3 Activities For Bringing Nature Into Your School
With the majority of young people growing up in an inner-city area and urban areas, many children can go through their whole childhood without really connecting with the natural world around them.
Even with many schools being surrounded by open, green space, they’re often nothing more than dead zones for biodiversity and barren of wildlife like birds, squirrels, and butterflies. It can seem somewhat secondary to core subjects like English and mathematics, but the life cycles found in nature underpin everything, and so not growing up with a clear idea of how they fit into it all can leave a huge hole in students’ understanding of the world.
It’s for this reason the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) started the Campaign for School Gardening, a programme that now has over 20,000 school members. A whopping 80 percent of which have got their schools actively involved in growing plants specifically to attract wildlife and pollinators.
If your school is not yet a member, it’s worth checking their website out today. But no matter if you’re signed up or not, they offer a wealth of free resources for helping convey the importance of nature and getting students in touch with the beautiful, diverse world around them.
Healthy fruits and veggies
The healthy fruits and veggies lesson plan is perfect if your school has a greenhouse or vegetable patch, but even if you don’t, you can still use it in the classroom to help students learn about the importance of eating a balanced diet.
Linking to the curriculum of KS1 and 2 Science, the lesson plan demonstrates the role that fruit and vegetables play in our diet through the act of planning a vegetable garden. First, it grabs students attention by finding out and tallying their favourite and least favourite fruits and veggies. Then, it begins to explore the roots of the foods and how they make the journey from seed to plate.
The class then explore how and when to grow them, and, by combining this with the tally data, plan out a vegetable plot. Finally, you can look together at what vitamins and minerals each of the plants contain.
The flower spotter exercise is ideal for inside or outside the classroom as students can pick flowers and analyse them in-situ or bring them back to the desk. It teaches students that flowers exist in many different forms through getting them to observe a range of flower inflorescence.
Begin by asking students to point out their various sizes and shapes, students first learn the main markers for the identification of different flowers. They then go on to discover how specific flowers have adapted to attract pollinating insects.
Using the spotter sheets contained in the exercise, students can search for different types of flowers in the school grounds or a local area. They then match up flowers with the pictures on the sheet, noting the form and inflorescence and coming together at the end to discuss what they found. Simply print out the sheets and hand out pencils, clipboards, and magnifying glasses, and you’re good to go!
The soil scientist lesson plan is great as no matter what your resources, it’s likely you can get your hands on some soil. With it, students can learn all about scientific methodology, including how to conduct a fair test, observe and record plant growth, and interpret data.
It’s ideal if you also have access to homemade compost as it will provide the best comparison to typical soil. After collecting both and putting them through a sieve, you present the group with the equipment — pots, trowels, gloves, etc. — and ask them how they’d conduct a fair test to see which soil provides the best foundation for the plants.
Students then make predictions based on their assumptions and record growth over the following weeks by measuring the height and counting the number of leaves and flowers. An interaction lesson plan that will keep students engaged for weeks!
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