Last year the RSPB showed the wide range of benefits to children of them having contact with nature. Our ‘Every Child Outdoors’ report brought together lots of research on the positive impacts on children’s learning, physical and mental health, and development of interpersonal skills – as well as the worrying decline in children’s contact with nature.
Now, the Co-operative has released a new survey showing that children want to learn more about the environment, but in many cases their parents struggle to know the answers to their questions.
So, what steps will you be taking to help children learn more about nature, and what would help you to do even more?
So you’ve got your classroom all sorted, you’ve labelled the drawers, dusted the books and changed your displays, but have you thought about the space outside your window?
The grounds of schools can sometimes be damp and dismal places, with little reason for cheer. However, I know some schools have done amazing things for the wildlife visiting their school grounds; we’ve seen even the smallest corner turn into something wonderful for wildlife. Any step you take for nature in your school grounds, no matter how big or small could count towards our Wildlife Action Awards for Schools.
For a simple start why not try making some earwig homes with your class? They could decorate them however you choose, little brightly coloured homes at differing heights could make a very attractive feature and bring your students a bit closer to the minibeasts that call your school home.
How about being a little more adventurous and getting your class involved in making a structure for their nature spotting, like this hide made by the students at Middleton St. Mary’s C of E primary school?
Perhaps you have lots of creative types who could put a big thumbs up to recycling, and make an igloo out of plastic bottles like this one at Woolenwick Infant and Nursery school.
Here’s the entrance to Woolenwick Infant and Primary school’s Nature trail, an amazing example of utilizing your school grounds for nature. Read about how they turned their school grounds into a haven for nature which is shared by the whole community, in conjunction with the RSPB’s Wildlife Action Award scheme. Why not follow their example and provide some water for wildlife?
Let us know if you’ve adapted your grounds in any way, or if you’re thinking about it, through our Outside spaces forum.
Blogger: Sarah Newton, Youth Project Officer
WildSquare is the RSPB’s new children’s nature offering. It is a national bi-monthly survey aimed at helping children to discover the fascinating nature on their doorstep without being bamboozled by technical terms, tricky identifications or time limits. It’s a simple and fun way to get your class or group outside, engaging with nature and developing their observational skills.
At this time of year most children will be in new classes with new teachers. Completing a WildSquare survey can be an excellent way of getting children doing something a little bit different and bonding as a class and it’s a perfect activity to make the most of the last of the warm bright weather.
This month we’re asking children to look at changes in the environment that tell us that autumn is coming. They need to look for creepy crawlies under logs and stones and in dark damp places, how many different leaf colours there are and try to find some fungi.
This is the perfect time of year for fungi spotting, they love the damp conditions that we have right now and if your class like something to gross them out, or make them say 'wow', fungi is the stuff to do it.
Did you know...
For some other amazing fungi facts to impress your class with, have a look at the WildSquare blog.
Click here to find out more about WildSquare and to download a survey sheet.
Here in the Youth and Education team we are working really hard on some brilliant new resources which will be coming your way throughout the year (more updates to follow!). However, we already have a wealth of existing resources that you may or may not know about, so please have a look if you haven’t already.....
What we would be really interested to know is if you are planning anything nature friendly to do in school or with your youth group this year? Do you have something established which works really well that other people visiting this forum can learn from? How do you utilise your school grounds for nature and learning about nature? We’d be especially interested to know if you do anything to help birds and other animals visiting your school, particularly as the winter is fast approaching.
Maybe you’re not planning anything, and if that’s the case it would be really interesting to hear why not. It might be something you never really considered, or perhaps there are barriers stopping you?
Whatever your plans, story or experience, we’d love to hear about it!
A HUGE thank you to the Diss family (especially Matilda, Finty and Arthur) for their efforts in raising money for our Birds of Prey appeal! We were thrilled to hear your story this week, and we hope it will inspire some of the people who visit this blog to get out there and step up for nature!
This is Matilda Mary Diss, aged 9. Yesterday my sister and I made lots and lots of cookies and fairy cakes to sell on the roadside outside our house, in aid of Birds of Prey. We made our money boxes by colouring them in and gluing them together. We then set up a big table and stools outside our house and made a clear sign for people to read.
The next step was to start baking. We started at 9.30am making fairy cakes which had six eggs in them and cocoa and pink food colouring, as we wanted to make marbled fairy cakes. We got them in the oven as quickly as we could so that we could sell early. In the end the fairy cakes were ready before the cookies which was funny really as the sign said we had cookies and cakes for sale. Luckily no customers came to start with and we were able to get the cookies made using butter and sugar and flour and an egg and dipping them in melted chocolate so they looked really yummy.
Our first customers were my little brother Arthur and Daddy, they bought cakes and one biscuit and said they were delicious. The next customer was a couple who were enjoying a bank holiday walk and our little brother Arthur called them over to buy something from our cake stall. We forgot to tell them that the money was not for us!
Later our babysitter came and bought 10 biscuits and 10 cakes, we were delighted and shocked and worried our stocks would run out too early. We must explain that we live in the middle of nowhere! However Arthur and Finty did a good job of flagging cars and people down to purchase the cakes. We even had two cyclists who came back with money but sadly we had sold out and we were very embarrassed but they still gave us some money for Birds of Prey.
We enjoyed the day very much and we are delighted to let you know that we raised £27.24 we think this is fantastic. Mummy said she will donate the ingredients so we had a pure profit of £27.24. We will be sending you a cheque for this amount soon.
We hope this helps.
Love from Matilda Diss who made the cookies (aged 9), and her sister Finty Diss who made the cakes (aged 7).