Spring Term 2019

Session 1 - 24/01/19
 
We started off the Spring Term Wild Things with a walk around the site with binoculars to see what we could find and learning our rules as we went. We stopped at different areas around the school and looked at different habitats that previous Wild Things had created. Unfortunately, we were a little lax in taking photos for this session, but not as lax as Mr West in posting up the blog ;)
 
Session 2 - 31/01/19
 
We had a practical task today, with Wild Things helping to extend pathways we were working on last term. As the school is in the process of starting a Forest School type group, Wild Things have been enlisted as the wardens of different habitats to help create features to protect wildlife and planting schemes when the rest of the school start to use them. Today we were working in the Copse which will be the main focus of the new Forest School activities.
 
There are several issues that needed addressing in the copse, rubble and waste from the builders yard that neighboured the copse during the recent school expansion, piles of chippings from vegetation removal last summer and the lack of designated areas. Wild Things are creating paths and fences to help guide future activities around the copse and to help protect new saplings that are being planted or encouraged to self seed to 're-wild' the area. One of the new activities will be den-building so a team of Wild Things were tasked in moving big branches to a new den building zone.
 
As with all Wild Things tasks, we take health and safety very seriously, but instead of removing all risks we encourage the children to manage risks themselves. In all practical tasks we have tool talks and safe handling sessions and I am really happy to say the group really took the message on board and it was great to hear the children approaching each task by discussing and working out the safest way to accomplish their aim. 
 
We finished off the session with a quick bat game using a bat detector and a bunch of keys to show how bats use sound to find their prey.
 
Below are a few photos of the session.
 
Session 3 - 07/02/19
 
Week three was a search for the signs of spring. We used a handy guide from the Woodlands Trust to help us recognise life waking up from the cold winter. We did take photos, but they have been saved somewhere safe... very safe!
 
When we find them we will post them here, but in the meantime we have added the sheet we used in the session below.
 
We found many plants starting to shoot up and even found some snail eggs... although one little Wild Thing wanted to tick off the frogspawn off his sheet :)   We finished the session with a snow talk and looked at photos of animals tracks from the 2018 snow and asked the children to go out and look for tracks in their garden as we were expecting heavy snow (but not as heavy as we got!).
Session 4 - 14/02/19
We had another practical day with making a woven fence to protect saplings growing in an exposed place. Hopefully the saplings will thicken up quickly and encourage children to follow the path around rather than cutting through to the den-building zone and trampling them underfoot.
 
This took almost the whole session as the children had to weave hazel and willow branches to create the fence. The children loved this and we had several parents comment on it the following day. See the pics below.. although I feel I must stress that the children were taking the photos ;)
 
 
Session 5 - 28/02/19
 
This week we dug up one of our Bucket4Beetles to see what was living in the soil/wood chipping mix. We have more information on our Wild Things club page about Bucket4Beetles and how you can make your own, but this is a way of creating a simulated rotting tree stump to attract beetles (stag beetles, lesser stag beetles, click beetles, etc) that lay their eggs in or around dead trees. Once a year we dig up the Bucket4Beetles and check out the layers to see what animals are making it their home and then replenish the amount of chippings before returning it to its original location.
 
We had sightings of click beetle larvae, snake centipedes, springtails and other subterranean creatures. We did take photos at the time, but have temporarily lost them in the system. We post these up when we locate them. At least we are better at finding minibeasts than missing files ;)
 
 
Session 6 - 07/03/19
 
Our original intention of rebuilding and tidying up our minibeast mansion was scuppered by the high winds today as we felt that the straw, hay and cardboard would most likely end up in Odiham if we had tried to complete the task. As a last minute change, we opted to clean out last years bird boxes, compare some of the nests and go on a search for bird nests. 
 
One of the birdboxes held a very successful blue tit nest from last year, which had two quite large broods. However, on removing the nest from the box we found two very tiny skeletons which the children were fascinated by. We then compared this to a blackbirds nest that a parent brought in for us to look at last year. The children were able to hold each nest and look at its construction, the materials used and discuss how many baby birds would fit inside. Photos of the two nests are below.
 
We then came a very theatrical "We are going on a bird nest hunt" and we were going to find a big one. We did find another blackbird nest, a magpie nest as well as looking at known locations of where bluetits nest within the fabric of the school buildings. We also discussed different birds that could be found around the school site, including the almost daily visits from our local red kites.
Session 7 - 14/03/19
 
 
This week our trees were delivered from the Woodland Trust. We recieved 15 trees in total, 5 Rowan, 5 Hazel and 5 Silver Birch and it was Wild Things job to plant them to replace trees lost from our copse last summer.
 
The children were each given a sapling to plant into slots dug by Mr West. The children added fertiliser, heeled in their tree, staked and added a tree spiral before attaching a wooden tag with their names on. They finally watered them in and hopefully will be able to watch their sapling grow over the coming months and years.