30 days wild: day 16-den day

Today has been Save the Children den day. We took part at school as my first stay and play as EYFS coordinator. Before the kids came in we got out the kit. We had lots of tarps and curtains. We got the crates out and tables out.

We have dividers designed for splitting areas inside up. We assemble these into frames for the children to use as a starting point for dens.

 

We covered the picnic table with a tarp and set up a pop up tent for the lazier children.

 

One of the other teachers had come up with the idea of having knot examples.

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We just aimed to provide enough of a starting point for the children to take it and build a den with a degree of independence.

The children and parents were wonderful working nicely together and coming up with lots of different dens.

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Using the room dividers worked well as a frame for the dens. The kids were able to use these and pegs to make decent dens with just a small support.

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The parachute made for a big den for lots of children at once.

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The mud kitchen ended up covered.

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This was a pop up football goal put to better use.

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The most solid award goes to a den built by one of the older brothers who came. He was great with the kids and helped build a whole run of dens.

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Both kids, staff and parents have had a great morning. I think a lot of the parents were a bit disappointed to see their dens dismantled at the end of the day. We had some really positive feedback, which is nice to hear. A lot of prep goes into these days, so it was good to see it appreciated. Many of the parents were talking about carrying on with dens at home. This was lovely to hear and hopefully means moreover more children outside.

30 days wild: day 15-cloud watching

Day 15 brings us to half way through 30 days wild. It’s going fast. I started early with a bowl of Jordan’s granola outside on the patio. Jordans, as well as making tasty granola, also support the wildlife trust. They put aside part of their land for wildlife. While enjoying my breakfast I listened to the birdsong. I’ve been trying to improve my recognition by sound. I recognised the blackbirds, sparrows, pigeons and seagulls. There was one I don’t know, but I think it might of been some form of tits. I also engaged in the wild act of cloud gazing. The moon was still visible. The previous act of finding something blue would have been easy today. The clouds today were the nice big fluffy white variety of Andy’s wallpaper in toy story.

 

 

I had lain out a tarp to dry ready for den day tomorrow and found some spectacular wildlife underneath when I moved it. It’s amazing what will settle in dark, warm spots in gardens.

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I tried unsuccessfully to capture a photo of the housemartins but only got a seagull.

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In work I started getting things ready for tomorrow’s den day. We have wigwams inside. Then outside we have tarps, parachutes, curtains, pegs, tape, and the portable dividers to use to make our dens. It’s my first stay and play with parents at my new school, so hopefully be fun.

 

 

30 days of wild: Day 11-open gardens

Today started with catching up on the last Springwatch. Alice was a bit more interested today. She seemed to like the owls, but less interested in kestrels.

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Then after her nap we headed out. Today was open gardens in Hornsea. A handful of generous people opened their garden to the public for a donation to raise money for Marie Curie cancer charity. The first we visited was down by the mere was owned by an ex-teacher who now has a workshop making lovely sculptures. Some willow, some metal. Many were on display in her beautiful garden.

I particularly liked that they had made use of the field behind their house. They’d set up a seating area to look out onto a field of wilderness owned by the mere. I also like the pond adding to the biodiversity.

The second was just near one of Amy’s sisters. The back gardens are small courtyards overshadowed in part by their neighbors houses. To get to the house we went round the back alley. The couple who owned the house had moved up from Peterborough two years ago. In that time they’ve clearly put in a lot of work on the garden. Though a relatively small space they had worked wonders making a lovely hideaway. We stopped for tea and scones, which didn’t do any harm to the enjoyment of the garden either. Alice enjoyed digging in their slate path, picking and dropping the stone.

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The next garden was long and narrow with a slope and a little pond at the bottom. He said he’d just been in a year, so doing pretty well so far. I saw a good variety of bees: carder, white tails, miner and what I think were some solitary I didn’t know.

