Outdoor classroom-music area and hedgehogs

One of my TAs husbands generously spent part of his weekend making a new music area for our F2 playground. With pallets from his work, a selection of kitchen pans and a dismatled xylophone we have a new music area. This adds to the provision we don’t need to bring in and out each day making our job easier. The day has been wet, but still a good number of kids investigating. I’m grateful to have a team of staff keen to move things on and keep improving provision.

I’ve also been working out what wildlife we see in our setting. I left the trail camera for the weekend to discover a hedgehog crossing the playground. I expected urban foxes, not hedgehogs. The children were delighted to see the video.

https://youtu.be/7KllJux-d8s

At the weekend added another bee to the list I can identify. Last year taking part in the Great British bee hunt I came to know white tailed bumblebees and honey bees well as they were the few visitors to my old garden. New garden though has seen common carder bee. Its strange how joy can be gained from simply identifying a bee, but it does make me happy learning more about these wonderful creatures.

All human knowledge is precious whether it serves the slightest human use.
A.E. Houseman


Den day green lighted

Den day has been given the go ahead at my new school. Den day is organised by Save The Children to raise awareness of children living without shelter. Many children across the world live without a stable home. As bad as the situation in the UK can be we are largely looked after so it is important to teach the children about their role in helping worldwide.

I’m going to be looking through this a lot over the next month.

We will be inviting parents in to help us in the building if dens. I’m delighted that our first stay and play session will be a largely outdoor affair and supporting a worthy cause.

If you feel moved to give a donation we a virgin money donation page. Any donation of any size will be appreciated.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/dendaythorpepark

So now onto building den supplies. We have lots of tarps, curtains and fabric. We’re going to need to save boxes. We have lots of milk crates. Hopefully we’ll have a great day of teaching the children about global issues and have some fum den building. If you have any den building ideas please comment. 

Our space to work in.

Ladybirds and caterpillars

This week we took possession of two sets of 5 caterpillars at school from insect lore. Then split between mine and the end classroom all the 80 children get a chance to see them.

I have in the past seen criticism of using caterpillars and other insects in the classroom. It can be seen as making life something marketable and disposable. Thr RSPCA advice’s using soft toys and plastic animals. But I don’t see that this teaches children respect for life properly. The children develop a sense of wonder seeing the caterpillars change and they are very careful around them. They understand they are not just a toy. Building this respect for all life forms stops them going out on the playground and squashing spiders and snails shells.

What the children get out of this depends on the value you place on it. If you take all the teaching opportunities they provide they are an amazing opportunity.


Outside I have added more photo IDs around the bug hotel. I’ve seen small groups going to investigate through the day. A lot of the girls have enjoyed bee hunting. 

One of the girls spotted a ladybird causing much excitement.

Planters

A bit more progress was made with my F2 (reception year) outdoor area. We have several unused planters scattered around. The one we’ve worked on today has largely been used for an assault course with them enjoying climbing over this one. While I appreciate the benefit of climbing we have a wealth of areas they can climb and few areas with flowering plants.
With the children’s help this has been dug over. They’ve enjoyed breaking up the hard earth with the forks. Then we added a layer of new compost and then a few plug plants. The forget me nots have a good flowering period and hopefully will reseed naturally. Then we’ve erected canes to discourage the climbing over.

The planter could do with a lick of paint to tidy it up. But its a nice little step towards encouraging insect life and improving the feel of outside. I’ve talked more, with the kids, about what the plants need to thrive. They will be involved in the maintance which will help build their knowledge of biology. Just a quick job, but it improves the feel of the area, that it’s cared for.

Teaching weight outside

This week we have had a focus on weight in maths. Shape, space and measure evidence needs filling out. Within the classrooms we’ve had a post office set up with parcels for weighing, but outside we’ve worked on a bigger scale. 

I’ve set up 2 lengths of paracord between trees and a pulley system between with buckets to compare weight. This was popular today and got some great vocabulary out of the children. Children who would never of played with the balance scales inside got involved. I’ve seen the children enjoying playing and given me the evidence I need that they understand weight. 

I’ve got my eyes on the allotment space next. Currently it is three square planters of weeds. The team started a bit of clearing, but more to go to change it from a wasteland to an area the kids can be proud of.

Garden birds

Over the last few weeks the variety of birds in the garden had dropped off. The seagulls, pigeons and crows seemed to be scaring everything off. But the last few days it’s been getting busy again.

The pigeons and crows are still in regularly.

The collared doves have been checking in.

The starlings have been visiting on their rounds.

The blue tits and great tits are back, although only photographed the great tit.

A jackdaw visiting the feeder. The hood nice and clear seperating it from its crow cousin.

Alongside these I’ve seen song thrushes, robins, wrens and the usual blackbird. The only regular yet to return are the chaffinches. Hopefully see them again soon.

I also came across my copy of Matt Sewell’s-spotting and jotting guide. This delightful little book has Matt’s paintings of each bird and little witty descriptions. A handy little guide for watching your garden. Useful for keeping on a windowsill or Summer house.

Planning for undestanding the world

Within my reception class (F2) we have a deficit of evidence for the curriculum area “the world”. The key objectives are: 

Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

So this includes some of my, and usually the children’s, interests. Children love looking at animals and mini-beasts so over the next few weeks I will be planning for this.

Outside I made a start with children this week replanting a row of seedling trees. They had been planted and then pulled out by the children. In order to try to develop the children’s understanding I’ve worked digging deeper holes and packing with fresh compost. The kids worked with me digging the holes, then watering them in. Hopefully by including them in the maintenance they will learn respect for the trees and not just pull them straight out.

We put up new bird feeders to attract some more bird life in.

I’ve added the friends of the earth bee poster from their Great British Bee hunt pack up near the bug hotel. I’ve got few more posters to laminate and put up. It will hopefully get the children talking and looking. Not the biggest change, but may draw them in.

Inside we have a tuff tray of mimi-beasts and woodland animals. There are laminated numbers and tricky words in the hope some children may name them giving us the observations for reading and maths. 

Carrying on from hedgehog awareness week we have paper plate hedgehogs to make

The sand tray is set for the sea with underwater creatures and coloured rice. Lovely sensory objects with the shells and rice.

The light table is set up with the light bricks for investigating colour change.

Within F1 (nursery) more of the chicks have hatched.

So lots of fun to be had next week. Ive got plans for filling the planters to attract in more insect life and a few flowers is good for both the mental health of staff and children. So watch this space for further developments.