8th February 2024
It has been a busy term with various school activities, and we have only been able to meet twice over the last few months. This week we welcomed our Eco Representatives from Years 1, 2 and 3 to do an activity with the Year 5 and 6 Eco Councillors - making more pinecone bird feeders filled with lard and bird seed. They enjoyed this messy activity and took the birdfeeders home to hang in their gardens to help our hungry birds. We then had a talk about Eco Club and their roles. They will join us again later in the year for further fun activities. While this was taking place, the Year 4 Councillors were working on another project. Some of the bamboo tubes in our bug hotel had uneven and jagged ends, which could injure solitary bees' bodies as they try to fly in to make a home. So we smoothed the edges beautifully with sandpaper, trying out different methods of sanding. The tubes are now bee-safe and can be put back into the hotel.
19th January 2024
For our first session of the new year, we participated in the annual RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch - the largest citizen science project for schools. Thankfully, it was a lovely sunny day and we headed out first to the Year 5/6 garden, equipped with clipboards, recording sheets and photographs of the birds we might see. We talked about how to record birds : count the number of blue tits (for example) that you see at one time, record as a tally and then put a comma after that tally. If you see more blue tits later, make a new tally for this number and put a comma after it. At the end, we use the largest tally for our final blue tit number, and we know that we haven't counted the same birds twice for our final total. Next we visited the Year 1/2 garden, where we saw many birds and even found a nest. Finally, we trekked round to the Year 3/4 garden, noticed the bird box, looked at our new bug hotel and spotted a few more birds. We discussed how important citizen science projects are - they provide data from all over the UK to scientists which would otherwise be very difficult for them to gather. Our data has been submitted to the RSPB and we look forward to hearing how bird numbers this year compare to previous years. We certainly saw more birds in our school grounds this year than in last year's birdwatch!
8th December 2023
For our last full session of the year, we made Christmas treats for the birds! We mixed bird seed into lard - very messy. Then we packed the mixture into pine cones, which had been heated in the oven to open up their scales. Finally, we tied a string onto the pine cone for attaching to a tree. Our warm hands had made the lard quite gloopy, so the pine cones were then put into the fridge to firm up. We took them home after the weekend - a delicious and nutritious treat for our hungry garden birds!
Earlier in the week, a mystery parcel had arrived at school, addressed to 'Eco Club.' We waited until there was a time that we were all free, at the beginning of Thursday's break, to gather together and open it. Inside was a letter from our contact at RAF Central Fund, thanking us for the 'amazing' posters we had designed for the Feshiebridge Lodges. They were so impressed with them that they are having the posters professionally copied and put up, not only in the Lodges, but also at their other sites - RAF Danesfield (water sports centre) and RAF Vine Lane (cricket centre). In addition to this lovely thank you letter, there was a box of mini RAF Central Fund frisbees! We were surprised by and delighted with these gifts - they were quickly distributed and taken to the playground to try out! What a lovely way to end the year.
1st December 2023
November is at an end and our Cut Your Carbon challenge has now finished. In pairs, we went round all classes to collect the data : how many children and adults had completed each of the nine actions. The results showed that many of our school community had taken part and were successful in the challenge. The actions scoring highest were 'Ditch the Drive' and 'Love your Leftovers' while the lowest scorers were 'Veggie Vibes' and 'Drop it Like it's Hot.' Hopefully, many will carry on with these actions, continuing to cut their carbon!
Later in the week, we planted pots of garlic. Garlic is planted in late autumn so that it goes through a cold spell before being harvested in the early summer. This cold period helps it to form a bulb with many cloves. Without it, the garlic will not form cloves - it will be like an onion-shaped garlic, but still tasty!
We also brainstormed ideas for projects and activities in the new year, including some fundraising ideas.
24th November 2023
This week we held two planting sessions, taking advantage of the dry weather. We were very lucky to have been given a large bag of daffodil bulbs and chose to plant them along the fenceline near the main entrance into school. Every 30 cm, we lay a bulb on the soil - almost had enough to plant the whole fenceline! Then came the hard part - digging holes in the heavy soil. We used 'test sticks' to ensure our holes were the right depth for our bulbs. Worms proved a huge distraction! There were many, showing that the soil is healthy. One very small worm had formed itself into a heart shape! Now we will just need to be patient through the winter and keep looking out for the first green shoots.