The next garden of over the memorial gardens. It had a decent sized front garden with a long patch of lavender at the front. There was also some interesting black plants, which I’m seeing around more recently.

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The back garden is on several tiers with a pond lower down and larger trees up the slope. The large size of the garden allowed large blocks of planting, which looks more impressive than what I can manage within my garden.

There was even an air raid shelter built by the French posted in Hornsea.

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The next garden had a lot of Buddhist and Chinese influences with statues and bonsai dotted around.

We didn’t notice on entry, but in the corner was a chicken coop.

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The next garden had lots planting for wildlife, bird feeders and insect homes. Alice enjoyed having a good explore. Lots of planting to my taste honeysuckle, lavender, clematis and foxgloves. Lots to attract in insects.

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It was getting late on, but one more garden owner kindly let us have a look around even though it was the end time. It was a massive expanse, with paths winding around the garden. The kids were very lucky with a tree house hidden away.

I spotted a number of speckled wood butterflies hidden up high and plenty of Bee activity all over.

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We didn’t make it around all the gardens as we had a late start after Alice’s nap. But the ones we did get round were spectacular. I’m grateful to the owners for opening up. Not only as it raised money for a good cause, but we also had a lovely afternoon pottering around. I think within my garden I need to look at larger clumps of the same flower for effect rather than all spread around. Then I need a better height progression in my borders. A very enjoyable afternoon and weekend.

30 days wild 2017: Day 10-Back in time

Today started off with some digital acts of wild. I caught up on springwatch and gardener’s world. Alice was not too bothered for Springwatch, but wanted to sit with me for gardener’s world.

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Then did the wild act to share wild news. BBC earth shared the news that bees are not only at risk from pesticides, but also fungicides that were thought safe for bees. The more people aware of this news the better, so please share.

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After Alice’s nap and lunch we headed out for, not one, but two vintage events. First a vintage fair inside at the Floral Hall. Then out to the Hornsea Museum for a vintage tea party.

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Hornsea Museum is in the centre of town. The museum was originally the Burn’s family farm in the 18th century until 1978 when it became a museum of Hornsea life. It has an old school room, relics from the farm, Hornsea pottery and clay industry (clay bricks were once made in the area), model railway and war relics. This may not sound all that exciting, but they put on nice events regularly including craft sessions for children. The courtyard is very pleasant with a nice variety of planting.

Alice wanted to be out using her new walking skills straight away.

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Today was a vintage tea party. Lots of people were dressed up and tea, cake and sandwiches were available. So I ticked off enjoying a cuppa outside with the sound of birds around the courtyard. Sparrows on the roof and blackbirds on the trees.

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They have a miniature beach hut set up currently as an ice cream shop. Alice loved this and spent most of her time going back and forth choosing new ice creams.

The house martins were busy overhead dashing back and forth.

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Interestingly they have local apple trees grown from seed in the courtyard including details about the variety.

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The planting is pretty good for wildlife with cuckoo spit on the fennel and a variety of bees amongst the flowers.

We listened to a few golden oldies from the singers before heading off.

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As Alice had enjoyed the ice cream shop so much we ended up buying her the kitchen toy from the shop. It was a bargain though for a mini wooden kitchen including pans for a tenner. On the way back we stopped in at one of Amy’s sisters. Then went back by the seafront. We were going to have fish and chips but I forgot we’d spent the cash we had on the kitchen set. Alice was getting tired though by the sea, so we went home. Too much longer out before tea and I think she would of got seriously grumpy. A nice day out back immediately time.

I’ll finish with a quick shout out to how good the new 30 days wild school pack is. It has a handful of ideas of activities for teaching linked to key stages. There is a pack of stickers, a wild teacher badge, and a calendar poster with the 30 days on. There is also a large set of the wild acts cards. These are lovely and could easily be marketed to raise more money for the wildlife trust. I’m sure these sets will be very popular.

