this reading scheme.
Please feel free to use this with your school.


A complete display of the course in the form of a sailing route incorporating major features of such a voyage would be a good idea if you could get a large map. We have one on the library and we have made each noon position light up when you press a numbered button. However just a large map with some tape indicating the route (round Cape Horn in this case) and small circles to indicate noon positions The noon positions below are roughly worked to the nearest whole degree °
Noon Positions Geographical Area Pages Read
N/N  51° N  1° E Ramsgate  300
N/N  49° N  5° E  Bay Of Biscay 600 
N/N  44° N 10° 10° W Bay Of Biscay 900 
N/N  38° N 9° W  Lisbon  1,200 
N/N  28° N 15° W Canary Isles 1,500 
N/N  26° N 12° W  Cape Verde Isle (Entering the Doldrums) 1,800
N/N  22° N 19° W Cape Blanc 2,100
N/N   9°  N 18° W Sierra Leone 2,400 
N/N   0°  N 10°W CROSSING THE LINE  2,700
N/N   8°  S 3°W The Gulf Of Guinea 3,000
N/N  15° S 5°E St Helena Isle  3,300
N/N  22° S 12° E Tropic of Capricorn (Leaving the Doldrums) 3,600
N/N  33° S 18°E Capetown Cape-Of-Good-Hope 3,900
N/N  33° S 27°E East London (West Coast Africa) 4,200
N/N  30° S 38°E Near Madagascar (Mozambique Channel) 4,500
N/N  20° S 57°E Indian Ocean ( Near Mauritius) 4,800
N/N  18° S 70°E Rodriguez Isle  5,100
N/N  17° S 80°  Indian Ocean "Water Water everwhere" 5,400
N/N  12° S 97°E Near Cocos Isle  5,700
N/N    6° S 106°E Near Djakarta (Sumatra) Krakatoa!!!!! 6,000
N/N  10° N 110°E  South China Sea (Off Borneo)  6,300
N/N  23° N 120°E Formosa (East China Sea) 6,600
N/N  26° N 119°E Foochow 6,900
Each player can be represented by a small clipper icon (named or numbered) which could be fitted with some adhesive property (perhaps a magnet) and their progress could be indicated weekly on a large board divided into sections as below. You need a wall for this but if you wish to leave this bit out... look at the spreadsheet option later..
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
    Each sheet on the board could be divided into 5 degrees of longitude each degree
    representing 60 pages (minutes)

Example:--- Sheet 1 from the above set of 26 sheets (A0 size sugar paper)

Each Cell is 60 Minutes... or sixty pages. Whole sheet = 5 degrees of movement

Each sheet would be divided as above and the pupils could be represented as small ship-shapes and stuck on with blue-tack (we used magnets on a metal radiator).

When the pupil has read 300 pages they move to the next sheet. You can make the game even more demanding by making each player read a set number of pages to "Clear the port of London" .

There are several possible methods of adding rewards to the scheme at various points.
Some suggestions :-
Readers can travel faster if they are reading something pertinent to the area they are traveling in. That is if you are reading about the slave trade and that is your location add 10 degrees. Readers could be employed in some activity related to every sheet. e.g. If a reader reaches the Ramsgate N/N position allow them to wear holiday clothes for a day. There are all sorts of possibilities in this area. It would also be possible to select out several random rewards every week ...
i.e. "favourable winds mean you are able to make greater speed ... move on two degrees " the bay of Biscay was calm today move on a degree" etc., and.... also.....penalties

Krakatoa is about to erupt make a course for safety. go back two degrees (unless you read about a volcano) etc.,
A "think-tank" on rewards could produce more and they could be added as the game progressed.
In our scheme we involve the Language department and make the children read a small book in French or German before they can get out of the "Horse Latitudes" (between the tropics).
We also allowed children to log any pages that a teacher had read to them and any pages that they could prove they had read to a younger child. Reading in groups was also encouraged where one child would read to the others etc.,

We also included graduated movement through the ranks as below. The ranks were noted on a badge and just to keep up the theme the badges were designed using the signal flags for the grades: i.e. A Deck Hand would be given a badge with the signal flags DH displayed on it and the child would be given a small badge with the signal flags JOS when they had read 1,200 pages. The flags were easy to make using paint-brush and two out-lines and a colour printer. The official signal flags are in many books usually around the Morse-code sections....

Ratings we used on the voyage:- 
Please see example badge for Ordinary Sailor O/S
600 Pages  Deck Hand
1,200 Pages  Junior Ordinary Sailor
1,800 Pages Ordinary Sailor
2,400 Pages Able Bodied Sailor
3,000 Pages Petty Officer
3,600 Pages Middy (Apprentice Deck Officer)
4,200 Pages 4th Officer
4,800 Pages 3rd Officer
5,400 Pages 2nd Officer
6,000 Pages  1st Officer
6,600 Pages  Master
6,900 Pages Extra Master

At school I also designed a book of spread-sheets in Excel that listed all the names of all the classes involved and ran to 8 pages (one for each group of children)

The spreadsheet its easy to make. You simple divide it up into 26 sections. Each section is headed by the noon position of that sheet (see above) each section is 5 cells (it's quite long) and when a child has completed 60 pages simply insert a mark in that cell. We used an icon of a book (it's one of the icons that is available in Excel). The spreadsheet was a good idea as it was possible to network it through the school and let children log on anywhere to see how they were doing. Being such a big project we got two pupils to collect weekly reading scores off the form tutors and input them onto the sheet.

As a back up to the board race and the spread sheet I also designed a small "Sailing log" that was divided into a five degree page something like this

The pages were divided up into 60 small squares and the children kept shading in each square till they reached 60 and then got an adult to sign it (if the adult was satisfied that the reading/listening had been done)

If you find this idea useful please feel free to implement it at your school.. 

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