17th November 2023
Finally having the time to take a photo of Eco Club members for our display board, we decided to make the shapes of letters (ECO) instead of standing in lines or a group. Because we were in spotty clothes for Children in Need day, the pictures look extra fun!
A message was shared from Glenfeshie - the posters are 'amazing!' That was really lovely to hear.
We then had a discussion about how we are doing with our Cut Your Carbon challenge. Some of us had lost the checklist or forgotten about it and some had nearly completed all of the challenges. Someone was really struggling with one challenge, and we discussed options with her. It is the half way point in the challenge and we decided that a reminder/offers of help should be shared with all of the classes. So we chose fourteen children, two per class, to visit all of the classes on Friday afternoon, to have a brief chat and answer any questions. Hopefully this will give us all a boost to carry on cutting our carbon!
10th November 2023
We took advantage of the dry weather this week to do some container planting outside. Small groups planted bulb lasagnes - layers of bulbs and compost in the pot, which will hopefully give a long flowering display in the spring. We planted tulips, small and large daffodils and two varieties of Muscari - great for pollinators. To add interest, colour and food for pollinators, we planted winter pansies on the top of the bulb lasagnes. The bulbs will push up through the pansies in the spring. Then we carried the pots to heavily-trafficked spots around school where they will be seen and enjoyed by the most people.
On Friday there was a final session to complete the last of the posters. They are done and on their way to Scotland!
3rd November 2023
We have nearly finished our posters for the Glenfeshie Lodges. Just a few finishing touches to be added to some next week. The designs are so varied - from talking light bulbs to fiery earths to beautiful sea turtles and otters. The posters will soon be on their way to Scotland, to remind the Lodge guests to look after our environment.
On Monday morning, the Year 6s delivered a brilliant assembly on our Cut Your Carbon challenge, which began on the 1st November. All children and adults have received a checklist of simple actions to take over the month, with the focus on discussing them with family and doing what you can, no pressure. Doing something is better than doing nothing!
20th October 2023
Welcome back, Eco Club! We are looking forward to another fantastic year.
We've held four meetings so far and have chosen the three topics on which we'll focus this year : Biodiversity, School Grounds and Global Citizenship. A second vote was needed to settle the tie between Litter and Global Citizenship, but we will probably still do some litter-related activities. Our week-long litter pick last year was a great success!
Taking advantage of the dry weather, we had a look around the Year 5/6 garden, seeing the amazing growth our native hedge has put on and finding and photographing a beautiful wasp spider. After the building work, the garden is rather untidy - great for wildlife, but it needs some work to make it safe and enjoyable for people, so we wrote down our suggestions.
We have already begun two projects - the first having an amazing and unexpected link to our Global Citizenship topic. Our Eco Club has been asked to design posters for the RAF Central Fund Feshiebridge Lodges in the Scottish Highlands! The posters are to remind the guests to turn off the lights and heating, and to recycle correctly. We are now at the stage of adding colour to our posters - there are a real variety of designs and they will hopefully look wonderful and be effective in the lodges.
Cut Your Carbon is our second project. It is an Eco-Schools campaign, challenging all children to discuss with their families and friends how to complete nine simple actions over the month of November, to try and reduce their carbon footprint by changing behaviours. From switching four baths to four showers, turning the heating down 1 degree for a week to planning a weekend with no leftover food, the challenges are achievable. Even so, our message is to do what you can and not to worry if you can't do them all - some action is better than no action. Our Year 6 Eco Councillors will be presenting an assembly to the school about the carbon challenge the first day back after half-term. We have held two practise sessions and are incorporating a bit of drama into the assembly - everybody's favourite!
A new thing this year is to end each session with a positive eco news story, so that we remember how many people, including children, are making a difference all around the world. Our last session's story was about the recent successful release of wildcat kittens into the Scottish highlands as part of a larger project to protect this endangered species. Ties in nicely to our Feshiebridge poster project!
