Cultivating the senses of touch, and smell, but also awareness and trust, the children from Dvůr Králové nad Labem worked together in pairs in a nearby park. Each of them looked for their own tree. One of them was then blindfolded with a scarf and became a kind of explorer. The other was his guide, leading him safely to his tree. The blindfolded child felt or smelled the tree. Then the pair carefully returned to their starting point. There the explorer removed his scarf and tried to find the tree. The children then took turns in the search.
At our school, we started a new tradition - ninth-graders to first-graders. Our ninth-graders said goodbye to their years spent at elementary school and, in addition to the scribbled-on school desks,, they also left a nice mark on the school grounds - they planted a tree or a bush for each of the first-year classes. The ninth graders introduced their younger classmates to the trees, and taught them how to take care for them for the years to come. First-grade students know that the trees need to be watered regularly, and they look forward to growing together with them. With this nice activity, the students brought joy and positive energy to the PLACE - the schoolyard.
At Winterslow Primary School we have ‘Forest Fridays’ where the children learn in the local area. This takes place all year round so children understand the effect of the seasons on the environment. The activities include litter picking, mapping, building, whittling, art and collage as well as practical skills.
We have created a quest for children to find out about sustainability in our school. The children used i-pads to find and scan QR codes. The codes were linked to information about our school environment. Our next step is to extend the quest to the local community of Winterslow.
Oughterside Primary School in Cumbria UK have created a Quest around their village.
First they explored the history of the landscape and found much of it is reclaimed land from old coal mines. Many of the houses were built originally for coal miners to live in and they talked to older people in the village who could remember what it used to be like.They explored the flowers that grow on the verges and fields and drew a flower guide as part of the Quest. They made maps and wrote all the clues. As a guide they asked Rabbit to help as there are many rabbits who enjoy the flowers in the fields.
They left the Quest out all summer for local people and visitors to explore.
Comment from the school: ‘We’ve had great fun making it and tons of learning!’ Thank you Jachym for showing us how to make a Quest!
by SARA DAWSON & EMMA HAMBLET, teachers Wigton Nursery and Infant School, Wigton, Cumbria, UK
The children at Wigton Nursery and Infant School have been working on a project to develop a garden for all of the community to use. First they explored the local area and discussed where they would like to develop, then children volunteered after school to work alongside staff to improve the garden area. The garden is outside the school grounds but can be accessed easily by the pupils. It is still a work in progress.
Here the children are proud to show how they have worked together to widen the path as they decided that they wanted everyone to be able to access the garden safely. It is now wide enough for wheelchair access. The garden is a small section of Phoenix Park which has had lots of exciting developments recently, including a pond and wildflower, bee garden. All sections of the local community have worked in different areas of the park, such as a working group from the local factory, a local youth group alongside support from the local council.
We have an old orchard in our grandfather's garden. We have apple, plum, walnut and pear trees there. We like their fruits very much. Since 21st of October was the Day of old apple varieties, we went to our garden and picked apples from several kinds of apple trees under the trees. In class we then explored them with all our senses. We learned different information about them. We wrote a letter to the aple, imitated the growth of a seed to a mature fruiting tree. We tasted fresh and baked apple fruits. We liked the fresh ones better. We then made apple pictures in the garden, played games, sang and finally imitated a worm in an apple. This day was a real success. Will you try to do something similar in your garden?
by Ludmila Kozlová, ZŠ a Montessori MŠ Prachatice, Národní 1018
At our Montessori School in Prachatice (Czech Republic) we had a clothes swap. We made posters first. They should motivate children to bring clothes they don´t need but are still nice, and to save them buying new instead. One day before the swap, children could bring anything they don't wear. At day "D" we arranged the brought clothes in the corridor. Children came during the break. We prepared some refreshments, posters about fast fashion and how to avoid it, one girl played the piano and everybody tried to see if the clothes fitted. It was very successful, almost everything was "swapped" and we are excited to do it again.
We identified a range of nature-rich, public access sites near our school, and took groups of Year 1 and Year 2 children to visit them. The visits were weekly, took all day, and involved the same children and staff. Some focussed activities took place but the emphasis was on exploration and play while they learned about the natural features and inhabitants of the places. We visited woods, beaches, raised bogs and bird reserves. A wide range of evaluation work was done and the outcomes were unanimously positive about the impact on the children’s social skills and emotional wellbeing.
We have been encouraging children, and teachers, to look at their place in a new way through Nature Journaling. By slowing down and paying careful attention to the nature that surrounds us we build connection, and feelings of belonging and care. We start by encouraging the learners to find something in nature that interests them and then spend time observing and drawing it. We then use ‘I notice…’ ‘I wonder….’ and ‘it reminds me of….’ as sentence starters to encourage thought and curiosity.