Outdoor LEarning

Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 12/2/16

These two wood pigeons were spotted in the middle playground during one of our bird watching sessions for the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch. Over 100 children from across the school took part during several sessions that surveyed our different playgrounds. We now have a record of the birds visiting the grounds since 2011. Some birds, like the wood pigeons are regular visitors but others are only spotted occasionally such as the blackcap and fieldfare.  Keep a look out for the big birds with forked tails, soaring high above the school. These are red kites and were saved from national extinction by one of the world's longest running protection programmes. 

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 29/1/16

These ice crystals formed along the top of the wooden raised beds in the school garden when the temperature dropped below freezing recently. The soil was frozen solid and the plants were covered in frost. It was interesting to watch the frost thaw as the warm sun streaked through the gaps in the buildings at the back of the school and onto the grass. Most of the plants and crops we grow are hardy enough to survive such a cold temperature and soon perk up when it becomes warmer, but we did put a fleecy covering over our young fig tree to offer some extra protection. Some of the ice crystals in the picture clearly show their hexagonal structure.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 15/1/16

The school grounds are looking very wintery at the moment with bare trees, soggy grass and dried seed heads. Most playtimes are spent running around to keep warm, but if you stop and look around you may discover signs of new life emerging. This tiny seed was spotted one lunchtime nestled into the edge of the playground. We searched for evidence of other similar seeds so that we could accurately identify it. We were able to match it with some of the winged seeds from the Norway maple trees. The seeds were starting to germinate in the mild weather at the start of the year. The green leaf shoot and paler root can clearly be seen. 

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 11/12/15

This holly is growing in the Jubilee Hedge at the back of the school. The hedge was planted by children from each class in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The hedge plants were donated by the Woodland Trust and are a wildlife friendly mix which also contains dogwood, hawthorn, hazel and wild rose. The fallen leaves protect the base of the plants during the cold weeks of winter and we will soon see the first green shoots of spring-flowering bulbs poking through.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 27/11/15

Labels have been hung from many of the trees in the grounds in preparation for National Tree Week. This annual celebration heralds the start of the winter tree planting season. The labels will stay for more than a week to give everyone a chance to spot the different varieties. Now that most of the leaves are down we can study the tree shapes, especially when they are silhouetted against the wintry sky.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 13/11/15

We planted up this raised bed just before the half term holiday and the seeds have already emerged. The bed is divided into three  
sections by two rows of young 'poached egg' plants. Two sections contain green manure 'grazing rye' in horizontal and vertical rows. It's interesting to see how the recent gales have flattened one section more than the other. There are broad beans and peas in the third section along with some physalis plants which have sprouted from fruits dropped in the bed last year. The peas and beans may not survive the winter but we always take a chance with an early sowing. Our green beds, planters and multi-coloured picnic benches are made from recycled plastic bottles.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 23/10/15

We provided this fantastic crop of vegetables for the Harvest Assembly. The main raised bed by the entrance has now been cleared and a big dollop of lovely leaf mould has been spread on top to add extra body to the soil. We have popped in a few broad bean and pea seeds and sowed some Hungarian grazing rye. If the beans and peas survive the cold weather we will have an earlier crop next year. The rye grass is a green manure crop and will be dug into the soil in spring.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 9/10/15

Collecting leaves is a great way to keep warm as the days become cooler. The first trees to drop their leaves in the grounds tend to be the Norway Maples at the back of the school. The leaves are dry and crunchy at the moment so we had fun arranging them in the photograph. They were then swept up and deposited in a corner where we keep most of the leaves that fall in the grounds. Not only does this save on what we send out with the rubbish but once the leaves  rot down we have the valuable soil conditioner - leafmould.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/ 2 weeks ending 25/9/15

We took a break from weeding and tidying up in the grounds to enjoy some time in the early autumn sun. The sunflowers in the picture were amongst the seeds that the Garden Club sowed last term. The variety is called 'Teddy Bear'. We spent some time talking about the fuzzy, pom-pom flowers and looking at all the parts of the plant before making the drawings. The plants and drawings are now at the main entrance of the school for everyone to enjoy.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/week ending 11/9/15

There are quite a few fruit trees in the school grounds - pear, fig and three types of apples. The Worcester Pearmain apples started to ripen during August and there has been a good crop this year. We hope to buy a grape vine with some of the vouchers we recently won in the Oxford in Bloom competition.

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Outdoor Learning/School Grounds/week ending 4/9/15

The nuts on the hazel tree ripened during the summer and most are now off the tree. The jagged holes in the nutshells have been made by squirrels. They use their sharp teeth to gnaw into the hard shell to get at the soft kernel inside. You may see them scampering around the grounds taking the remaining nuts and storing them away for their winter hoard.

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