14th July 2023
To celebrate a fabulous year, we held our annual end-of-year party! The changeable weather kept us indoors, but we were still able to harvest the carrots we'd grown - we just brought the pot inside. The carrots were teeny-tiny, but we shared them out, along with fresh lettuce and peas. Then we enjoyed biscuits and juice, chatting together about all of our activities over the year. We talked about those children who were moving on and whether there might be Eco Clubs in their new schools. Finally, several children shared their own eco actions - from carefully perusing all labels in the supermarket to avoid non-sustainable palm oil to adopting an endangered animal from a wildlife charity to planting a wildflower garden. Such great achievements!
We were also celebrating our Eco-School's Green Flag Award, second year in a row! A great end to our busy and fun year, making a difference with Eco Club!
7th July 2023
Our Year 4 Eco Signage Assembly took place first thing on Monday morning. Despite having time for only a few rehearsals, it went very well! The new signs were shown and the reasons why we should turn off lights and taps were explained. Then, because our earlier audit had shown that the wrong things were sometimes ending up in the classroom green recycling bins, we had a recycling demonstration. There was a selection of school items to be sorted into the correct bins by our Eco Councillors and members of the audience. This was a very useful visual way to show correct recycling. The assembly ended by showing our new Eco Code, a requirement of the Eco Schools programme. This was created with suggestions from all classes about ways that we can help look after our Earth. Many of the suggestions related to the activities we have done this year.
Tuesday was potato harvesting day! First we cut back the foliage and then tipped the two large potato pots into trays. Eager hands pulled apart compost to reveal a very decent harvest of new potatoes - two large bowls full. They were taken to the kitchen, along with the garlic we had grown. Our chef very kindly washed and cooked the potatoes ready for Wednesday lunch, when all Eco Club members were offered a potato or two, garlic butter optional. They were delicious! Several of us already grow potatoes at home - hopefully a few others will now be inspired to try as they've seen how easy it is to grow potatoes and garlic in containers.
30th June 2023
We were back to our usual busy schedule this week. With the Y4 assembly fast approaching, we held two practice sessions where we read through our scripts, fine-tuned our demonstrations, made changes, laughed and had time for only one complete run-through. We are ready (almost)!
The Big Battery Hunt tally sheets were collected from every classroom. During the month of June, 315 batteries were recycled, either at school or at other collection points - brilliant! That is 315 batteries that will now be broken down and the parts reused. Hopefully everyone will carry on recycling all used batteries - where sometimes recycling can be confusing, battery recycling is truly easy!
A biodiversity competition opportunity came our way this week. Local under 18s have been asked to plant a small pot of wildflowers (seeds provided), care for them and then bring the pot to the Ewelme Horticultural Show at the end of August, where it will be judged. We planted two pots and will choose the best for the show, after attaching hand-drawn colourful labels to the pots.
23rd June 2023
A busy week at school (Camo Day, etc) meant fewer Eco Club meetings took place this week. We did carry on putting our new signs up in most of the other classrooms - they are very eye-catching! Some of our very talented Year 6 girls completed the sign explaining our Gratitude Tree. It is a beautiful drawing of, appropriately enough, a tree and is now displayed in the library next to the Gratitude Tree.
The Year 4s have decided that they would like to do an assembly, inspired by the Y5 and Y6 assemblies. We secured a date (Monday 3rd July) and had our first planning session - lots of great ideas! The assembly will explain what the Eco Signage Working Party has been doing : first an audit, then sign design/printing and finally distribution to all areas of school. We will discuss the importance of turning off lights/taps and recycling correctly. There will definitely be some drama, demonstrations and audience participation!
16th June 2023
For a look at after-hours life in our gardens, this week we set footprint traps. A low tray filled with smoothed-down sand was the trap - the 'bait' a small dish of tinned dog food in the centre of the sand. In the mornings, we used a footprint key to help with identification.
Our results :
Year 3/4 garden - a cat and a hedgehog / food gone
Reception garden - a bird (or birds) / food still there
Year 1/2 garden - several birds / food still there
Our garden birds don't like dog food.
