School Activity Plans

Autumn seed collection and planting
Reception Activity                     Autumn Term              2 hour activity

Before the activity starts the tree nursery should be weeded and the soil made suitable for planting.

Equipment list:

Certificates         First Aid         mobile phone          high vis. jackets

Parents leaflet          risk assessments             trowels            gloves

Name pendants        nut/ seed/ berry collection

Water and bowl        Collecting bags
In the classroom

Greet the class and introduce Blyth Woods. Welcome and thank parents for joining the class. Explain that autumn is the time of year when trees make nuts, seeds, berries and fruit. Show examples and explain what we will collect and that we will plant that seed/ nut in the school tree nursery and look after it so that it grows into a new tree. Help children get ready for going outside and give out name pendants so that individuals can be referred to by name. Give new parents a leaflet about the work of Blyth Woods.

School grounds and beyond

Give out paper or cloth bags for the collection of acorns and sweet chestnuts. Explain staying together and what makes a good specimen to collect (not damaged or diseased). Acorns are available form trees in playing field behind the school grounds but sweet chestnuts are from tree in Narrow Way. If collecting from Narrow Way children should wear high visibility jackets and be instructed to walk in pairs , in line looking and listening for traffic. Adults should be given responsibility to stand in the road and monitor children crossing. (See risk assessment for additional precautions)

Return to school tree nursery and explain floating and sinking procedure to find acorns that are suitable for planting. Acorns placed individually in a bowl of water and if they float on surface discard them, air has entered the seed through damage. Seed that sinks can be planted.

Demonstrate planting acorns or chestnuts in lines across the appropriate bed. (The tree nursery has four beds and seed is planted in rotation one bed per year.)
Year 2                Year 1

Year 3                 Year 4

Plant 10 cm apart


Children are offered protective gloves and a trowel to plant. Each child should plant at least one acorn or nut. If the group is too big to plant all at the same time , halve the group and play the Squirrel Game or Feely Bag game with half that are not planting.

Squirrel Game for Reception ( Have a collection of acorns)

In a circle show photos of squirrels and describe them with help from the children. Outline the lifestyle of squirrels, climbing trees, collecting nuts, making drays, hibernating, scampering. All pretend to be squirrels. All take an acorn and hide it somewhere nearby in the playground for later. Return to the circle. Pretend to sleep, visit other squirrels. Now find the acorn that was hidden and return with it to the circle. In pairs one squirrel hides acorn , quickly because it is raining and partner watches. When squirrel returns to the circle the partner tries to find the hidden acorn. Repeat swapping roles. Children can develop the game in pairs if time eg. two acorns hidden at a time.

Feely Bag Game for Reception ( Have a collection of nuts ,hazel, chestnut, conker, acorn. Walnut)

In a circle a cloth bag with one nut inside is circulated by an adult . When all have felt the nut they go to the collection and select the type of nut they think they felt. Compare discuss and describe the feel. Name the nut. Repeat. Circulate two bags so there are two nuts to collect. Children can develop own feely bag game in three’s.

Once planting is finished return to classroom and wash hands.

On the carpet ask children ‘What did we do today?’ to recap on main points of activity. ‘What do we expect to happen in the tree nursery?’ Saplings to grow. ‘What do you need to do?’ Care for the trees by weeding and watering. Each child is given a planting certificate to take home and tell families about.

Bad weather option –

The two games can be played in the classroom to reduce time outside

Outcomes for:    Autumn seed collection and planting                                Reception Activity

Awareness of seasons
Know oak trees grow from acorns
Identify floating and sinking
Know that not every seed/ nut will germinate
Different trees have different seeds, nuts, berries and fruit

Weeding and Mulching
Year 1 and 2 Activity               Summer Term            2 hour activity
Equipment list:

Watering cans and access to tap                                   bin liner of grass cuttings

Trowels                                                                               Leaf hunt sheets

Gardening gloves                                                             Can you find this tree? sheets

Wax crayons                                                                      pencils

Clipboards                                                                          scissors

Parent leaflets                                                                   name pendants

Risk assessment                                                               paper

water                                                                                  tree name cards


In the classroom

Greet the class and introduce Blyth Woods. Welcome and thank parents for joining the class. Ask class if they remember planting in the school tree nursery. Short revision. What has happened in tree nursery since then? What do trees need in order to grow well? ( light and water) Today we are going to do some weeding, what are weeds? (plants growing in the wrong place) Why do we need to pull out the weeds? (weeds are taking water and light away from trees) What is mulch? Why are we going to spread grass cuttings around the trees? ( to stop weeds growing up by blocking the light from them and to keep water in the soil for the trees) Explain that it is important to be able to identify plants so that we remove the right plant. How can we tell them apart? ( leaf shape, bark/ stem, size, plant shape)

At the tree nursery

Demonstrate weeding, identification, care of saplings and how not to disturb them. Class wear gloves and weed with trowels. Water the saplings. Demonstrate spreading the mulch and class apply a thick mulch around the saplings.

