Tabassum Fatima, Chloe Mason, Katy Harley & Sophie Steadman write about their schools’ visits to Martineau Gardens which was funded by a Kenrick bursary from NAEE.
The itinerary lived up to its promise of delivering a well-rounded experience of the botanical and zoological aspects of the year 6 curriculum. The visual aids and use of the first person to talk about the biographical detail of the scientists (Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace and Carl Linnaeus) helped the children to consolidate and deepen their knowledge of adaptation, evolution and classification. With the diagrammatic representation of Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’, it was clear the children understood the metaphor and were able to see the progression of the information they had met previously as a sorting diagram. In that sense, it was an innovative way to present the facts.
Moving into the wooded area to explore the trees and using the various classification keys to identify the species was a very good activity. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and were keen to find more examples and put the key to further use. It also gave the chance to learn further vocabulary, particularly adjectives, which was a useful link to English, once again.
Whilst in the Forest School area, the sensory and visual experience provided the perfect setting for the next round of activities. The rich content of flora and fauna was wonderful in complementing what the children needed to know in order to complete the activities. Despite being year 6 pupils, the children thoroughly enjoyed the chance to play in the sand and on the ‘shipwreck’. The creative outdoor furniture added to the ambience of being in the great outdoors.
Exploring the flower and herb gardens with an expert was another incredible part of the day. This was brought to life with the chance to see fruit and vegetables growing and also tasting the herbs. Attention to detail, not only in terms of subject knowledge and pedagogical strategies for child-centred delivery, but also showing the children the importance of health and safety, was also demonstrated beautifully throughout the session.
Back at school, the children were able to continue with the follow-up work provided by the Gardens and also diverge towards their work on the importance of bees. The complimentary packet of flowers for bees (provided by the Royal Entomological Society as part of National Insect Week) was used enthusiastically in the school grounds, with further ambitions of contacting Martineau Gardens to pursue with other ventures and ideas to get the community involved, too. All in all, it was a very positive and commendable experience which we will be recommending to other year groups to enjoy in the future.
Details of the Kenrick Bursary scheme for schools across the West Midlands can be found here.