As Schools Project Officer, based in the Birmingham Office, it's always encouraging when I hear from schools in the West Midlands about the fantastic things they have been inspired to do to help wildlife. It only takes a simple activity like a bird or bug survey to open children’s eyes to the amazing wildlife on their doorsteps, whether that be in the middle of the concrete jungle, or in their local green space, and once the children have been inspired, there’s no stopping the ideas that they come up with to help protect wildlife! Add to their ideas some encouragement from an enthusiastic adult or two, and you have a great recipe for making a huge difference for wildlife!
One school in particular really inspired me last year and I just had to share their fantastic idea, in the hope that it will inspire more groups to do the same. If you’re looking for a fun idea to help you raise money for our Save Birds of Prey Apeal, then read on!
Wings of Wonder!
Year 4 teachers at Holbrook Primary School in Coventry decided they would dedicate a whole term to their 'Nature's Voice' topic, which incorporated birds into various Curricular subjects, including Art & Design, Mathematics, English and ICT. The topic got going in January and when I went into work with them a couple of weeks later, the class had already made bird feeders for their school grounds and had been looking out for birds outside the classroom and on the way to school. On the day of the Big Schools' Birdwatch, it was blowing a gale outside and despite only seeing a few gulls and pigeons, this didn't curb the children's enthusiasm. When I went back to visit them in April, some of them knew more than me about birds of prey because, they told me, they had been taking it in turns to read aloud from the bird book every morning after registration!! Their enthusiasm was infectious! There had been such an improvement of knowledge during those few months, and the topic was all leading up to one very special event, (which is what I wanted to share with you) - Year 4's 'Wings of Wonder' bird workshop!
After learning about birds across the world and the threats to their habitats, the children in Year 4 were keen to raise money for the RSPB, whilst at the same time raising awareness throughout school and their local community. To do this, they came up with the idea of putting on a workshop one afternoon for their parents and the rest of the school to showcase what they had learnt. They asked me to come along too, but they already had their panel of 'bird experts' to answer people's questions, so I clearly wasn't needed!
As soon as 2.30 pm arrived, the students split into their groups and started setting up the stalls in their classroom. They had all thought of ideas for stalls to contribute to the workshop and with a large variety of different information stalls and activities to get involved in, it was like a mini summer fair!
Some children had made fairy cakes to sell, others had put together bird-related games for visitors to have a go at. There was a fact table with a panel of Year 4 experts who had been 'swotting up' and could tell you all sorts of amazing facts about birds, and a stall demonstrating how to make plastic bottle bird feeders. If the visitors at the workshop fancied being creative, they were shown how to make a flapping origami bird, or they could do some painting.
As the children were setting up all their stalls, I was amazed at just how much they had engaged with the topic and were so keen to get other people excited about birds too. Their enthusiasm was infectious and because they were obviously taking it all so seriously, it was clearly engaging the parents too and they were keen to ask me where they could go locally with their families to watch birds and learn more about wildlife.
So that I didn't feel out of place, I had taken along a sunflower seed activity which the parents seemed to love just as much as the children! The idea was to colour in the sunflower and stick some sunflower seeds to the card to plant when they got home. Sunflowers are fantastic for bees and other insects, and birds such as goldfinches, so it was great that so many families took the seeds home to plant in their gardens!
Each activity asked for a small donation and I was thrilled when I received some letters from the children a few weeks later telling me how much they had raised!
'Dear RSPB, I am writing on behalf of my class to say we have raised £51.28! I had a lot of fun with you working about birds and having an exhibition. The class were very upset when the topic ended. I had a lot of fun doing the exhibition and those bird cards were very useful. Some of the birds I didn't even know existed!'
Well done Year 4 on a great effort and thank you for raising money for the RSPB! The workshop was truly inspired, made a great end-of-topic celebration and really helped to raise the profile of the RSPB's work and inspire families and other pupils to do more to care for the birds in their gardens. The consistent work throughout the term had really consolidated the children's knowledge.
If you'd like to do something similar to raise money for the RSPB, then why not use some of the activities available for download on our Youth pages? It doesn't have to be bird-related - why not have a wider wildlife theme? Link in the workshop preparation to curriculum subjects. Or, if you come up with your own ideas for raising money, please share them with us!! If you can link your fundraising to spreading the message about caring for wildlife, even better!!