Follow on activity

In the school ground and in the playing field beyond, help the children to identify different trees by their leaf shape. What makes one leaf different from another? Using the Leaf Hunt laminated sheets from Woodland Trust Nature Detectives with sticky spots to stick on when they find a particular tree. Children can work in pairs and collect as many stickers as possible. There are at least eleven trees that can easily be found.

An alternating follow on activity is used so that children in this class for two years do not repeat the same activity. In the school ground help the children to identify different trees by their leaf shape, bark pattern and overall shape and size . What makes one tree different from another? In groups of three ask children to fill in a ‘Can you find this tree?’ sheet to put together with other sheets to make a booklet on the school trees for others to look at. One child makes a bark rubbing, one child draws around a leaf and another draws the whole tree. The units are stuck on to the base sheet and the tree name added. Come together to compare sheets. Sheets are stapled together with a title page to make a booklet or sheets are laminated to share with others.

If the class is large they can be divided into two groups and half weed while the others do the follow on activity and then swap.

Trees in the school grounds – hawthorn, sycamore, plum, apple, medlar, mulberry, rowan and cherry.

Outcomes for:    Weeding and Mulching             Year 1 and 2 Activity

Know that trees need water and light in order to grow well
Understand that the saplings will grow better because of the children’s efforts
Know that features such as leaf shape, bark pattern, tree shape can be used to identify one tree from another
Know why it is important to be able to distinguish trees and plants
Be able to identify trees in the school grounds
Appreciate the value of working in a group where individuals make a contribution to a group piece of work and the result benefits from the united effort

Tracks and Trails or Bug Hotels
Year 3 and 4 Activity       Spring Term        2 hour activity
Tracks and Trails equipment list-

First aid/ mobile phone                        Tracks hunt sheet Woodland Trust Nature Detectives

Risk assessments                      British Mammals tracks and signs FSC/ The Mammal Society

Examples of evidence like eaten hazel nut shells, stripped fir cones, feathers, bones, snail shells

What clues did you find? Sheet

In the classroom

Greet the class and introduce Blyth Woods. Welcome and thank parents for joining the class. Explain that you want the class to be detectives and find out which creatures use woodland. What ideas do they have?( rabbits, deer, fox, insects, birds, bats, frogs, mice…..) What do they think these creatures use the wood for?( shelter, routeways, hunting, food, ) So what evidence can we look for? ( nibbled leaves, feathers, poo, nests, tunnels, tracks…..) Show examples of evidence.

Walk to Vicarage Grove. Remind children of what sort of evidence they are looking for. Walk through Vicarage Grove on footpath and collect ideas of evidence. Share ideas . Enter Grove Piece and compare the woods as the group walk around the rides. Why is there less evidence of creatures? Why are there more creatures in Vicarage Grove?Discuss food chains and ecosystems. One day the oaks will have lots of leaves that caterpillars like to eat. Small birds like to eat caterpillars so they will visit more and some large birds like to eat the small birds and so the food chain gets longer and the ecosystem gets richer. Can you think of other food chains that might develop? (Woodland plants eaten by rabbits, rabbits eaten by foxes) Ask children to make a small piece of environmental art as evidence that they have visited Grove Piece today. Working in pairs or individually, using materials found like sticks, leaves, stones, seeds, mud,( try not to use living plants) create a beautiful sign to leave behind. ( ideas based on nests, eggs, tracks, patterns and shapes found in the wood) Photograph environmental art pieces as they are completed. Challenge the children to return with families to view their artworks.

This activity has also been run in Merton Wood, the first part of the activity is the same ie. looking for evidence of creatures. Then the more mature woodland allowed the class to divide into two groups. Each group laid a trail around the wood using stick arrows in a design specific to their group . The groups then try to follow the other group’s trail. The groups can also leave markers where there is evidence of creatures for the other group to try to collect. Share evidence all together when everyone returns.

