Learning

Learning

Learning
Bringing children and nature together

Learning

  • Guest post from The Coach House Day Nursery Forest School

    The children at The Coach House Day Nursery Forest School took part in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch.  Leading up to the survey the Forest School leaders talked to the children about counting the birds.  They made bird feeders to encourage as many types of birds as they could in the weeks leading up to the bird count.  The group of children went out into the Forest.

    First they listened to see if they could hear the bird calls and they followed the sounds.  The children were given a sheet with pictures of the birds and they then had to count and mark down each time they saw one of the birds shown on the sheet.  The children crept up behind the trees and bushes in an attempt not to scare the birds away, trying to be as quiet as they could. 

    The Coach House Forest School will send their results off to the RSPB to be included in their count.

    We saw;

    1 Magpie,

    1 Robin

    1 Blackbird,

    2 Wood pigeons 

    5  Blue tits

  • Guest post from St Comgall's Primary School

    We’d like to say a big thank you to RSPB Northern Ireland for coming to St Comgall's Primary School in Bangor and doing the Schools' Birdwatch with the P3 children. They enjoyed learning about the different birds, what they look like and the songs they sing.

    Since the visit, the children have helped keep the feeding stations full of seeds etc. and we plan to make some of the bird pastry into wiggly worms to help make St Comgall's a long term home for the birds.

    We also got great advice on how to use the survey to support our action plan for the biodiversity topic of Eco Schools. Based on the results of the survey, we are providing winter feeding in suspended feeders (nuts, seeds and pastry in pinecones) for our magpies, blue tits, finches, starlings and house sparrows. 

    Our school already welcomes starlings, which are nesting under our roof. We plan to build a terrace of nestboxes for our house sparrows as we understand they are finding life difficult and perhaps nest boxes for our robin, blue tits and great tits too. 

    Our Eco Committee is having fun at the moment creating a bug hotel to provide minibeast food  for all species to feed their young in the spring. The teachers have been having fun suggesting suitable names like "Bitz Hotel", "Grand Bug and Pest Hotel”, “The Radisson Bluebottle” and of course book a stay on “Exmillipedeia”!

     

    Fionnuala Taylor-Wilson

  • Ideas for your Big Schools' Birdwatch

    As I’m sure you’re aware, there are three different ID resources available for children to take part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch. There are ID cards aimed at ages five and under, a poster aimed at 6 – 11 year olds and a poster aimed at ages 11 and older. All you have to do is register at our website to take part: http://www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch/

    This post suggests a few ideas that you could use with your class or group. I’ve been thinking of ages 6 – 11 whilst writing it, but I’m sure some of the activities could be differentiated or adjusted for older or younger children.

     

    Art

     

    Design & Technology

    There are various bird food and bird feeder ideas on our website, ranging from the very simple (for quick sessions or younger children) to the much more involved and complicated. Here are a set of ideas ranging from simple to more complicated.

    • Making crumbly pastry maggots. An incredibly simple recipe (only two ingredients!) quick and easy, and lets children get their hands dirty.
    • Create and edible picture for birds to eat. Once again, very simple. All that is needed is lard or vegetable fat and some bird seed – as well as a base to draw your pictures on. The instructions say to use a piece of wood, but stout card should work well (as long as the weather’s not to wet!)
    • Make pine cone bird feeders. Make some simple bird food (mix lard and bird seed) and press it into the crack of a pine cone. Tie string to the top and hang it from a tree for birds to feed from.
    • Construct a suet and nut log. One for small groups of children, and probably older children. Involves use of a few tools, as well as several more ingredients for the bird food.

    Other craft ideas for bird food and bird feeders from around the web:

     

    Numeracy

    Big Schools’ Birdwatch provides an excellent starting point for numeracy activities. The event itself involves collecting data (number of birds seen) and this could be recorded on our tally sheet. From that, your class could make a table and a graph (pictogram, block graph, bar chart etc., depending on the age and ability of your children). If more than one class in your school is taking part, then get each class to make a graph and compare them. You could then make a graph of birds seen by the entire school!

    In fact, if your school takes part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch and submits your results, you are given access on our website to a suite of graphing programs. You will be able to compare your class’s data with the average for all the schools in the UK, as well as separating the data out into England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. If your class took part last year, then you will be able to compare this year’s data with the data you submitted last year. All of these are suitable for use on interactive whiteboards.

     

    Literacy

    If your class is currently, or about to start, working on non-chronological reports, then consider writing reports about common garden birds. There are plenty of common birds that your children could see every day – you could split your class into groups and give each group a bird to research and write about. There is plenty of information about every single British bird on the RSPB website; for example, here are the pages for robin,starling and blackbird.

    Or, if your class is currently looking at poetry, then perhaps you could think of writing acrostics for different birds seen during the Birdwatch? Acrostics provide structure for younger writers, and can be a quick registration-type activity for older children. Alternatively, you could use birds as inspiration for a larger and more powerful piece of poetic writing, more in the style of Ted Hughes’ ‘Pike’.

     

    Science

    Big Schools’ Birdwatch provides a wealth of opportunities for links to science. You could, for example, try the following investigations::

    • Fill two feeders with different types of bird food to see which one is favoured by birds, or whether different birds favour different foods. Keep the style of feeder and the amount of food the same to ensure a fair test.
    • Fill two different feeders with the same type and amount of food to see if birds favour a one design of bird feeder more than the other. Try to situate the feeders in a similar location to keep the test as fair as possible.
    • Have the same style of feeder, with the same type and amount of food in each, and locate them in different areas on the school grounds – which site gets the most traffic from birds?
    • Fill different shaped or coloured receptacles with water to see which birds prefer to drink or bathe from.

    Big Schools’ Birdwatch can also link into other areas of the science curriculum, where it could help meet objectives for ‘Living things and their habitats’ and ‘Animals, including humans’. There’s no point in me listing every single individual connection, but honestly, go have a look!

     

    If you don’t yet have hold of a Big Schools’ Birdwatch Id resource, it can be requested, for free, via the 'register now' button on the Big Schools' Birdwatch website. The resource aims to help children identify the birds they’ve seen, and everything else you might need is available via download from our website – counting sheets, bird food recipes, assembly pack etc.,

    If you an your class undertake any of the activities mentioned above, or come up with your own activities connected to Big Schools’ Birdwatch, please let me know. I’d love to publish a guest post on the blog!

    Keep up to date by following us on Twitter @RSPB_Learning