The Eco Signage Working Party had a brief discussion before distributing the new, beautifully designed signs. According to our audit, though many signs were missing, classrooms still had some signs. Do we keep the existing signs? Do we just have the new signs? It was agreed that we stop noticing signs that have been up for years - hopefully new signs will be noticed and the instructions followed! We will keep the old signs if they are in good condition and can swap them round again in the future. We then bedazzled about 1/3 of the school with our new signs. They were immediately noticed by children and a teacher just arriving back in their classroom! We will finish putting up the signs next week and hopefully fewer taps will be dripping and all lights will be switched off when not in use!
9th June 2023
We began our week with a second flower count, before the grass cutters marked the end of No Mow May in the Year 3/4 garden. Using our quadrats again, we looked at the same areas as in our first count. Not mowing for a month definitely made a difference : from 3 to 9
flower species and from 77 to 230 individual open flowers! Particularly lovely were the cheery Ox-eye daisies which were flourishing.
As the Year 5/6 garden hasn't been mown in many months (because of the building work), we are actually having a No Mow Season there - great for the pollinators!
For the rest of the week, we planted flowers! One group planted pots of colourful annuals - snapdragons, cosmos, marigolds - all appreciated by pollinators. We dotted them around in areas where most people walk - have you spotted any? Eager volunteers will keep the pots watered - so important in this recent hot, dry weather.
We also held the last session of the year with our younger Eco Representatives from Years 1, 2 and 3, helped by the Year 6 Eco Councillors. The large planters on the playground had been filled last spring, but only the hardy French lavender had survived the summer drought. Realising that we need to garden slightly differently from now on in our changing climate, we planted flowers which are drought-tolerant and pollinator-friendly. English lavender, perennial wallflower and Lamb's Ears were planted - Lamb's Ears are delightfully soft and furry, great fun to touch. Did you know : the wool carder bee scrapes off hairs from the leaves to line its nest! After the plants had been watered in, the younger representatives and Year 6s enjoyed eating lunch together in the hall.
26th May 2023
All the hard work paid off - our battery assembly was brilliant! The Year 5s did so well - knowing just what to do at the right time, speaking clearly and answering audience questions at the end. The Big Battery Hunt PowerPoint began by showing how batteries are made and what happens to them if they are thrown in a general bin and end up in landfill - they take 100 years to break down, leaching dangerous chemicals into the soil and waterways. But if batteries are recycled, all the components can be reused in many ways, including building skyscrapers and making fertiliser and new batteries. Everyone was encouraged to make a habit of recycling their old batteries and for the next month we'll be keeping a tally in each class. A really good suggestion came from a Year 6 Eco Club member during the assembly - use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones!
The Eco Signage Working Party met again and, in a burst of creativity, drew some outstanding signs! We decided that we'll use several different sign designs around the school which will hopefully be noticed more than just one design. And we couldn't possibly choose just one design anyway - they are all so good!
On the last day of term, we managed to finally attach the last of the shapes to our Grateful Tree in the library - it looks beautiful. There is a comfy chair right next to the tree, a perfect place to sit and read all of the lovely messages. Another busy week!
19th May 2023
This week was all about preparing for the Year 5 Big Battery Hunt assembly, so we put our other projects on hold. We had three practise sessions, carrying on with resilience through some tech problems. We feel ready for Monday morning, when we'll deliver the assembly!
For one of the sessions, we were joined by members of the Eco Signage Working Party, who were keen to carry on designing new signs to remind everyone to turn off lights and taps when not in use. First, we discussed what makes a good sign : an eye-catching, colourful and simple design with a very clear message and not too many words. Some really creative designs were produced!
12th May 2023
With the warmer weather, the potatoes are growing quickly, so our first job this week was to add compost to the pots, covering the stems and leaves. We'll do this once more, filling the pots right up to the top, giving lots of room for the potato tubers to grow and keeping them away from sunlight and therefore safe to eat.
