samad-article-photoHooda Samad Reception teacher, Montgomery Primary Academy, Birmingham

As a ‘Talk 4 Writing’ school, we always focus our literacy around a story; this half term, Reception children are reading The Bad-Tempered Ladybird by Eric Carle. To immerse the children into the story, we planned a trip to Martineau Gardens which gave them hands-on experience by going on a minibeast hunt around the woods and pond dipping to find some insects that live in water.

After spending an amazing day at Martineau Gardens and learning about minibeasts, fruit and vegetables and how they grow, the children came back to school eager to start their learning. We enjoyed looking at the pictures of our trip and learning about non-fiction writing by learning how to write lists, captions and to use time connectives to write a recount of the trip.

The children also used the experience that they had at the Gardens when taking part in a range of different creative activities based on The Bad-Tempered Ladybird — for example painting, clay modelling, junk modelling — to create minibeasts.

Our experience at Martineau Gardens encouraged children to look at books in the library that taught them all about bugs. Reading books about insects also became a starting point for rich conversations between children describing minibeasts and their habitats.

As a school we understand the importance of children’s voices in their learning, so after the trip we asked the children what they had enjoyed about the trip and what they wanted to learn more about. After listening to their ideas, the teachers planned activities based on the children’s interests and fascination which helped them feel respected that their views and opinions are important.

As we had learnt about plants at the Gardens, the children decided they wanted to plant some herbs and create their own sensory garden. This will allow them to take ownership of their garden and learn to be responsible as they will be the ones who plant the seeds and nurture them. The skills acquired will then help them to look after their local environment just like they look after their school environment

Editor’s note: Montgomery Primary School visited Martineau Gardens, funded by an NAEE Hugh Kenrick bursary.

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This article was first published in NAEE’s Autumn 2016 journal, Environmental Education (Vol. 113).  To read more articles like this, you can join the Association and receive three journals a year.