By Cathy Metcalf from St Mary's R C Primary
In June I visited the Newport Wetlands with my Year 5 class. We were mid way through our Summer theme of ‘Wet and Wild’, a geography focus theme based around the River Usk which flows through our city centre. Our trip to the Wetlands provides us with such a fantastically rich, authentic learning experience, and we tailor much of our curriculum around the visit.
Science through the Newport Wetlands
Part of our science curriculum in Year 5 is to teach habitats and food chains. The team at the wetlands always bring this theme to life during our visit, introducing the appropriate scientific language and encouraging the pupils to compete against each other to create food chains which include animals they have seen during their visit. The children also participate in a ‘bug hunt’, locating different kinds of insects and invertebrates and identifying them using branching databases. The children also collaborated to create their own micro habitat to look after the creatures they caught, understanding more about the factors that all living things need for survival. Following our visit, the pupils created their own branching databases for identifying wildlife in our local community. Some pupils created these by hand, whilst others using the online platform of Hwb (J2E) to present their work.
Digital Competency through the Newport Wetlands
During our visit the pupils also spent half an hour pond-dipping. This is always a very popular activity with the children, but it also provides us with a fantastic opportunity to teach one of the more challenging strands of the Digital Competency Framework. Year 5 pupils need to add and amend records to a database, and interrogate a database to find information, so we ask each group of learners to record the creatures they collect during their dip. We then use software through Windows (Microsoft Access) and Hwb (J2E Data) to teach pupils the concepts of ‘information fields’ and different question types (multiple choice/ quantital/ yes-no) that allow them to create a database which shows what the whole class caught. The pupils are then able to search within their database to locate all of the creatures within a particular field (for example, all those that fly/swim, all those with 6 legs).
Databases ICT WALT: To add and amend records in databases
(Use starter activity on website, and then Main activity Alaw) Can the children suggest from this the types of questions they would need to use to create a database of wildlife spotted at the Wetlands
Children to input data from the trip to the Wetlands into a database using Hwb Data platform.
Expressive Arts through the Newport Wetlands
Following our visit to the Wetlands, the pupils spent several art sessions with our specialist teacher creating water colour paintings of the creatures they had seen. First the pupils painted toads and newts, studying the shape, line and detail using photographs we had taken at the Wetlands. In the following session the children marbled the background paper, and then collaged their watercolour paintings on top. The children then expressed an interest in painting the moths they had seen, and used buddleia flowers and leaves for printing the backgrounds for these pieces. The art work was of such a higher quality because it was drawn from an authentic learning experience for the children. The art work was shared on our school twitter feed, and displayed in the classroom before being taken home at the end of term.
Health and Well Being and Eco-Awareness through the Newport Wetlands.
The Wetlands visit also offers opportunities that school does not always provide for risk-taking and over-coming challenges. Not for the first time, several of the girls in my class were incredibly apprehensive about holding an insect and it was so brilliant to see them face their fears head on, supported by their friends and peers and feel a sense of self-pride when they were able to hold a spider, woodlouse or even newt! The children were also so much more aware of the importance of the wildlife in our local community having understood that ‘not all towns have a wetlands!’ All of these additional learning purposes contribute to their holistic education, and help to educate them, not just academically, but to be the sort of well informed, global citizens that we want them to grow into.
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