Staying in the garden, we then carried out three flower counts. We'll repeat these at the end of No Mow May, to see if the biodiversity of our Year 3/4 lawn has improved. Using a metre-square quadrat frame made of bamboo, we analysed three areas of lawn randomly chosen by throwing a ball of wool over our shoulders! We identified three flower species : daisy and creeping buttercup were easy to name, but Dovesfoot Cranesbill took a bit more observation and discussion.
We also held another planning session for the Big Battery Hunt assembly, which we hope will be ready before half term.
5th May 2023
This week we put up No Mow May signs around the Year 3/4 garden, to let everyone know that we are taking part. We also took the first set of weekly photographs, to track how the lawn is changing. Then we planted Chantenay carrot seeds in a pot - they are a short, stubby variety which should grow quickly.
Our Grateful Tree in the library is now nearly finished, just a few more shapes to add!
Year 5 held a planning session for the Big Battery Hunt assembly. We looked at the Power Point (provided by Duracell, who run the campaign), assigned roles, made class recording sheets and discussed the running order. It will take another few sessions with a run-through in the hall before we are ready for the assembly. In the meantime, please save your batteries for recycling!
28th April 2023
It was lovely this week to meet all together, instead of in smaller groups on different days. In a change from our usual very active sessions, we sat and discussed current projects and exciting future plans.
We will be joining No Mow May, a campaign by the charity Plantlife, leaving the Year 3/4 garden unmowed for the month. This will allow different flowers to bloom, providing nectar and pollen for pollinators. We plan to do a plant species count to see what difference No Mow May has made.
Many of our Year 5 Eco Club members are keen to present an assembly about the Big Battery Hunt, an annual drive to encourage us all to recycle used batteries. More details to follow!
21st April 2023
This week we did some citizen science - we went on worm hunts and then submitted our data to the Soil Association. First we talked about why worms are so important for healthy soil and looked at pictures of the earthworms we might find.
On Thursday, it was sunny and dry - not good worm hunting weather. We did a worm dance, hoping the vibrations would sound like rain and bring worms to the surface. Also, we pre-soaked and covered a patch of grass, again hoping that the worms would react. Neither method worked! Turning over logs and digging in the strawberry bed finally brought us success : one common red and nine blue-grey worms, some quite young.
Friday dawned wet and the rain continued through the morning - perfect worm hunting conditions...or so we thought. We dug in the soil around the edge of the garden and found only one more worm than on Thursday - again just one common red and ten blue-greys. After a bit of observation, we returned the worms to where we'd found them.
A few of us chose to stay dry in the library, attaching more shapes to our Grateful Tree - it is starting to look lovely!
31st March 2023
This week we again dodged the rain to plant potatoes in large pots. These had been 'chitted' (sprouted) for several weeks beforehand to give them a headstart with growing. We planted low in the pots so that as the foliage grows, we can keep adding soil to give them plenty of room to produce tubers (the part of the potato plant that we eat). We also planted two varieties of peas - we are hoping that the tall variety will grow up and around an iron arch linking the two raised beds. The pea seedlings sown a few weeks ago and kept indoors were nearly ready to be planted out and we took a chance - fingers crossed that there won't be any more night frosts!
On a very rainy Friday, we continued work on our whole school project. The wooden tree in the library has, for the last few years, featured very lovely Remembrance poppies and COP 26 promise leaves with messages written by the children. We talked about refreshing it, and decided to make it a 'Grateful Tree.' A letter (using persuasive writing skills) was written and presented - our proposal was accepted! All children and adults (including kitchen, office and cleaning/maintenance staff) in the school were invited to write what they are grateful for on a coloured paper shape. These are now all in and we started to attach them to the tree - some will be stuck directly onto branches and some will be strung together on wool, to move gently like the branches of a willow tree. We will carry on with this after Easter, as we have about 200 shapes to attach!
