Using Wildlife to Learn

Outdoor Explorers Club in our Base Camp

The Outdoor Explorers we working hard on our Base Camp in the Hayes this week, as they foraged in the woods for lots of big sticks. We only collected dead twigs and branches and we had to drag them into the base camp to make our dead fences. These fences are constructed entirely out of natural materials and we weave and stack them to create barriers that help create the camp.

Sometimes we had to work as a team when we found some that were too big for us to carry on our own… we loved being out in the woods and working on this project!

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Our MDJS BBC Countryfile Children in Need Ramble 2017

We are always keen to raise money for children who are less fortunate than ourselves and when it involves spending the whole afternoon outside, then all the better!! We were keen to take part in the BBC Countryfile Ramble in aid of Children in Need 2017. The School Council and the Eco-committee decided they would like to raise money by getting sponsored to take part in a ramble in Hartshill Hayes.

The weather forecast was looking great as we assembled with some parents and grandparents who had kindly offered to join us! We all had our MDJS flags and badges and lots of us had bought teddies who wanted to join us too!

Even Wren was wearing her badge and she was very keen to take part!

We all walked down to the entrance to the Hayes where we had our first group photo…

We had all afternoon to ramble and enjoy the beautiful weather and the stunning Autumn colours! It was beautiful in the Hayes and great to be out in the fresh air! We all agreed that we were really lucky to be outside on this wonderful afternoon.

We headed down the main path , into the woods..

As we reached the hill at the top of the Hayes, we had a superb view all across Warwickshire… we were all having a fantastic time!

We had a little breather and then carried on, down a sleep hill to a stream where we all had a paddle, then it was into a huge field that we walked all around!

The tough bit back up the big hill meant we were all quite out of breath by the time we reacher the top…. well everyone a part from Wren who is the fittest out of all of us!

Time was going SO quickly! It was nearly 3 o’clock and time to head back towards school, after all of our teddies had posed in the tree!

We just made it back to school in time for hometime!

A big Thank You to all the adults who came to help us and we will let you know how much money we raised , in the next few weeks when it all has been collected in.

You can see all of our photos on our Flickr Album


Start of a new Year at MDJS Wild Learning!

It’s been a while since we have had a MDJS Wild Learning Blog update. It takes a while to get all of our photo permissions in from our new Year 3 pupils and for all of our new groups to get up and running.

Our Grow Zone is gradually looking better as the pupils start to clear the old beds of over grown plants. We have had a great crop of runner beans (we hope families enjoyed helping themselves!), courgettes, marrows , cherry tomatoes and potatoes. We are now digging over all the beds gradually, to prepare them for the winter and get them ready for planting next spring again.

We even donated some of our crop to a local food bank! Thank you to Mrs Lever who came in to help us collect some potatoes, beans and rhubarb and to take them to the food bank.


Our Grow Zone gave us the perfect opportunity to cary out a bit of maths! We measured , sorted and weighed some of the items we had picked.

The new Green Teams have been busy as well; not only in the Grow Zone, but out in The Hayes as well. Some of the new pupils have had the chance to explore the areas we use for our work and had a chance to see our Base Camp. The Outdoor Explorers Club have also headed down to the Hayes, collecting stocks to build this year’s hedgehog houses!

The Photography Club are making the most of the last of the Autumnal sunshine and trying to capture the beauty of Autumn. We will be publishing our images we have taken over the next few weeks!

We have also been tidying up our bug hotel, with the help of the Green Teams!

… as well as sorting and tidying our Poly tunnel ready for next year’s planting!

As you can see, we have been pretty busy!

Finally, a big thank you to Mr Chadwick and his son, who put our our new wellie and coat store! If you have any wellies our outdoor coats or waterproofs that you could donate to the school to be used in our outdoor learning sessions, please place them in this shed. We are getting a great selection and it makes all the difference to be able to loan children appropriate outdoor gear, if they do not have any!

Natural Clay Creatures

The Year 6 pupils who had not gone on the residential trip spent a lovely afternoon with WildlifeKate, undertaking some wild art. We collected lots of different materials that we thought would be good to create some natural art sculptures and artwork. We walked around the Hayes, finding different leaves, moss, sticks and seeds that would all be useful.

Taking some clay, we used our materials to start to design and make some interesting bugs. The pine needles were brilliant of rate spines of tiny hedgehogs, glossy green leaves were great for wing cases and long thin twigs made perfect antennae…

Some pupils also used their materials to make some lovely 2D art work…


Very well done to everyone… some superb pieces of art work and what a lovely afternoon!

We get the ‘Food For Life’ Bronze Award!

We have been working hard at school towards our Bronze Award in the ‘Food for Life’ scheme. This scheme is about ‘making good food the easy choice for everyone – making healthy, tasty and sustainable meals the norm for all to enjoy, reconnecting people with where their food comes from, teaching them how it’s grown and cooked, and championing the importance of well-sourced ingredients.

