Mar 12 2020

Schools and the heath: Making connections with nature

Recently, a couple of wardens and I went along for our regular visit to Holy Trinity School in Sunningdale for their lunchtime nature club, which is open to all children from Reception to Year 4.

Since November, the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership and Mrs Hunt have been providing the children with some great opportunities to spend time connecting with nature in the school grounds and beyond.

Over the weeks, we have carefully searched for invertebrates, made bird feeders, been arty and learned about bird ID and how to use binoculars to help with the Big School’s Birdwatch. One week we even saw a tiny goldcrest! Excitingly, the children’s exploits have just earned the club an RSPB’s Wild Challenge bronze award!

There’s something for everyone at Nature Club

 

A nature club for all weathers…

Sadly, for this particular visit, the weather was pretty dismal, but that didn’t stop us! Armed with a collective love of being outdoors… and a fantastic Forest School shed for shelter, the group spent a fun lunchtime learning about an amazing trio of ground-nesting birds that will now be starting to think about raising families on our local heathlands.

Drizzle and dancing!

Whilst we waited for some of the children to finish their sandwiches, we kicked-off the session with a few games of an all-new activity that is sure to be sweeping birthday parties across the nation… On this drizzly Monday, “ground-nesting bird musical statues” was born!

Admittedly, the name probably needs a bit of work, but the basic premise is the children danced around to the songs of the nightjar, Dartford warbler and the woodlark and, when the singing stopped, everyone did too.

It was great fun and, if you’ve never danced along to the melodic, flutings of a woodlark in full flow, I implore you to give it a go. They will be singing right now on our heaths as they begin to set up territories, so maybe take the chance to go and take a listen.. and then dance like no-one’s watching!

Drizzle and drawing!

With the shed roof keeping the deluge at bay, the children chose one of the birds and did some colouring (opting for either realism or artistic impressionism!) or sketching.

And what a wonderful job they did too…

 

A wonderful woodlark!

A wonderful woodlark!

 

If you are a teacher at a local school and would be interested in your class learning about wildlife and your local heathlands, please get in touch – We can either come to you or arrange a heath-based experience. These free sessions are curriculum-linked and cover a variety of areas through a range of practical activities.
We also offer assemblies.

For further information please contact me  via michael.jones3@naturalengland.org.uk.

Michael
Education & Engagement Officer

 

Oh, and if anyone can think of a better name for “ground-nesting bird musical statues”, do let me know!

 

More fantastic bird art

 

> Further Reading: Schools and the Heath
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