From understanding comes strength
We worked in Clune Wood, Durris and had fun exploring and getting to know each other better. We used all our senses to identify and describe different natural materials whilst blindfolded. We cut and decorated wood slices and followed the story trail looking for clues as we went
Wednesday 9th September
It was our first visit to Dalvenie Care Home and we were busy clearing out their old, unloved greenhouse. We identified two areas in their garden space which we will plant up into a wild garden and a wild meadow.
At the garden centre we choose plants which we will need to fill these spaces. These included spring bulbs, herbs and insect attracting plants.
Wednesday 26th September
We investigated beach landscapes today to compare with the other environments we have worked in. Our beach scavenger hunt was great fun and we found a huge variety of natural items from driftwood to sea glass and unusual pebbles.
We made stone stacks on the beach which required skills in finding flat pebbles, ordering them by size and shape and using great precision.
Our final task was to complete a beach tidy. Even in the short part of the beach we worked on we found litter of many varieties.
Wednesday 19th September
We began the work we will be doing with Dalvenie Care Home by learning how to plant the bulbs, seeds and herbs we bought at the garden centre. These were taken over to the garden ready to be planted or placed in the greenhouse.
We made posters to show what we are planning to do; our wild meadow and wildlife garden and then spent time with some of the residents. We were able to serve them tea and cakes and have a chat. They were very interested to hear about our plans for their garden and look at our posters. It was so beneficial for both groups to have some time to interact.
Wednesday 3rd October
As part of our John Muir Award and our RSPB Wild Challenge we completed some ‘help nature’ and some ‘experience nature’ activities today. We learned how to light, watch over and safely extinguish a small fire then used these skills to boil Kelly Kettles for our hot drink.
To explore what kind of animals live in the woods we set up a night vision camera which we hope will capture anything that is enticed by our food! We also laid a tracking box which will capture the footprints of mice, voles or shrews which come for a nibble!
To help wildlife we put up a squirrel feeding box and learned about them.
Our afternoon was spent planting up our wildlife garden at Dalvenie Care Home. We dug in two ponds, planted our insect attracting plants and made a log pile home for minibeasts.
We were happy to see lots of wood mice footprints in our tracking box which we left in the woods last week. We hope our wildlife camera has captured some of their movements.
We learned how to measure a 1 metre squared area, then counted the variety of natural items within that square. We used tally marks to record what we found then turned our information into a bar graph.
To investigate whether the stream within Clune Wood is clean or polluted we did some kick sampling and looked at what was living in the stream. We found different varieties of larvae and fresh water limpets so we know the stream is clean.
Our knife skills were used to whittle a sharp stick for marshmallow toasting and we completed the day by doing a bit of wild writing to reflect on some of our activities so far.
Wednesday 31st October
Today we were lucky enough to work with a lady called Willow Lohr. Willow is a bush craft and survival expert and she travels the world delivering outdoor session to both children and adults.
Willow taught us how to make a spear with a sharp arrow head. It required careful knife work and using tree sap mixed with charcoal to bind the arrow head onto the whittled stick. We were all very excited to see and handle all the animal pelts and skulls that Willow has collected over the years. We learned about carnivores and herbivores and looked at their teeth to understand the different ways they ate. We also learned about prey and hunters and the different ways species have adapted to protect themselves.
We discussed fire and how essential it is to keep warm and cook food if lost in the wild. We looked at different tinder’s and at how best to start a fire if we only had one match!
Wednesday 7th November
We were out and about today visiting Carnie Wood in Kingswells and the Duthie Park in Aberdeen. As part of our RSPB Wild Challenge we did a bird watch challenge at Carnie Wood. This required us to sit still in one place and record the number of birds that visited the area in that time. Quite a large variety of birds were recorded. We were lucky enough to also see some red squirrels playing in the woods.
At the Duthie Park we completed an orienteering task which was especially challenging due to the wind and rain! Everyone showed great determination despite this. We went on a plant safari to again, help us towards the next level of our RSPB Wild Challenge. Nine different plants and shrubs had to be found within the grounds and we found most of them and many more that weren’t on our sheet.
The Winter Gardens gave us some solace from the weather and we had to find/choose leaves, plants and trees which were of interest to us. Sometimes we looked for the biggest leaf or the smoothest/roughest. We found flowers in a huge variety of colours and some that even looked like deer antlers.
Wednesday 14th November
We continued our work for Dalvenie Care home today by making bird feeders to hand in their garden. We want to attract birds, so the residents can watch them coming to the garden from the comfort of their chair. We used recycled materials to make a simple wooden spoon and bottle bird food hanger. To add interest, we used the pyrography pens to create nature images on the wooden spoons. We think they look pretty good!
Our next task was to make natural paint. We used raspberries, blackberries, turmeric, mustard powder and spinach which we ground down with a tiny amount of water. We use the paint to create natural scenes onto simple cotton pieces which was then glued round recycled jars. Hey presto, tea light holders!
Finally, we had a garden tidy in the Dalvenie garden. There were lots of leaves needing raked and a pile of old pots needing tidied away. We even found some old spring bulbs which we have planted. Our wildlife garden is coming on well and our ponds have naturally filled up due to the rain. Our day completed with a cup of tea and cake with some of the residents.
Wednesday 21st November
Today we went to Clune Wood and despite the wet weather we had a productive day. We developed our knife skills by using them to whittle and carve a stick we will use next week. We also experimented with different ways of starting a small fire using only one stick and one match. This was particularly challenging today because of the wind!
As part of our RSPB Wild Challenge we completed a minibeast safari activity. Logs and stones were turned over and bark lifted to look for evidence of insects. We learned about different insect habitats. To continue our learning about native Scottish wildlife we played ‘Who Am I’ game.
Our day finished with making torches and lighting them. We even had a competition to see which one would burn for the longest!
Wednesday 28th November
We investigated herbs today as part of learning about the plants we are growing for Dalvenie Care Home. We worked in small groups and started in Tesco where we had a shopping list for our cooking later in the day. Each team was tasked with buying items at the cheapest price. The highest basket was £9.56 and the cheapest was £2.93, a huge saving. Back at school we used all our senses to identify 10 different herbs and learned about how they are used. Each group made tomato soup with one group using basil, one rosemary and the last group used oregano. Our taste test was interesting because everyone was able to taste the difference between the herbs used. We researched natural Christmas decorations at Raemoir Garden Centre and looked at how they have been made. We will choose one we like to make in the forest before Christmas.
Wednesday 5th December
We spent a frosty day at Burn O’Vat and had fun exploring the vat and the walking paths around the nature reserve. We raced our whittled sticks down the small burn and had fun climbing into the vat and collecting icicles along the way. As part of our RSPB Wild Challenge we collected small natural items and then looked closely for them. We chose one thing to draw in detail. The visitors centre had a huge variety of skulls, skins and information about native species found in the area. We learned a lot about the landscape around the Cairngorms. We used clay to make a natural picture/animal or expression of any natural things we had seen and learned about.
12th December 2018
It was our final day in the forest and we brought together all our skills to make some natural Christmas decorations. We used a variety of tools, knives and team work to create a Santa family, a Christmas garland. Our team challenge was to make a hanging stick tree which we had to do by following written instructions. We had to measure, cut and drill all the pieces to complete our decoration.