Using Wildlife to Learn

MDJS Eco-Committee ramble to raise money for Children in Need!


The MDJS Ec0-comittee had their first meeting this week and are excited to announce that they will be taking part in a BBC Countryfile Ramble to raise money for Children in Need!

Find out more about the event by watching the video below.

Our eco-committee will be aiming to get sponsored to walk for an hour and a half around Hartshill Hayes and the surrounding countryside with WildlifeKate and Wren on Monday 10th October! They will be watching out for wildlife as they go and enjoying the fresh air in the lovely green spaces we have around school.

We will be filming and photographing the event, so watch out for more about it in the coming weeks! Not an eco-committee member? You can still organise your own ramble event to raise money for Children in Need! Visit the Countryfile website and the Children in Need website for more ideas!







Photography Club tackle the Last Few Summer Butterflies

We have planted lots of different plants around school to attract insects and the buddleias always attract butterflies. There have not been as many this year as we have had previous years, but this seems to be the case across the country. This last week or so has brought a few to our school grounds and the Photography Club were set the difficult task of trying to photograph some lovely Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells which had appeared.

Butterflies are difficult subjects to photograph as they are easy to scare and they will flutter off it you move too quickly  or get to close. WildlifeKate explained that you have to move very slowly and start taking photos quite far away… move a bit closer, take another one and keep doing that, until you get as close as you can. The great thing about digital photography is that you can just delete those early ones if you get better ones, and you can also just crop in if the butterfly is too small.

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Everyone had a go and we think we got some good shots. We also walked around the school grounds, looking for interesting natural subjects to photograph….

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Once we have all taken a selection of photos, we will be learning how we can edit them.

Green Team get planting!

Our pots outside the front of school were looking a little sad, so one of the Green Teams had the challenge of improving them by planting up some new violas and pansies.

We chose which plant we wanted to use and gently teased out the roots so they were  ready to grow down into the new soil. We made a hole and gently pressed the new plant in. Pressing the soil around it, we made sure it was sturdy and then planted the next one. We also pushed some daffodil bulbs in as well!

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Once we had finished, we gave them a good water! They looked much nicer and we really enjoyed it!


More harvesting… on a rather rainy day!

The constant drizzle did not stop the Year 6 pupils getting stuck in , in the Grow Zone this week to continue with the harvesting and clearing of our Grow Zone.


The groups successfully harvested more tomatoes, which headed straight to our kitchen for school dinners and also more and MORE beans!!! We are going to be making some lovely vegetable broths with these beans and the other veg we have harvested and they have been frozen for the time being to preserve them. We washed and dried them all and were impressed with the crop!


We even managed a few carrots and some beetroot as well!

In the afternoon, the Year 6 pupils continued with the harvest and the clearing! What a really productive day in our Grow Zone!


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Our latest Bushnell clips from the school grounds..

Last week we set the Bushnell trail camera up in the school grounds to see what might be using our wild learning area. There were lots of signs that animals had been around there over the summer holidays.

This week’s footage shows a fox visiting regularly and one visit from a badger!!

Our challenge next is to try to find out where the badger is coming in and what else it does when it is in our Wild Learning Area!! It’s very exciting though!



We start harvesting from the Grow Zone!

Over the summer holidays, our Grow Zone has been doing pretty well. It is a little overgrown, but lots of food is ready to harvest.

Some pupils from Year 4 made a start this morning, by picking some tomatoes, beans and 2 rather large courgettes!


We also started to pull up some weeds and prepare the ground for some winter crops that year 6 are going to plant as part of their Yr 6 World War II project.

The tomatoes looked so good that we all chose one, washed it and ate it… they were delicious!!


We also put our lovely fresh tomatoes onto our school salad bar for lunchtime… it’s always great to eat the fruit we have grown ourselves!



Welcome back to a new school year!

