Wild and natural areas provide children with first hand experience of the subject matter, whether it be a wriggling tadpole, a fluttering insect or observing feeding birds. These spaces can be specific wildlife areas, or allotments and gardens themed on sustainability and the environment. As well as being places for teaching science, they also make good spaces to encourage creative writing and maths.
Our experience has lead us to focus on making spaces that can cater for full classes, not just small groups. That way the curriculum can be delivered in these spaces. We've found that putting several 'zones' in a wildlife area means classes can be split up and given an activity in each zone. Groups can then be rotated round the zones to provide a full lesson.
These make excellent features in a wildlife area, adding to a sense of excitement and adventure as children go inside. Pupils can also be involved in creative activites in designing the hide, what it looks like and what its made from. Our hides are made from sustainably sourced timbers, reclaimed materials and recycled plastic. Birdwatching can provide a great many educational outcomes. observing varieties and numbers can provide great data handling activities, as well as weighing and measuring feeds put out on tables. Children can develop a sense of environmental ownership through providing for birds, particularly in winter months.
A pond is a way to view another world, and witness the life cycles of creatures- whether it be from eggs, to larval stages to fully grown insect, or frogspawn to tadpole to frog. Ponds are a great way to see life develop first hand. Like bird hides, pond dipping activities can be used for data handling, and the variety of bizarre minibeast found can be a stimulus for creative writing. One school designed a letter box in a nearby bird hide so they could write letters to frogs! Our ponds are made to the highest standard, constructed from british manufactured butyl rubber, lined with a puncture resistant under and overlay.
Plants and bugs.
Putting the right plants in will help the bugs come. When the bugs come the birds will too. Our wildlife areas are planted with native British plants, from young trees to native hedgerows through to grasses and wildflower meadows. Not only do these help establish the ecosystem, minibeast hunts make an excellent activity, either by using sweep nets or creating bug houses and habitat structures. Much of the work in establishing the planting can be done in hands on sessions with pupils. Examples here have been done in partnership with horticultural spacialist Jim Staveley from Greener Places Ltd.