Day 24-trail cam

Well today started off with bad messages over tv, social media that the UK is leaving the EU. I was rather saddened that so many people in my country are being so short sighted. But try to concentrate in the widlife with slugs greeting me outside the front door on the way to the car.

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At work I set up my new trail camera in the wooded area at the back of the school field. I captured some super fox photos. The fox coming up to pose infront of the camera. However when I returned home a formatting error meant I lost them all leaving me rather deflated. I will try again next week and try to capture some of the birds in the garden over the weekend.

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At the start of the day my class set up some food supplies for various animals to see what we could entice out. We left some jam out, some cucumber, and some biscuit crumbs. When we returned at lunch the ants had swarmed on the jam as hoped. The cucumber had attracted snails and the birds had come to the grass. The kids were delighted running back and forth between jam spots to see the ants progress.

I’ll finish today with an RSPB song. On a day where unity, strength together has failed I think it’s worth considering our international conservation efforts. Please click the link, donate if you feel the need.

Day 23-survey time

Today I had put aside the afternoon to teach my class about bees, their importance, identify several types and a look at bee anatomy. I had also planned in time for us to go outside and take part in the great British Bee Survey for Friends of the Earth as a class. I had previously scouted the field to see what types we were likely to see. I covered the identification of the white tail, honey bee, early bumble bee and wasp. Richard Louv talks about how identifying specific species is good for children in his book last child in the woods. Strangely looking at the different types did seem to be therapeutic for the children. Taking part in a survey will gain the children another point towards their RSPB wildlife action awards.

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illustration by Catherine Pape

 

 

Armed with clipboards and identification sheets we set out onto the school field ready to tally our sights. We took out a bin bag and the litter picker grabbing stick to help clear the field. We had read about how rubbish kills small mammals and they were keen to stop that happening. The children quickly tuned into looking at the tails as they realised we were mainly finding white tails and early bumble bees. On the whole they were pretty good at spotting an tallying fairly accurately (with the exception of one boy who thought everything was a wasp).

Returning to the classroom we looked at identifying the parts of the bee. They are rapidly developing super insect knowledge and more of them are using it when we’re out. They are gradually using more of the scientific language of habitat, prey, predators, herbivores, carnivores, thorax, abdomen, which is reassuring that some teaching is going in.

 

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We also found a super looking beetle. Flew off before I got a decent photo.

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And a nice looking wildflower.

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Day 22-wildflowers

Today we carried on our class National Insect Work writing about what we saw on our mini-beast hunt. Some super writing was produced with high levels of engagement from all. The kids are picking up the names of species new to them. There getting more used to where to look. When we first went out to look for snails they were a bit stand offish, not knowing what to do. Now there getting stuck in looking under leaves on plants, lifting stones, digging in the dirt. Things kids should know how to do already by the age of 5 and 6. They still show a preference for snails, but are keen on the hunt for beetles with our class pet.

I took another group put at dinner to develop their photography skills. This group mainly showed a fondness for wildflowers and mushrooms. So today was predominantly out of focus daisies, but they’re enjoying exploring the school fields edges which are normally off limits to them.

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The children have been very excited to see our coconut bird feeders are going down. We haven’t seen any birds on them, as 23 noisy children is enough to scare off most birds. But they can see it’s going down.

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We spent the afternoon sat out in the sun for sports day. Too hot for them, lots of tears when they didn’t win, but done and out of the way. A number of frogs for found in the grass where the kids were sat.

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A pretty good day for wild exploration.

 

 

Day 21-mini beast hunting

Today my class and I got out to hunt for mini-beasts. Try to get our national insect week under way properly. We took our pooters out to see what we could suck up to inspect. I reckon the ant and woodlice population to took a dramatic dive as a result of my class sadly. But they are learning lots. Their level of respect to the mini beasts have definitely gone up. But it wasn’t the insects that grabbed their attention. The south fence has long wet grass where we found a wealth of frogs. I discovered a number of the year 4 girls are superb at capturing frogs. I have a suspicious feeling I am going to be brought frogs for the next week.

 

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We found a moth with a keen attraction to one boy in the class Kept settling back onto him. Not sure what that says about his scent.

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One keen eyed child found some prints.

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Day 20-National Insect Week

Today we started our work in school on National Insect week. The kids had teaching assistant cover this morning while I was having my planning time out of the classroom. I’ve planned a snazzy bee survey later in the week which will contribute towards the Friends of the Earth bee survey. My class has also been working on gaining points towards RSPB wildlife action awards. The wildlife action awards involve a whole host of activities to encourage the RSPB’s every child outdoor hunt, from beach walks to bug hunts to writing letters to MP’s they cover a series of different elements to help nature. We have carried out a number already: sketching butterflies, growing flowers, bird watching, raising recycling awareness and a very messy session making pine cone bird feeders. This week our bee hunt will count towards the wildlife action awards as there is one point for taking part in a survey. Our bug hunting as part of National Insect Week will count for another and we are doing some litter picking for a third point in one week! I’m glad to say when I returned after dinner they were able to tell me what an entomologist was and what made an insect. A good start to the week.

RSPB wildlife action award booklet

After work I went to the post office in the centre of town and on the way back to the car took a small detour through Queen’s Gardens. I enjoyed the sight of a number of content ducks and pigeons. One pigeon seemed particularly keen to pose for photos.

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And in the murky depths something lurked!

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Back at home cooked tea, tidy around of baby things, then a bit of late night gardening. I found a moth in the water bucket, which I saved to put back in the ivy where it soon fluttered away from.IMG_20160620_185537

Day 19-Bee happy

Today has been a fairly boring day marking school books and planning lessons for next week. We are having a focus on National Insect Week. We’re going to become entomologists over the next week. The field guides are ready, the pooters are out and the magnifying glasses are ready.

We are starting tomorrow by discussing what an entomologist is and what we think we might see. Then Tuesday when the forecast is better we’ll be getting out to hunt. Then Wednesday and Thursday having a focus on habitats and making habitats for insects. Then Friday we’ll finish with looking back on our favourite and least favourite finds. Overall though leaving it loose so I can follow the children’s interests.

Literacy national insect week day 1 powerpoint

 

I’m using several of the lovely videos from the Royal Entomology Society to discuss our plans for next week.

With all my marking and planning haven’t had much of a chance for wildness. On the way back and forth to the car to take school books in and out I’ve logged  a few more bee sightings on the bee app. Yesterday I only spotted white tail bees, but today added honey bees to the species in the garden. I’m loving all the new varieties of wildlife and plants I’m discovering about through taking part in 30 days of wild. I’m also  getting more used to taking photos on my phone. Managed a nice level of detail on the white tailed bees wings.

Two honey bees

More white tailed bees

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And a random tiny snail.

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Day 18-The great British Bee Hunt

Today I joined the great British bee hunt which despite the similarity in title to the Great British Bake Off in involves no tasty baked good. As has been well documented bees are under many threats. Spring watch has currently been pushing the app. Friends of the Earth monitor numbers and type of bees buzzing around. I downloaded the app and recorded the number of bees in the garden. This is a nice little app. It has pictures of the different types of bees, so you can learn what the names are of the different bee species out there. I plan to take my class out some point next week to do some bee counting and could also see this being nice to do with your kids. Should be good fun tracking and tallying with the class.Trying to get the photo on my phone today was a bit trickier as the bees didn’t seem to want to be counted. I found 4 white tailed bees. Strangely satisfying doing my bit for science.

The app

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