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.

Hedgehog Awareness Week

This week is hedgehog awareness week. As such I thought I better check my hedgehog is still happy with the trail cam. I set it up for last night to check it’s still coming in to visit.

I’m glad to report it’s still there. Each time I check the trail cam and see it there on the photos and videos it still gives a thrill that these lovely creatures visit my garden.

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To get the hedgehogs in I did three things to encourage them to visit.

Last year I cut a small hole at the bottom of the back gate to allow the hedgehogs in. Fences can pose a serious obstacle to hedgehogs with many houses changing to impenetrable brick walls. Hedgehogs can cover a lot of ground in a night, but not if they find their path blocked. It does work, as I’ve seen them coming through when taking food waste down to the compost heap.

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A plastic box with a hole cut out made my hedgehog feeding station. The hole was covered round with duck tape to avoid sharp edges. While not the prettiest looking object it allows the hedgehog to feed without next doors cats eating it. The brick is just to weigh it down, so cats can’t get in to eat the food. You can buy neater looking wooden ones with spaces built in for feeding and hibernating.

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Wire hedgehog homes provide a place to hibernate. Mine haven’t been settled in yet, but the hedgehog does come and investigate it.

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Last weeks countryfile episode, in Warwickshire, featured a short section on hedgehog awareness week discussing more of what you can do.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08pnvmg/countryfile-warwickshire

At school I haven’t managed to fit in any hedgehog related activities, so I will be building awareness a week behind.

That’s not my hedgehog-Fiona Watt

These touchy-feely books are loved by Alice. While low on plot, babies and toddlers love the different textured surfaces. While very basic I did use some of this series teaching year one about adjectives.

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The very helpful hedgehog-Rosie Wellesley

This nice little story talks about the many varieties of apples available and teaches about being helpful and friendship.

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For more grown up reading material with less anthropomorphising, Hugh Warick has a nice little book as park of  Reaktion Books animal series.

Hedgehog-Hugh Warwick

It’s been nice looking back over the blogs from the last year of what I’ve done to help hedgehogs. They’ve brought me lots of pleasure. Hedgehogs seem to be one of those animals everyone has a story about with everyone at one point having them in their gardens. What’s your hedgehog memories?

Bank Holiday Stroll

Yesterday saw a family walk down to Hornsea Freeport shopping village. This clocked up a good few miles there and back. 

We took the walk along the old railway line. I was expecting lots of butterflies and bees, but there were few out. There was however lots of hoverflies, interesting in there own right. I’ve written about the mimicry of these cunning little insects before, but still remarkable insects.

We went through the graveyard, where the blossom is still looking good both on the trees and carpeting the path.

A robin was singing away in the trees.

On the way back saw a wren settled on a wire. I can never resist snapping a bird on a wire for the Leonard Cohen reference.

Then back by the seafront. The tide was out a long way. Families were drifting away having come for their Bank Holiday beach visits. It was time for them to head for fish and chips. With Sullivan’s still closed the other chippies are doing well.

It was rather nice having the three day weekend. Normally they fall in the school holiday so I don’t gain. Good to have the extra family time.