24th March 2023
This week we took part in the annual 'Great Big School Clean' run by Keep Britain Tidy. Our Monday assembly on litter and the hazards it poses to wildlife revealed that we all know already how bad litter is! The council kindly loaned us litter pickers and high-viz vests which we used in our 10 sessions during the week, at times dodging the raindrops. Nearly all classes took part and we picked clean nearly all of the school grounds. Despite having quite clean grounds, we managed to fill two large bags with litter, due to the eagle-eyed searching of our pickers! Certain areas were litter hotspots, like along the fencelines and in the playground shrubs, due to the wind. Most commonly found were food wrappers - we discussed how easy it is to find a bin or take the wrapper home with you! We finished off our litter picking week by showing the two full bags in our next assembly and applauding our hard work!
17th March 2023
This week we have been making bug hotels using old plastic bottles and carefully choosing materials to suit different creatures:
- hollow plant stems for solitary bees
-sticks and dried leaves for beetles, woodlice, ladybirds and other bugs
- rolled up cardboard for lacewings
We used one material for each hotel - current research suggests this is best for the bugs!
Our Year 1,2 and 3 Eco Representatives joined us for one of the sessions, followed by lunch with the Year 6 children - pictures of this are displayed on our Eco Board in school.
We are continuing with our kindness-spreading project and with keeping our bird feeders stocked up. There has also been a lot of work behind the scenes on a whole school activity - more on that soon!
10th March 2023
This week saw the formation of the Eco Signage Working Party. We completed an audit of all classrooms, with clipboards and iPads, for picture-taking. We'll now refresh all signage and encourage careful recycling. After discussing the results of the audit, we posed the question: is it better to use laminated signs, which last longer but are non-recyclable, or just to use paper signs, which will need frequent replacing but are recyclable?
During our Friday session, we transplanted enough spider plant babies and lemon geranium cuttings to distribute one or 2 two pots to all of the classrooms and offices. This fits in with our School Grounds topic - we have a lot planned for outside, but inside also needs brightening up with plants!
24th February 2023
This week we worked a little on our secret kindness project but spent most of our time outdoors. We planted pansies and admired the bulbs planted in the autumn which are showing lots of green growth. One of the raised beds was very overgrown and we made great headway with weeding, even finding a few worms!
3rd March 2023
This week the Year 6 Eco Councillors met separately to discuss several projects and then split into sub-groups to use their persuasive letter-writing skills. We'll keep you posted on the outcomes...
For several months, a very keen Year 6 Councillor has been preparing an Eco Club assembly. She produced a very impressive Power Point presentation about this year's Eco Club topics and general eco tips. With the help of two other Year 6 Eco Councillors, she delivered the presentation to the entire school in Friday morning's assembly. It was very informative with great graphics and lots of audience participation. Well done!!
Finally, in today's session, we planted seeds, to get a bit of a headstart on the growing season. With school finishing in July, we have to plan carefully so that the vegetables and flowers are ready in time for us to enjoy! Sunflowers, cosmos and peas were all sown in pots which we will keep inside until the weather warms up a bit!
A busy week!
10th February 2023
The year so far:
We have 25 Eco Councillors from Years 4-6 who meet weekly. There are also 6 Eco Representatives from Years 1-3 who attend occasional meetings through the year. Our younger representatives are responsible for reminding their classes to turn off lights and taps, and to recycle correctly.
We began the year with 'Green Day' on 30th September as part of the Great Big Green Week. Children wore green to school, donated £1 to fund Eco Club activities, attended an assembly and participated in environment-themed class activities throughout the week.
Our next step was to choose three topics on which to focus this year : the children chose Biodiversity, School Grounds and Healthy Living.
In addition to activities related to these topics, we continue with our general eco activities :
* remind everyone at school to turn off lights and taps, close doors and recycle correctly.
* collect crisp packets, used ink cartridges, batteries and old plastic pens for recycling.
So far this year we have:
* held a brainstorming session to generate activity ideas.
* planted spring bulbs, including Muscari (great for pollinators).
* planted garlic.
* made Healthy Living Bingo sheets.
* re-purposed old jars as tea light holders and decorated them for Christmas.
* embarked upon a secret kindness-spreading project.
* kept the school bird feeders topped up.
* took part in the RSPB's Big School Birdwatch.
* assessed the native hedge that we planted last March, replacing trees that died in last summer's heat.