The cold weather this Spring has meant that sowings are off to a slow start, in fact ‘up north' soil temperatures only reached 4 degrees Celsius last week so we had to postpone our planned outdoor sowings activity. We have begun warming the soil and are carrying out an experiment to monitor what effect placing plastic on the beds has. We are recording the temperature in 2 beds (daily), one bed is covered with polythene and one has been left exposed to the elements. I am curious to see how much difference it makes as I am a big believer in warming the soil.
As the weather was fantastic and the children were tiring of indoor seed sowing we decided to carry out some spotter sheet activities in the school grounds. The spotter sheets used were downloaded from the Nature Detectives and we used them to look for and record seasonal changes. You can even create your own spotter sheets with the children, very useful if you have limited habitats to explore in your school grounds as the sheets can be tailored to suit what you are likely to find. The Field Studies Council also produce some excellent resources and laminated identification sheets.
An extension to this activity is to record the date that you see an item, also called Phenology. Year after year these dates will provide a record of seasonal changes in your area and can be used to monitor how our wildlife is responding to climate change. An excellent interactive resource to look at is Climate Change in your Garden.
If you work with secondary schools and would like to record your phenological findings online regsister at Natures Calendar.
Take part in a seasonal project:
Beagle Tree Survey is an online biodiversity project open to all schools in Europe launched on 15th February 2010. The aim is to select a tree and monitor its changes over the year. Then use the Beagle website to report dates of flowering, leaf burst and other phenological events. You can also upload photos to the web site and compare with other schools in the project. Find teaching resources and more specific guides on how to how to carry out and report your results online.
Plantlife Bee Scene 2010. Survey aimed at primary teachers and environmental education coordinators. Take your class out to a local park, field or any other natural space and complete the simple survey between April and July 2010. The survey can be done in an hour or along with the education pack can form a fieldwork or activity day. Once you have completed the survey head back to the classroom and help plant a virtual meadow online to link your findings with hundreds of others across the country.