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"Save our woods!"

Date: 28th Oct 2017 @ 1:18pm

Our school is very lucky to have an area like the mini woods where all chidren get an opportunity to learn in an outdoor environment. After enjoying a lot of learning in the woods, Year 1 faced an interesting dilemma...

What if our mini woods were to be chopped down?

During the previous weeks, the children had spent a great deal of time in the woods and had been learning to identify different trees and also had English and Maths sessions outdoors. They had helped to organise and run a 'tree party' to raise money for The Woodland Trust and had shared the environment with their parents. This meant that a lot of the children had built up an attachment to the area. We wanted to explore how the children would feel when faced with a difficult problem. We went on to imagine that we had received a letter that would certainly get us thinking and taking action!

When faced with the letter and map from 'the Council,'  the children discovered plans that suggested the mini woods were to be chopped down to make space for a bigger car park. We were faced with shouts of

"No, you can't do that!"

"That's a rubbish idea!"

Understandably the children were angry! Although they knew it was an imaginary scenario, they had completely bought into the 'game', especially when 'the councillors' arrived.

The children had to learn to control their emotions and work together to discuss their ideas and try to come up with solutions. They had to develop their arguments. This was really interesting and the children began to consider the impact on not just themselves, but the school, the wider community and on nature. The children were appalled at the thought of the animals and birds losing their homes. Our reading texts for the half term had focused on squirrels and woodland animals and we had been lucky enough to have a visit from our resident 'Scaredy Squirrel' when out in the woods. This experience had developed their attachment and empathy for the animals and the environment they live in.

Some children began to consider the other side of the argument. One child said they thought it was a good idea to have a bigger car park as "my Mum can never get a space." This encouraged us to weigh up both sides of the argument and led to us conduct a transport survey. We discovered that the majority of children travel to school by car. The children thought about how a bigger car park would be safer and meant that they might not be late for school. We began to think about other modes of transport and how we could consider coming to school a different way. Some children are now proudly telling us that they walked to school or came on their bikes.

The children decided that to solve the problem we couldn't just act on our own. They came up with amazing ideas about who we could get to help us - the School Council, Year 6....even the Prime Minister! The children wrote questions and interviewed members of our school community and this helped us to develop our argument and sense of team work. They also consdered how we could act - write letters, put posters up (in McDonalds and the local pub!), tell the newspapers and Twitter. One playtime, the children linked up arms and chanted "save our woods!" 

The children have displayed such a level of passion for this imaginary scenario and have shown empathy, team work as well as having to control some very strong emotions! They have been reading and writing and have developed their oracy, maths and geography skills. But most importantly they have become invested and cared deeply about something and learnt to consider an opposing view.

Yesterday the children used iPads to interview the squirrel from our woods and we hope that you can see and hear their engagement and passion in the videos. 

We can't wait to see where this learning can take us after half term. 

Thank you for your support

The Year One Team

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