Where has the summer gone? The holidays always seem to pass so quickly and we are back to school, ready to start a new term before we know it! Wren was looking forward to her first day back and she is a good indication of how much time has passed. When everyone last saw Wren she was pretty small…..Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 14.04.19

Six weeks of summer holidays and Wren has now doubled in size….

IMG_8441Wren is our school dog and will be around whenever WildlifeKate is in school. Just like us, she is trying her hardest to learn how to behave properly in school. She will be visiting classes and assemblies in the next few months.

Wren is not the only things that has grown a lot! Our Grow Zone is a bit of a jungle and there is a lot of food to be harvested. As part of Year 6’s topic on World War II, they will be ‘Digging for Victory’ next week and trying up and harvesting the area. We will then be doing some cooking with our produce.

WildlifeKate spent some time in the Wild Learning area tidying up as well. We have a lovely willow dome that is a super place to sit, chill and relax. The dome is living, which means the willow keeps growing. Several times a year, it has to be trimmed and re-woven so that all the new growth is woven back in, so it gradually gets thicker and more covered…

Here is the ‘before’ picture…


… and after it has been woven in….


We also discovered some exciting…….’stuff’… well ‘poo’ to be precise…. but this is ‘special’ poo… in a little hole. It is known as a ‘latrine’ and it is where a badger has been visiting! Badgers like to dig a hole, then every night, they come and poo in the same place in the hole. This latrine tells us that our badger is visiting regularly which is fantastic news!


We set the Bushnell trail cam to ‘watch’ the area over the next week so we can see how often our badger is coming! The fox is also around too… may be we will film him on the trail cam as well.

We also have some bee hotels in our Wild Learning Area. These holes seem to be full of leaves…. they have been visited by leaf cutter bees! They have lined the tube with leaves and made little chambers where they have laid eggs and filled it with nectar and pollen. The new leaf cutter bees will develop in there and pupate, staying there until next Spring.


Lot of life still around, even though Autumn is just around the corner….. let’s hope the sun lasts a little longer, if only to make out tiny new apples grow bigger! These are the first apples we have had so far in our orchard!






Yr 6 try out their ‘Find it’ Game with Yr 3

Last week, some year 6 pupils spent a morning in the Hayes, collecting and looking for items to make a ‘Find it’ type game for younger pupils. One group, in particular, worked really hard and created a fantastic set of cards, all laminated and bound. They chose a great set of different things to find, from leaves and berries to works and beetles.

As a reward for their hard work, they trialled their challenge with the Year 3 Green Team.

Heading to the Hayes, the Yr 6 girls spread their cards out on a tree trunk. They explained to the Green team that they would have to try and find the things on the cards. When they had found it, they would return to the tree trunk, show their item and, in return, get the card. The aim was to get as many cards as they could!

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The pupils spent an hour in the words, searching high and low for all the different items and found most of them. The Green team also came up with some ideas as to different items that could be added to the game.

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We all had a fantastic time and the challenge worked really well.


Yr 3 Journey Strings… with Wren!

Wren’s first trip out today was with the Year 3 pupils, who demonstrated how to behave when outside of the school grounds! We headed to the Hayes, where the children were set the challenge of creating a ‘Journey String’. Each child had a long length of string and they had to chose items to go on the string… items that interested them. They would have to be able to explain why they chose it.

An hour walk around the Hayes meant we collected lots of lovely things, including beautiful leaves, seeds, flowers, cones, feathers, twigs and stones.  thumb_IMG_8382_1024thumb_IMG_8383_1024thumb_IMG_8384_1024thumb_IMG_8385_1024thumb_IMG_8386_1024thumb_IMG_8387_1024thumb_IMG_8389_1024thumb_IMG_8390_1024thumb_IMG_8394_1024thumb_IMG_8395_1024thumb_IMG_8396_1024thumb_IMG_8397_1024thumb_IMG_8398_1024thumb_IMG_8393_1024

Wren took it all in her stride and behaved very well…… when we got back, she decided she needed to sleep all afternoon…… that walk had worn her out!


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