Into the Wood with Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs had an amazing afternoon in the woods on Euston Estate. The children hunted for minibeasts in the environment and found that there were many different species on their own doorstep! Mr Hawthorne took the children for a stroll around the woods to look for dangers (high and low), to find out about how the weather can change the woodland and to find clues that a whole host of animals have been in the woods where we walked. We found feathers and a skull and came up with our own story about what had happened to the pigeon - it wasn't a pleasant ending. Of course, there was time for marshmallows and a play. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves :-)
Otter Class at Burnt Hall Plantation
Otter Class went to a fascinating corner of the Euston Estate in Fakenham Magna: a very old and interesting field called Burnt Hall Plantation. We went there for a variety of learning: science, geography, history and literacy. The River Blackbourne meanders through the middle of the field, where an ancient roadway crosses the river at a ford. Next to the river stands an impressive and ancient earthwork, dating back thousands of years, and the field is full of interesting and mysterious humps and bumps for investigation and reflection.
Before we went, Otter Class were shown some aerial photographs of the site and discussed the activities we were to do: a flow-rate survey; a river-corridor survey; and a presentation and tour of the site's history by Edward Wortley, Euston Estate's archivist.
The primary focus of the flow-rate and river-corridor surveys was to enhance our understanding of rivers and habitats in the local area. Mrs Nicholas ran the flow-rate survey in two locations on the river to measure, record and, eventually, compare the speed of the river and explore the effects this has on the landscape and the way it is used. The river-corridor survey was to map the field and also identify and explore several old river channels in the floodplain - seeing how the river exists within its floodplain, but migrates and redirects over the centuries, affecting the way the land is used by the local population.
As well as the geography and science focus of the river-corridor survey, we also used it to explore and discuss the human features in the field - most notably the ring-work; the road-way; the ford; and possible earthworks surrounding an outer enclosure or bailey of the medieval fortification. We discussed what the motivations may have been for our ancestors using the landscape in the ways they did, and related it directly to our topic work about the changing power of monarchs over time: the Norman Conquest and subjugation of Anglo-Saxon England - their vast castle building program after 1066 to dominate and control the landscape and its people.
It was an excellent morning, begun by a tractor ride to the site and a presentation within the earthworks by Edward Wortley. The children worked really hard and brought lots of ideas and learning back to the classroom. The data from the flow-rate surveys was processed during mathematics, including calculating mean averages and refining our data handling skills and understanding. The children used the site and its specific local history elements to scaffold a narrative set around the time of the Norman Conquest, producing some extended writing full of detailed vocabulary and pertinent ideas.
Edward Wortley followed up his presentation at the site, when he visited us again a few days later in school, bringing a fascinating selection of archaeological artifacts from the local area to further deepen and enhance our learning and understanding of our local history going back many hundreds, indeed thousands, of years.
We are returning to the site in May to repeat the surveys during a different season, and hopefully, conditions permitting, conduct a river-dipping survey to find out what species are living in the river.
Sprayer at Barnham
This week, we were lucky enough to have a visit from a sprayer as part of the 'Tractors in Schools' scheme with Suffolk Agricultural Association. The children had the chance to ask Pete lots of questions about how the sprayer is used on Euston Estate and Hedgehogs were particularly fascinated with how big the wheels were! We even got the chance to consolidate our learning on light and shadows. Thank you, Pete
Habitats - January
We went out to the forest this week to continue our learning on habitats. Matthew Hawthorne helped us to find lots of different habitats, from tiny insects up to red deer. We explored the woodland and finished with a story by the fire. Back in the classroom, the children showed a really good understanding of the animals that were in the habitats around us.