Using Wildlife to Learn

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!


Meet ‘Wren’… a new member of the MDJS family!

WildlifeKate grew up with dogs. They were a big part of her life and many of us will have dogs as part of our family. Many, however, cannot have or do not want a dog; they may not want to make that commitment or work means they cannot take on a dog who would be left for long periods on its own. WildlifeKate wanted her next dog to be very much part of the work she does both at school and in the wildlife consultancy work.

Miss Compton likes pupils being able to interact with animals in school and we have seen the immense benefits they have brought to our pupils. We have 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs and some chickens.  We also have a lovely labrador, Pebbles, who comes in and is our ‘reading dog’. Reluctant readers come to a quiet area with bean bags and read their books to Pebbles! Pebbles is an excellent listener and always wags her tail in support of the reader!

Many children have little or no contact with animals. Our hens and rabbits give many children their first opportunity to interact with, and learn about animals.  At the weekend, WildlifeKate took on a small 11 week old collie pup who was on her way to a rescue centre. She hadn’t exactly planned on having a puppy at this point, but this little pup needed a home and was exactly what she was looking for! She has come home with WildifeKate, but will also be a school dog! Whenever WildlifeKate is in school, this little girl will be as well

Meet ‘Wren’!!

Starting her young , Wren will get used to the school environment and will be able to accompany WildlifeKate on her work outside and give children the chance to learn more about the care and responsibility of keeping a dog. She will also give lots of children the chance to have contact with a dog, help train her and see her grow up in our school environment.

Today, Wren had her first day at school and met all the pupils in assembly!


She was not phased by all the oohs and ahhs and we are all very happy to welcome to welcome her to our MDJS family.



Look out for her in and about school!


We send a team of pupils to Neovia Logistics Eco day

A few weeks ago, MDJS sent a team of pupils and some staff to the Neovia Logistics Eco Day. We had had to apply to be part of the day by sending in an application, explaining all we do in school on an eco theme….. and there is quite a lot!

A selection of schools are then chosen to be part of a days full of editing events at the Caterpillar Cmetre in Desford.  Neovia Logistics, pride themselves in being Eco friendly. Every year they run a Schools Eco day where they ask schools to bring along pupils who are involved in making their school Eco friendly and sustainable. This year the event was  held on Tuesday, 23rd June. WildlifeKate really want to be part of the day, but she was in Shetland running a wildlife tour, so Miss Chetwynd and Mr Chadwick took a selection of pupils who have worked really hard all year!

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The day commenced with each school set up an Eco tabletop display and each school did  presentations demonstrating their Eco friendly initiatives.

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The day  included a visit to the Caterpillar Visitors Centre, where everyone was able to sit in and on all the great Caterpillar machinery!

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The children were also treated to a session of learning and fun delivered in the shape of ‘Rainforest Man’.

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The day with a presentation where everyone received  a goody bag and certificate and the school received a trophy and cheque  for £250 to help us become more eco friendly and sustainable!

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There will be some official photographs over the next week or so, but a big thanks to Miss Chetwynd and Mr Chadwick who took these photos and helped our wonderful pupils have such a great day!

What happens in a Bee Hotel?

When I ask the kids what they know about bees, they always say two things… they make honey and they sting! In fact, this is probably the answer that many adults would give too.  Most kids are also frightened of bees… as soon as they hear the buzz, they move away at varying speeds!

One of my aims is to re-educate the kids… if I can change their minds and teach them all about how wonderful bees are, then they could grow up with a much more positive attitude that they will pass onto their children.

Most people seem to think that a honey bee is the only bee…. although bumble bees are also sometimes recognised.  There are, in fact,  lots of different types of bee in the UK – around 250 species! There are 24 species of bumblebees, around 225 species of solitary bee and just a single honeybee species.