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Den day

Friday the 16th June is save the children den day. Many children in the world live without shelter. They have been displaced by natural disasters and conflicts. Save the children aims to provide them with the basic necessities of life: food, water and shelter. This year I will of just started at a new school when this comes around, so I’m not sure how much I will do this year. To make up for that I am going to spread the word here of the good work Save the Children are doing.

https://denday.savethechildren.org.uk/

On the 16th June or as close to as can be managed you’re encouraged to raise money and awareness of these issues through building your own shelter, by building a den. This can be done in school or at home. By signing up you receive a pack of ideas to fund raise and also how to educate your class or own children about the challenges faced by children round the world.

For a bit of inspiration I highly recommend den building by Jane Hewitt and Cathy Cross.

Amazon link.

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This little book has a wealth of ideas and pictures of different dens both inside and outside for inspiration. Some are obvious like the cardboard box den to some more creative ideas.

My second recommendation is Home-Carson Ellis. This beautifully illustrated book is a great topic starter for home around the world. It shows a wide variety of different houses around the world ideal for the message of den day.

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It is still quite a way of off den day, but if your setting is anything like mine it takes a while to build materials for any of these theme days. For den building I have a good collection of tarps, old curtains, paracord, pegs and poles to allow the children to build nice simple dens themselves. It’s worth building a supply of cardboard boxes for easy quick builds. I like having the children help attach the para cord between two fences on our playground. Then a tarp under as a ground sheet and one over the top, then pegged at the ages makes a simple large den. The children can do most of the work themselves having done it with me enough times and it fits plenty of children at once avoiding disappointment for the children who can’t fit.

Building dens ticks off many parts of the EYFS curriculum. Just in case you work with staff or senior leadership who don’t see a value to the day I’ve listed some curriculum links. I’ve listed EYFS links, but KS1 and 2 have plenty of links too within PSHE, D&T and geography as well as core subjects.

Personal, social and emotional development

Den building always attracts large numbers of children. Within this are good opportunities for evidencing building relationships. They need to select resources and discuss what is working, so self confidence and awareness comes in. While building dens they have to manage their behaviour and once the den is built I often find they put caps on how many are allowed in at once for safety, which is always good for them to develop their own self control.

Communication and language

Hopefully the children will talk back and forth as they build and take into account others opinions. Often how and why questions will come up allowing them to show deeper understanding of what they are doing. If working in large groups generally plenty of speech will be involved. Then when the den is built further language usually comes out in role play.

Physical development

Den building allows opportunities for both fine motor skills such as tying knots, scissor control or attaching pegs and gross motor skills moving large equipment. Then as the den is built they need to negotiate the space in and out the den. Plenty of exercise can be involved in den building allowing for discussion of health and self care.

Literacy

There are plenty of stories that can be linked to den building to develop reading. Then within planning and designing their den their are writing opportunities for what equipment they need and then creating signs, warnings, maps to the den after.

Mathematics

Plenty of basic counting skills can come into den building such as how many children are allowed in the den, but I find den building a better excuse for finding the comparative language of shape, space and measure coming into a real life example. Sizes, position, shape, distances and weight all come into den building naturally.

Understanding the world

The theme of den day is ideal for making those links to other communities and seeing how other peoples lives differ from their own.

Expressive arts and design

Building a den gives the children a way to express something about themselves on a large scale. They can access different tools, mediums and techniques to decide what sort of a den they want.

So within one special day the children can help other children around the world, but they can also cover a lot of ground in their learning. The day can easily be extended into a topic if the children engage well. The dens can easily be extended to homes and buildings. Then yo have many stories that can be brought in. The most obvious being the three little pigs, but plenty of other choices.

Underneath my den ready for Alice when she’s a bit older. Currently she is becoming interested in crawling under things. Under the table, under the armchair, under blankets, so not long until we can start on some den building.

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A quick and easy den. An umbrella and scarfs. Easy to pack away too.


And to finish a landmark soul song from one of my favourite Motown albums.