Nicola from The World is Their Classroom is a home educator to her five children aged 15, 12, 9, 7 and 4. She is passionate about making learning fun and often takes her lessons outside, capturing the importance of learning outdoors. You can find ideas for educational products and activities on The World Is Their Classroom, a website bursting with creative and engaging ideas for children of all ages.
Do you have a set of these bears in your classroom or in your home? Perhaps your children recognise them from their school, or maybe you played with them in your nursery back in the 90’s.
Did you know that it’s thanks to these little coloured bear counters that Learning Resources is able to celebrate 25 years of providing hands-on learning to schools and homes throughout the UK, the rest of Europe and beyond?
What is social-emotional learning?
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social-emotional learning (SEL) as:
“… the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
This month we are taking part in The Wildlife Trusts’ #30dayswild campaign! We took a trip to Cley Marshes Nature Reserve on the north Norfolk coast to meet with their Community Education Officer, Rachael Wright. We asked her all about the campaign, why it is so important and how you can get involved!
Tell us about Cley Marshes Nature Reserve:
It is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest and best known nature reserve and was purchased in 1926. The reserve includes an award-winning visitor centre, a gallery and a Wildlife Education Centre named in memory of the naturalist, Simon Aspinall.
We are well known for the birds on site. The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reed bed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
[Image of Marsh Harrier, credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust Website]
What does your role at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust involve?
I organise our events programme and exhibitions. We work with local community groups and I take school groups and other education visitors out on the reserve. The Cley Marshes provides school groups with great opportunities to explore both coastal and wetland habitats!
What’s your favourite thing about your role?
A trip to the beach is often filled with excitement as young learners take on the role of adventurers and explorers! The beach environment sparks their natural curiosity and provides the freedom to explore nature in a fun, creative and practical way. Rich in different textures, smells, sights and tastes, a trip to the beach can ignite the senses and is perfect for all types of learners.
If you are planning to visit a beach this summer, here are our ten top tips to maximise exploration and discovery!
1) Beach Scavenger hunt
If you have time to prepare before your trip, a beach scavenger hunt will keep little ones entertained and learning all day long! Create a checklist of things for them to look for including:
- Flat pebble
- Layered stone
- Crab shell
- A stone with a hole in
- Sand castle
- Deck Chair
- Pink T-Shirt
- Flip Flops
Shout each one out as you go along or create a checklist to attach to a bucket for them to fill with their discoveries.
2) Water relay race
This is a great activity if you are at the beach with a large group of children. Mark out some check points in the sand and stagger each team along them. The first person to set off balances a full bucket of sea water on their head and passes it to the next person at the first check point. The aim of the game is to have the most sea water in your bucket by the end of the race!
3) Sand Portraits
Creativity can be found in lots of places, especially at the beach! This activity can be done individually or as a competition in a group. Ask your young learners to create a self portrait in the sand. They can use their hands or spades to draw the main image and then use beach materials such as seaweed and shells to decorate!
This month we are getting wild about learning and taking to the great outdoors to spend time surrounded by nature. The outdoors offers rich learning experiences and inspires creativity and imagination! Nursery educator, Margaret McMilan, once said ‘The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky’ and we agree!
We’ve put together =&0=&, ranging from butterfly spotting and nature trails to raft building and flower pressing.
We even have some free downloadable spotting sheets for you to try too!
What will you discover?
1) Butterfly Spotting
There are 59 species of butterfly in the UK with some of the most common being Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Comma, Holly Blue and Peacock. Butterflies are found in a variety of habitats all over the world and are usually easy to spot in the warmer months. Try our Butterfly Spotting Sheet to see how many you can find!
2) Bird Watching
Birds and wildlife are often closer than you think! Watching and identifying birds is a fun activity that you can do in your garden or when you’re out and about. Can you spot a robin? Can you see a seagull?
3) Nature Trail
Explore a new outside space by going on a nature trail! Take time to observe surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for trees, plants, animals and insects! Can you find different habitats? Can you draw your discoveries? Use a child-friendly magnifier to see if you can discover new details that are invisible to the naked eye.
4) Dinosaur Habitats
Create a habitat for toy dinosaurs in your garden! Collect grass, sticks and stones to build a Jurassic themed adventure within a tray or sandpit. Talk about the different habitat each dinosaur would like and don’t forget to leave out food and water!
