Speckles of colour dot the meadow in the Discovery Zone as flowers burst through long wispy grass. June drifts lazily into July. As the sun’s warmth heats up the ground, the paths become awash with damselflies and butterflies, some clinging to grass, others bravely investigating into the undergrowth. It seems a great time to investigate not only what flies and crawls through our meadow, but what lies beneath the surface of our ponds.
On the day the country holds it breathe counting down the hours until kick-off, our school arrives in reds and whites, excited about this evening as well as the day. It is wonderful to find out how much the students know already and what they are eager to discover. After introducing the concepts of mini-beast investigating, habitats and plants, we are straight out to begin the day, today starting with investigating our plants.
One aspect I really love about the learning team here, is bringing to life concepts that the students will learn in the classroom. After creating a human plant, complete with sound effects for roots, stem, leaves and flowers, the children investigate the different leaves they can see in the grassland. It is amazing to see how many different types they find, many of them filling their sticky boards with different colours and shapes, proudly holding them to take home as bookmarks, a memento from the trip.
Reeds, now towering high above the water, whisper in the breeze and shimmer with tiny chirps from baby coots and moorhens. Our pond dipping session is briefly paused as we watch a Little Grebe and its chick emerge from these reeds and paddle cautiously on the other side of the water. Today, our budding nature watchers discover a huge array of pond creatures! Water boatman row around the trays while damselfly nymphs, the mermaids of murky depths, wiggle and swim through the water. Some trays are lucky enough to find huge pond snails with their unicorn shells and there are shrieks of joy as sticks crawl into watery life- the caddisfly larva will never cease to amaze and delight me and the visitors!
Flowers wave gently in the breeze in our mini-meadow; sky blue Knapweed and the smiling faces of Ox-eye daisies, all sheltered by a haze of green as grasses grow tall in the sunshine, over the heads of many of our students. On closer inspection, let’s say at “butterfly view”, we find orchids, common vetch, trefoil and a host of mini-beasts. Sweep netting on the grassland is fast becoming one of my favourite activities here. We find beetles and caterpillars, ladybirds, spiders and many fabulous butterflies. Waving the students off after another fantastic day, I return to the pond for tidying up. All is now serene and calm. The rustling sound of the reeds is only broken by the occasional whirlwind of diving terns overhead and the nibbling of hungry water vole, enjoying an afternoon snack of reeds and water mint. Perfect.
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