The solitary bees are easily attracted to your garden and schools through the use of bee ‘hotels’. We have set a number of these up at the school I teach at and there has been a lot of activity. Some we bought and some we made ourselves. One of the best ways to teach is to model behaviour. Me, with my nose just cm from the bee hotel, is the best way to show the children that they do not have to be nervous of these bees. They will not sting. One of the best places to buy one of these, if you don’t want to make one yourself, is Morrisons. At just  £3, they are a great addition to any garden. We customised ours with artificial turf roofs!



So, what actually happens in a Bee Hotel????? One of our Year 4 classes went to find out!

The females clean out the tube and then lay an egg in the far end. Collecting pollen and nectar, they carry it in on their abdomen and stroke it off onto the egg. They keep doing this until the egg is coated in nectar and pollen. They then seal a little chamber. The red mason bees do this by collecting wet mud and making a little door. They then repeat this process, creating numerous cells, each with an egg and a ‘packed-lunch’!

The egg then hatches, eats the nectar and pollen and the larva grows and eventually pupates. It remains in the cocoon all winter, to emerge the following spring. What is incredible is that the eggs that are at the front hatch first and they are males. These males wait on the outside, until the females nibble their way out. The whole cycle then starts again.

The children are fascinated by this cycle and love watching the bees flying in and out. What has made it even more fascinating is the observation hotel that my good friend, Dave Harper made for me. This means that the children can actually see the chambers… and they LOVE it!


I am determined to make sure the children are all aware of the wonderful world of solitary bees… and bumble bees…. and all the pollinators that ensure we have all the food we need….


New Rare Piglets born!

We are lucky enough to be able to pop over the road to the High School to see the animals they keep there. Recently, the school acquired a very special pig… she is a species called a British Landrace Pig. Shipped over from Northern Ireland, she is an incredibly rare pig! This species is even rarer than snow leopards and giant pandas!

“Each of the animals represents 50 per cent of the mainland population of their bloodline so they definitely are very important pigs,” explained Miss Simpkin at the school.

A few weeks ago nine beautiful piglets were born and Photography Club went over to take their picture. They were a little shy, preferring to stay in their sty but we did get some shots of them!

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It was very exciting to be able to see these beautiful babies and to be able to go right in the pen. This breed is very passive and the female was not worried at all by our presence. How wonderful that these new youngsters will help to ensure that this rare breed continues to thrive. Photography Club will be uploading their images this week  and we’ll pop some on the blog soon.

Delicious Fresh Rhubarb Crumble !

We have grown a huge patch of Rhubarb in our Grow Zone and Mr Trew’s Class, Mr Ashford’s Class and Green Team made the most of it by making a selection of rhubarb crumbles in school this week. The Rhubarb was harvested and the leaves and stems were ENORMOUS!Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.58.10 Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.58.20 Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 13.00.07

Most of the pupils were unable to identify the rhubarb and many had never tasted it!

We chopped the rhubarb up and stewed it…

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Then, we made some crumble and spread it on top, before popping it in the oven!

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The best bit was then taking it to the class to try… nothing better than fresh rhubarb crumble and custard!!

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Grow Zone Updates

The Grow Zone is finally beginning to take off with our fruit and vegetables starting to take root and grow. Thank you to the parents and grandparents who have donated plants. If you have anything spare, then do send them into school and your child can plant them into their Grow Zone bed.

Pupils from each class have come out to plant, weed and care for their beds and we are looking forward to a good harvest later in the year!

A group of Year 6 pupils spruced up their area and planted some more veg after topping up the pallet beds with soil. This area now has a special watering system as it gets very hot and dry there. Last week the temperature hit 29 degrees on the wall!

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Tidying and Planting

The Year 5 and 6 Eco-committee spent some time in part of the Grow Zone, tidying, weeding and planting today. There were lots of jobs to do and, by working as a team, we soon had everything looking tidier and sorted. This area of our Grow Zone gets a lot of sun so it can dry out quite easily. Mr Chadwick and WildlifeKate have put in a special watering system attached to our hose. It will have a timer, so that the timer will turn on the water and water our plants in half term.

Everyone worked hard and we planted beans, tomatoes, butternut squash, some red currents and white currents…

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Let’s hope we can harvest some of these before the end of the summer term!!

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