The work in our Grow Zone, along with all the fantastic cooking we do in school with Mrs Cochrane, along with out healthy school dinners, all contributed to us achieving this award, of which we are very proud.

WildlifeKate and Mrs Cochrane took some hard working year 6 pupils to the Award Ceremony which was held at Ryton Organic Gardens. We had to go up to collect our certificate…


After being awarded our Award, we had the chance to have lunch in the lovely gardens and to look around.


We also had the chance to take part in a range of activities. We ran one activity making dragonflies and little clay bees full of seeds. We also planted some seeds of our own.


We had a super day and really enjoyed the experience. We were proud to bring our award back to school to be hung in the entrance hall. We will now be working toward our Silver Award.


Eco-Crew visit Southfields Farm, Coleshill

As part of outwork in school learning about healthy eating and growing food, the eco-committee visited Southfields Farm in Coleshill. The day was part of our bid for the Bronze Award of the Food for Life Award that would celebrate all that we do at Michael Drayton to encourage a positive attitude and a healthy outlook on food and its growing and production.

We started the day looking at some of the crops that are grown on the farm….wheat, oats, oil seed rape and we then had the chance to grind some of our own wheat to make flour…


Before long, we were all on a trailer , pulled by the tractor and we were off for a ride to look at the fields and some of the crops!


We visited the farm pond and did a spot of pond dipping and we also searched for bugs under the logs and rocks.We were then shown the farmer’s crop of wheat and we learnt about how it is cared for and how much is needed to make a loaf of bread! It is a lot of work growing these crops!


We learnt all about how a farm can be managed both for profit and for wildlife. Strips of wild flowers can be planted alongside crops to encourage pollinators. At this farm, whole fields are put aside for a wild flower meadow. It was beautiful and the whole area was full of insects. We collected a selection of wild flowers and also swept the area with nets to see what insects we could find.IMG_2178IMG_2181IMG_2183IMG_2187IMG_2188

We visited the oil seed rape crop and learnt about how the tiny seeds are turned into an oil that we use in our cooking. We also saw maize crops and we learnt about how this is used to make animal feed for the winter.


It is not only crops that are grown here. Sheep are bred for meat production. We went into the field to meet the sheep, some of which were really friendly! They are all well looked after and the farmer knows a lot of them by name as they are ewes he has had for many years!


Other animals are kept for what they produce…. eggs! There are lots of hens and we loved getting close to them, feeding and holding them.


There were some other animals that are just kept for fun, including some goats, alpacas, donkeys and some lambs that had been hand reared after their mothers rejected them. We spent a lot of time with these animals and we loved it!


We learnt so much about how a farm runs, how animals can be reared with compassion and care, for meat and how wildlife can be incorporated successfully into a farm environment.

We had a fantastic day and would like to thank everyone at the farm for all their help in making this such a fantastic day!

Growing in the Grow Zone!

After a week of Half term, with the Holiday Club watering everything in the poly tunnel, we had lots of plants ready to plant into the Grow Zone!

We had peas, runner beans, French beans, courgettes, pumpkins and broad beans all ready to plant outside. The weather was not ideal… pretty windy and wet, but we battled on and we planted as much as we could. This wet weather will help all the plants settle into our beds and grow well.

The downside is that we have lots of weeds…. as fast as we clear the weeds, they seem to grow back even faster! It’s a lot of work keeping out Grow Zone looking good.



Hunting for trolls…..

As part of the Year 3 ‘Fractured Fairytales’ topic, they have been learning all about the different parts of a fairytale and about some of the characters that are in fairytales.

All the classes had a chance to visit Hartshill Hayes to see some of the interesting evidence that WildlifeKate had found and to see if they could see anything that could suggest there might be a troll living there!

They all needed very good observation skills as everyone crept carefully all around an area that had been pointed out by WildlifeKate.

Their great skills found several pieces of evidence….

1: A den

2.  Interesting grey hair snagged on branches and holly leaves



3. Claw scrapes on a tree


4. A freshly dug holeIMG_0037

5. Some old tatty clothes

The pupils went back to the classrooms armed with lots of evidence for their writing…….

We look forward to seeing how this has informed and improved their writing!!

Grow Zone planting….

We are now motoring with all our planting for the GrowZone  and the poly tunnel has been great as it has meant we have been able to get lots of seeds planted and growing on. Different groups of pupils and different classes have been planting all sorts of different seeds including:

  • Courgettes
  • Runner beans
  • Broad beans
  • French beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
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    We are looking forward to finally getting a lot of these plants out in the Grow Zone bed, when we are sure there are not going to be any more frosts!

One keen pupil took on the weeding of one of the pallet beds… her is his ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot!

4MS all chose some seeds to plant as well.. they will be tending these and planting them out after half term. Today they planted french beans, courgette and broad beans..


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