Using Wildlife to Learn

Making More Hibernation homes…

The Green Teams and the Outdoor Explorers have been busy in the last week or so, making and putting finishing touches to their hibernation homes. These could be suitable for all sorts of animals that would like to shelter in cold weather, but we would really like some hedgehogs to use these!

We started by going to the Hayes and collecting lots of sticks and twigs. Then, we used string and cable ties to create a tent-like structure…..


Once the structure was complete, we pulled up grass and packed it all around our structure until we could not see any gaps…


Deciding where to position our Hibernation Home, we carried them to under the hedges and around the perimeter of the Wild Learning Area. We then got the wheelbarrow and collected lots of lovely leaves. These would act like a big duvet over our shelter, helping to protect the occupants from the cold weather. We put the leaves on top and packed them down…



We had two model hedgehogs and we tested the Hibernation Home to see if they could fit in and looked cosy! We were very pleased with the results and these shelters had cost us nothing but our time and we thought they were much nicer than some of the shop bought hedgehog homes.


Now,we just hope a hedgehog will decide that they are the perfect place to sleep the winter away!


Creating Wildlife Hibernation Shelters

The Green teams have been working hard to create some hibernation shelters for our Wild Learning Area. We talked about animals that might need shelter over the winter months. These could include lots of small mammals like mice and voles. Some animals hibernate over the winter. This means they go into a deep sleep and sleep all through the winter months when there is not much food around. They stock up in the Autumn and get as fat as they can before going into hibernation. In the UK, hedgehogs hibernate. They need somewhere sheltered and dry and they will make a bed of leaves to curl up in.

Green Team decided to help out! Collecting lots of sticks and twigs, we brought them back into the outdoor classroom area. Working as a team, they had to construct a small shelter that would be study enough to stay together. It would then be covered in leaves and branches, with an entrance left open. We plan to put them in the Wild Learning Area and see if anything decides to use them!

The teams  worked really well and the constructions were pretty impressive! If we were hedgehogs, we decided that we would like to take up residence!

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Become a Stone Age Forager….

Year 3 pupils are learning all about what it was like to live in the Stone Age. When you live in the 21st century, it is difficult to imagine what life was like without any of the modern day technologies and luxuries that we take for granted today.

To help pupils begin to understand some of what life was like, WildlifeKate took them into the Hayes to learn more about how they used to hunt and forage for food.

To replicate how hard it was to forage for enough to eat, WildlifeKate hid some food in the Hayes. First, there were Rice Crispies. These represented small berries and they were worth 1 health point each. Also hidden were Shreddies! The Shreddies represented tasty leaves and roots that may have been found and eaten. These were worth 5 health points. The pupils had to forage for these food items, imagining that whatever they found in half an hour would have to sustain them for most of the day!

It was not as easy as they first thought and it was hard to look carefully and find all the food before someone else did!


By the end of the session, everyone looked at what they had collected and imagined what it would be like if that was all they had to eat unless they went foraging again! There was not a lot of food! Everyone decided that foraging was a tough way to find food and ti made everyone appreciate a little more what life might have been like back in those times!

We all enjoyed the activity, but we were glad to head back to school , where our school dinner awaited us!

You can see more images from our Stone Age foraging on our Flickr account Album.

Time for an Autumnal tidy up!

The Grow Zone and our school grounds, just like our gardens at home, are not looking their best at this time of year. Everything has died down and is looking a bit sad. We like to leave the old flower heads on all of the plants for as long as possible as this is where all the seeds are made. We let many of these plants self-seed in our wildlife area, so they grow new plants next year.

The Green Teams helped to begin to dig up all the old plants in the Grow Zone area and to dig over the beds. They also collected up all the old bits and pieces and helped to make the area look tidy for the winter.


It was soon looking better!


Some other Green Team members learnt hope to use secateurs  and shears safely before tackling some of the plants in the courtyard…

A great job done by all!!

Autumnal Colours!

With such mild weather this Autumn, the leaf colours have been spectacular! The Green Teams have spent a lot of time down at the Hayes and we have been marvelling at the wide range of colours in these beautiful leaves. We wanted to capture this, so collected colour of cards with double side tape. We had three sections and we had to try to fill by looking carefully at all the different shades of different colours. In the red section of our card, we had to find browns and reds, the green section was for all the different greens and finally, the orange section was for all the gorgeous yellows and oranges around!

Tearing off just a tiny section of the leaf, we tried to fill the sections of our cards with the many beautiful shades and hues.


We were amazed at how many different shades there were as we built them up!

The other benefit of autumn leaves is that they are great to play in! WildlifeKate told us about how she used to create ‘leaf rain’ when she was a child! We had never done it, so we had a go… great fun throwing leaves up in the air and running under them….. simply joys!


Wren, our school dog, also enjoyed time out in the woods with us!


Green Teams to create Winter Habitats

With the colder weather fast approaching, the Green Teams are helping our local wildlife  by creating a range of winter habitats for a range of wildlife. We are refreshing our Bug Hotel and also creating some habitats suitable for creatures such as hedgehogs who might be looking to hibernate in our school grounds.

We like to recycle and use materials that are available in our natural environment, so the Green Teams and Wildlife Explorers spent time collecting lots of twigs and sticks with which to construct our wildlife shelters.screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-13-23-23screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-13-23-31


We will be constructing our shelters over the coming weeks and will update our blog with photos!

Our Eco-Committee Children in Need Ramble Success!


Many of us are regular watchers of Countryfile and, when we saw them advertise their ‘Countryfile Ramble’ in aid of Children in Need, the eco-committee thought it would be great to get involved!

The pupils were raring to go on Monday afternoon! We all had our Children in Need MDJS flags. The Year 6 boys had even dressed up! Wren was joining us, along with two other members of staff and we set off to work our way around Hartshill Hayes, a great woodland resource right on the school’s doorstep.


We took a couple of Pudsey bears too and the children chose where to take photos of them!


We had a fantastic afternoon, walking for an hour and a half…. and for about 7km. The pupils were absolutely fantastic! Full of enthusiasm and not a single moan, despite some large hills!


It was an absolute pleasure to take this group of pupils out for the afternoon and we all had such a lovely time exploring our local green space. We finally arrived back to the gate, to head back to school in time for the end of the school day.



Within a week, we had all collected our sponsor money in and this group of amazing children managed to raise MORE THAN £300!!!! A SUPERB effort and we had such a lovely afternoon! An extra special well done to Jack who raised the most money through sponsorship. He won this Animals of the UK  book!screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-21-25-33


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.

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