5) Garden Olympics
If the sun is shining, why not encourage active play with some fun outdoor games? Obstacle courses are a great and simple way to get the whole family competing and having fun! Lay out challenges in different areas of the garden such as:
- Bean-bag balancing
- Cone weaving
- Relay racing
- Tunnel crawling
- Stilts walking
Composting is nature’s way of recycling biodegradable materials. Go on a scavenger hunt around your house and local area to collect as many biodegradable items as possible.
- Things like paper, food scraps, wood, grass and leaves are biodegradable and will easily decay.
- Things like aluminium cans and plastic bottles are non-biodegradable and will not decay.
Create a compost heap in a bucket by layering the biodegradable items you have collected with newspaper, wood cuttings and leaves. Add water as needed to keep the compost moist and make sure the lid is kept on, mixing the compost every few days to keep it aerated.
Ask your children to predict what will happen and in 2-4 weeks examine the contents of the bucket. Are any of the items you collected recognisable?
Name: Shelly from OFamily Learning Together
Age of child: 8 and 6 years old
Product testing: Mathlink® Cubes Activity Set
“Shelly is a Chartered Accountant who is now a home-educating mum to two kids. She blogs about the learning activities that they do at home and shares resources that they have used and enjoyed on the OFamily Learning Together blog.”
What were your first thoughts when the resource arrived?
I initially thought it was snap cubes with some activity cards added. But my son immediately noticed the different shapes on each side of the cubes.
How did you use it?
We started off using the activity cards but the kids quickly branched out into using the cubes for their own activities. My son used the cubes to create his own sums and after completing the 3D shape cards both my kids played around with the cubes creating their own shapes and tried to find ways of combining smaller shapes into bigger shapes.
What are the educational benefits?
Fibonacci’s real name was Leonardo Pisano Bogollo. He was born in Pisa, Italy, in 1170. History states that Fibonacci was his nickname which roughly translates as “Son of Bonacci”. His father was a merchant named Guglielmo Bonaccio.
He travelled widely and traded extensively.
Maths was incredibly important to those in the trading industry, and Fibonacci’s passion for numbers was cultivated in his youth. He spent his childhood in North Africa where he studied the Hindu-Arabic arithmetic system and learnt of decimal numbers.
In 1200 he returned to Pisa and used the knowledge he had gained on his
travels to write Liber Abaci (published in 1202) which roughly translates as ‘book of calculations’. The book introduced Indian mathematics to the west and shared his knowledge of Arabic numerals which went on to replace the roman numeral system.
The first chapter of the book states:
Name: Emma from Me and B Make Tea
Age of child: 3 years
Product Testing: Gears! Gears! Gears!® Space Explorers Building Set
“Emma is a mum of one very inquisitive boy. He is very nearly four and loves anything to do with science. She blogs over at Me and B Make Tea and loves trying anything science related! Her blog started out as a way to document healthy eating but it quickly grew to cover all things parenting and life.”
What were your first thoughts when the toy arrived?
Brandon, my son, wanted to get the spacemen and rocket out straight away. Daddy helped us stick all the stickers on and set up our gears. Another first thought was that this toy looked bright and perfect for inspiring young imaginations.
How did you use it?
First up we followed the instructions and built the space gears as they are shown on the box. We then experimented with different space scenarios over the next few days.
What are the educational benefits?
This toy is ideal for creative thinking and using your imagination. Brandon learnt how energy travels through the gears to move other gears along the space set up. We played with this toy with him and explained what was happening. I think on his own, he would have got frustrated with trying to put it all together properly. Some adult supervision and help is needed for a 3-4 year old.
What did you like/dislike about the toy?
Name: Selena Ledgerton
Title: Web, Media & Marketing Manager at All About STEM
Age of testers: 8 Years old – All About STEM Mini-STEMmer
Product Testing: Zoomy™ 2.0 Handheld Digital Microscope
“Selena works as All About STEM’s Web, Media & Marketing Manager. All About STEM works on numerous projects to bring exciting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to schools across Merseyside, Cheshire and Warrington. They link schools with business, industry & expert volunteers to inspire the next generation of STEM specialists. As part of their work they have ran The Big Bang North West for the last four years, they manage the STEM Ambassador STEM Hub for Cheshire and Merseyside on behalf of STEM Learning and co-manage the Enterprise Adviser Network in the Liverpool City Region for The Careers & Enterprise Company.”
What were your first thoughts when the product arrived?