Ideas For Home Learning #5

This month marks the start of the English strawberry season. Buy a punnet in the shops for the family to share and use the fruit to kick start these activity ideas:

strawberry

  1. Computing / Science. Research the fruit online and answer the following questions. What are the yellow bits on the outside of a strawberry? What are they called? What is their function?
  2. English / Design & Technology. Make smoothies together and write a recipe. Discuss the features of a written recipe. Your child can then write their own. To extend this activity, they could design a label or container. This could include a name, slogan, logo, nutritional information, best before date and list of ingredients.
  3. With a magnifying glass, look closely at the structure and pattern of the seeds on the skin of a strawberry. Then use various textured materials, such as bubble wrap, polystyrene or egg boxes, to create ‘zoomed-in’ modern artwork of the repeated patterns that the students find. Or use the fruit to make edible fruit sculptures, using toothpicks to connect the fruit. The work of sculptor Anish Kapoor might provide further inspiration.
  4. Try some mindful eating – an activity idea courtesy of The Edible Schoolyard. Can you enjoy eating more just by focusing your attention? How does the experience of eating change when you eat slowly? Mindful eating is the practice of paying close attention to your food and how you are eating it. If you have kept the fruit in the fridge, let the strawberries warm up to room temperature before eating. Find a quiet place for this activity. Use all your senses. Look closely – what does it look like? What do you notice? Smell the fruit – what words could you use to describe the smell? Touch the fruit – what does it feel like? Finally, taste the fruit – take a small bit and notice the texture. Take another small bite and notice the taste – is it sour or sweet? How would you describe it?
  5. Grow your own strawberries. These plants grow happily in pots, which you can put on a sunny windowsill or balcony. Encourage your child to observe the life cycle of the plant: you will see the white flowers, then the beginnings of the fruit starting to form. The plants of largely self-fertile, which means you are unlikely to see man flying insects pollinating the flowers.
  6. Propagate (reproduce) your own strawberries. This is easily done via ‘runners’ (the new, creeping stems). Peg them down into a small pot filled with compost. Once it is anchored with roots, cut it away from the mother plant.

 

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Ideas For Home Learning #4 – Outdoor Classroom Day

21st May marks Outdoor Classroom Day. This year the organisers have adapted to the current restrictions, but children across Britain are still taking the chance to learn under blue skies …

outdoor-classroom-day

Here’s some activity ideas and their latest update:

Happy Playful Nature day! … the whole Outdoor Classroom Day team is dressing up today to celebrate our connection to the natural world. If you and the children in your care are still deciding what to do, check out our Pinterest board for inspiration. Here are a few of our favourites…

Nature crown
Gather leaves, twigs and feathers to make a nature crown fit for royalty. If you can’t get your hands on natural materials, make some out of paper or card and colour them in. Make the headband out of whatever you have at home, such as a cereal box or an old pair of tights.

Cardboard wings
Cardboard boxes provide so many opportunities for dressing up. Make yourself a set of wings out of whatever boxes you have – depending on the size, you could be a butterfly, dragonfly or bee! Attach them using string, ribbon or elastic, and decorate them to make them shine.

Eco printing
Give old clothes a natural makeover by printing with plants and flowers. Kids will love this activity – and it will help them discover nature at the same time. If you don’t have any old clothes, you can also use this technique on paper and use it to make dress up items like masks.

Whatever you decide to create, share it with the world using #PlayfulNature.

Thank you for your continued support. Together, we will help children to retain their connection to the natural world during the coronavirus crisis – and we’ll work harder than ever once it is over to make sure children have time outdoors every day.

The Outdoor Classroom Day team

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Outdoor Learning and Reopening Schools

Interesting article about Covid and Outdoor Learning:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/10/scotland-eyes-outdoor-learning-as-model-for-reopening-of-schools

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Ideas for Home Learning #3 – The Eden Project

Know about The Eden Project? Ever been? This is a truly inspiring garden and educational charity in Cornwall, about 250 miles west of Rhyl Primary School. The motto for the project is ‘We Are Ordinary People Trying To Change The World‘. You can follow Eden on Twitter and Instagram.

The Eden Project is a series of biomes, the biggest greenhouse on Earth – with each section creating the ideal microclimate for a range of plants from different countries and continents. The collection includes nearly two million plants set over 30 acres of gardens.

the-eden-project-new

  • For an overview of the project – including some drone footage – see the video here. If you want to discover how they built it by transforming an old clay mine, see here.
  • Get to know some of the freaky and fascinating plants from West Australia, such as the Kangaroo Paws. Watch the video here.
  • Learn about plants from South Africa here, including the incredible Proteas which have adapted to survive scorching forest fires.
  • For a mini project for children, challenge them to research and design a fact file about The Eden Project using their website, including amazing statistics and info on their favourite plants.

They publish excellent resources for children, which we are highlighting below. The image at the end of this post is a recent infographic about soil which we would love to have in our Outdoor Classroom at Rhyl!

  1. Outdoor learning with trees
  2. How to make a recycled marble run
  3. How to recycle a milk carton into a bird
  4. Biome in a box activity
  5. Gardening for bees 

what-is-soil-infographic-eden-project

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Ideas for Home Learning #2 – Urban Birdwatching

rhyl-primary-birdwatching

Noticed the birds? The lockdown has created quieter streets and skies. The birds are rejoicing – watch them sing their hearts out as spring unfolds. Here are some tips and educational resources to help you and your children engage with the birdlife in this city.

