My favourite project at school has been the Woodland Project. We’re very lucky where I work in Cumbria because the school grounds are populated by over one hundred trees consisting of seventeen different species. Within a two mile hike, we can also get to Beckmickle Ing which is a wood overseen by the Woodland Trust. It has the River Kent running by it, shallow enough in places where stream dipping can take place.
Back in 2009, I began planning a cross-curricular topic based on native trees, whereby my class of upper key stage two pupils could develop their knowledge of local species, improve their understanding about conservation and other skills associated with such woodland activities. The children identified different trees, measured them using techniques in geometry, became familiar with wildlife in woodlands, explored creative responses to trees (including writing poetry) and grew saplings which we then planted out in the school grounds or the field behind my house.
At this time, we were also involved in international activities with partner schools abroad. One of these schools was Eugene Field Elementary in Hannibal Missouri where their teacher, Terry Smith, had introduced us to international chess competitions and the Global Monster Project. Terry visited Cumbria and was interviewed by the children in Class 4, who showed him the work they’d done in the Woodland Project. After helping with the planting of a few oaks, we talked about the possibility of doing something similar with his own kids in the 5th grade. This idea grew and became part of our bid to gain the International School Award set up by the British Council and Global Gateway.
In the summer of 2010, I spent ten brilliant days in the US, working with Terry and the children in SmithClass on very similar activities to those we’d covered at my school. The following photographs give you some idea of the work we’ve done during the woodland projects since its inception at that time …