The Tracks and Trails activity is alternated with the Bug Hotel activity so that a child in this class for two years has two different ecosystem activities.

Bug Hotels

Bug Hotels equipment list-

Cardboard tubes from carpet rolls about 30cm long one for each child

Electric drills                                                   small bow saws

Work mate                                                       loppers

Mallet                                                               4 timber posts 1.5m long

‘Guests at the Bug Hotel’ booklets                pencils

Collection of hollow stems like hog weed but not giant hogweed

In the classroom

Greet the class and introduce Blyth Woods. Welcome and thank parents for joining the class. Why is woodland so important? (provides food and shelter for creatures such as birds, mammals, amphibians and insects) Woodland helps many food chains,(plants, mice, owls) Why are insects and mini-beasts so important?( food for birds and mammals, pollinating flowers so that seed is set, breaking down dead wood and leaves to fertilise the soil) Many useful bugs like to live in or near dead wood so it is important to leave dead wood laying around for them . Demonstrate how to make individual bug hotels in the card tubes using hollow stems and sticks. Explain these are to take home and place in the garden or nearby wild area. Half the group work on individual bug hotels while other half makes a large bug hotel to leave in the wood.

4 posts are hammered in to contain the logs and sticks. Children drill holes in logs and saw lengths of wood to stack. All use of tools is closely supervised by adults one to one with the children. Create a pile of wood with spaces for creatures to hide, hunt, shelter and breed in. Top with leaves and dead grass. The groups rotate to try both constructions.

Mini-beasts Orienteering game

Each child has a booklet to complete and the information is found on cards hidden around the wood. The information is about creatures that might use the bug hotel and their reasons for being there eg. centipede – ‘I will come here to hunt’. Children are encouraged to take their booklets home and tell their families about what they have learnt.

Outcomes for Tracks and Trails or Bug Hotels          Year 3 and 4 Activity         Spring Term

Begin to understand what is meant by an ecosystem
Be able to give an example of a food chain
Understand we can tell creatures visit the wood by searching for evidence
Know that creatures can be identified by a range of characteristics such as their tracks, nests, feathers, bones, droppings etc.
Know that dead wood is an important part of the woodland environment
Be able to say why insects are an important part of the woodland ecosystem
Show respect for each other’s work

Tree Planting
Year 5 and 6 Activity                 Autumn Term          2 hour activity
Equipment list –

Trees                                                     tree guards

Stakes or canes                                      straw

Spades                                                   gardening gloves

First Aid/ mobile phone                        risk assessment

Water                                                    Winter Twig sheets Woodland Trust Nature Detectives

Before the activity loosen the saplings in the tree nursery but leave them heeled in.

In the classroom

Greet the class and introduce Blyth Woods. Welcome and thank parents for joining the class. Explain to class that their task is to take trees from the tree nursery in school and plant them in Grove Piece, the community wood. Explain why it is a responsible job (planting on behalf of the school, saplings have been growing for three years at least). Explain that roots can be damaged by careless handling and drying out in the wind or sun so keep roots covered at all times. Ask children to work in groups of three, each group to carry a sapling or saplings in a protective bag from nursery in school to Grove Piece.

At Grove Piece

Planting is demonstrated where one child holds the bag with a tree inside, one child carries the spade and digs a hole or makes a slit, a handful of disintegrating leaf mould from Vicarage Grove can be incorporated in the planting to add micro – organisms that promote growth. The third child puts the tree guard in place with a cane or stake. Rotate jobs if there are several trees to plant. Explain why tree guards are used and why a thick mulch of straw is laid around the tree. If there is time use the winter twig identification sheets to discover which trees are present in the surrounding hedges. Explain or ask children to explain how the twigs differ and how a particular tree has a set pattern and set of characteristics. Invite the children to return to Grove Piece with their families to show them their planting. Ask children ‘to keep an eye’ on the trees and report any problems to school or us. Discussion depending on weather and time available. What have you learnt from working with Blyth Woods about woodlands, germination, saplings, identifying different trees, food chains, ecosystems, planting ? Will you return to the wood? What for?

Outcomes for:     Tree Planting          Year 5 and 6 Activity                   Autumn Term

Know how to plant a sapling
Know how to protect young trees
Know how to help young trees grow well
Work as a team