Even in the heart of London, there’s plenty of birdwatching you can do. Don’t worry – you don’t need ANY prior knowledge or know the names of the different species. The main thing is to grab this unique opportunity to slow down and tune in to the natural world …

  1. Don’t know the name of the bird species? There is an identification guide here and here.
  2. If you use Twitter, check out the hashtag ##BreakfastBirdwatch. Here people are collecting images and recordings of birds that they spot each morning.
  3. For some design and technology, here are instructions for making your own bird feeders. You don’t need many resources!
  4. For some maths activities, keep a tally of the different birds that you see and add to it each day.
  5. If you would like to try and draw a bird, there are some useful tips here.
  6. Here is an interesting blog and website from an urban birdwatcher in London.

Below is an extract from the ‘Feed The Birds’ unit we teach at Rhyl Primary as part of our outdoor learning curriculum. This includes more ideas you can easily adapt …

 Tune into the birds. Find a quiet spot where you can hear or see them. Ask pupils when they last saw a bird and to describe the experience. ‘What do you know / like about birds?’ Close your eyes. ‘What can you hear?’ ‘Why are they singing?’ ‘How do they make the sound?’ Establish that it might be to attract a mate, mark territory or advertise food. Identify species and any defining characteristics, such as song, size, feathers or behaviour.

 Build up a list of local bird species … Look for distinguishing features such as size, beak shape or feather colour. You will also find various webcams for birds on the internet and downloadable bird identification apps for tablets or smartphones. The information collected in your bird watch would then be useful for data handling exercises.

 Use the distinctive character and appearance of different species as a basis for artwork or creative writing. Sketch the birds. Choose a species and generate descriptive language. Use these words or phrases as a basis to write longer poems.

 ‘What do birds like to eat and drink?’ Start a list. ‘Is their diet different to humans?’ ‘Where do they normally find their food?’ ‘Why might it be hard for birds to find food at this time of year?’ Discuss, compare and contrast animal diets and food chains, including the key role of birds in eating insects and dispersing seeds.

 Write some simple recipes for bird food, such as ‘Two handfuls of sunflower seeds, one handful of millet’ etc. Create names for your various recipes.

Key vocabulary
‘Species’, ‘birdsong’, ‘dawn chorus’, ‘diet’, ‘food chains’.

Curriculum links
Science: naming living creatures in local environment; habitats; food chains; seed dispersal; adaptation; animal nutrition.
Design and technology: design and building structures; preparing recipes.
Mathematics: data handling.
Music: compose music with simple repeating structures.

 

 

 

 

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Ideas for Home Learning #1 – Growing Plants from Seed

People are stuck at home right now but there’s still lots you can do with your children. The team at Rhyl are going to publish a series of simple ideas here on our blog. This is just instalment #1. There are more to come – so watch this space!

GROWING PLANTS AT HOME WITH YOUR CHILDREN

seedling

Grow plants from seed and watch them grow. There is lots of useful learning IN exploring the life cycle of plants. Your children can get involved in the whole process: sowing the seeds; watching them germinate; watering the seedlings; measuring them as they grow etc … You may even have something healthy and nutritious to eat at the end of it!

Not got any packets of seeds? Don’t worry! You can use dried coriander seeds (soak them first), dried peas or chickpeas. Just soak first overnight in tepid tap water then sow them! Alternatively, you can collect the seeds from a tomato – here is how to do it (scroll to the bottom of the link).

TOP TIPS

  • This video from the Eden Project in Cornwall is has lots of simple advice.
  • You can germinate seeds in between damp kitchen towel. Add some mathematics to the activity by asking your child(ren) to count the number of seeds and then estimate how many (or what percentage) will germinate.
  • If you do not have pots, you can use anything like yoghurt pots or tins. Puncture some holes in the bottom first so that water can drain out. You can also grow plants in glass jars filled with damp cotton wool – see here.
  • Once the plants are growing, children can measure how much the grow and keep a plant diary. Discuss the function of different parts of the plant, using vocabulary such as ‘roots’, ‘life cycle’, stem’, flower’, ‘seeds’ …
  • If you do have packets of seeds at home, invite your children to read the packet first – there is lots of information on there. Once you have sown some seeds, ask your children to write their own instructions for how to do it. They can also design their own seed packets.
  • For the ultimate challenge (one that will continue until the end of the summer) you could even try the Tomato Sandwich Challenge. I once met a teacher who asked a child if she could pick out come seeds from the tomatoes in her sandwich. The class dried then sowed the seeds. Later, when the plants were tall, they harvested the tomatoes and made a new batch of tomato sandwiches.

USEFUL WEB LINKS

https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/seed-jar-science-experiment-kids/

 

 

 

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Outdoor learning helps children build ‘invaluable life skills’

Article in IE Today – click to read whole item. Extract here:

Outdoor learning helps children build ‘invaluable life skills’

The benefits of pupils learning outside of the classroom are becoming increasingly publicised, but many teachers still shy away for fear of exposing children to too many risks. Here, Alex Alves, forest school leader at Fairfield Prep School, explains why outdoor learning is essential for early learning

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Closure of Community Garden

Our article about the local council’s plan to close a local community garden.

bassett-street-31-10-19

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Launch of UK’s first ‘forest’ primary school

Article in the Evening Standard. evening-standard-4.10.19

 

 

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A lovely idea for tackling air pollution

School children trained to issue parking tickets to parents idling in their cars.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/feb/13/primary-school-pupils-issue-fake-parking-tickets-to-tackle-pollution?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Gmail

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