The big bug hotel build at USW

Year 2 worked like little workbees this afternoon to build a 5* luxury bed and breakfast for the bugs of Newport city . They really enjoyed the activity, building it from pallets and recycled materials ,e.g.  plant pots , milk cartons, sticks, toilet rolls, leaves, straw, to name a few.

There are many links that can be made to EY learning and social skill development was something that was identified in using it as a project task with the children , where everyone has a job .

Getting children to connect with the very basics of nature , the beginnings of the  food chain and learning to care for living things is the start of handing on the stewardship of the planet.

Children will monitor the bug hotel and learn to identify the different bugs that live there …a great starting point. Mangnifiers at the ready! ….big bug hunters are ready to get to work .

The build begins – pallets in place
Layering it up and using recycled materials for stuffing


Busy at work….
Cutting tops and bottoms off bottles and stuffing it with straw .. cosy
‘Bug & Breakfast ‘ in Newport City @GWT

Finding Ferns and feeling our way …

900E8F0F-5781-4E64-95C1-8FC0E279B9DEFollowing on with our Lost Words theme, year 2 took the Lost word ‘Fern’ and experimented with a range of activities that could be used with children in practice. They did some fern bashing between two pieces of cloth – so the fern juice imprinted it’s lovley pattern – these can be used to make cards, collages and art displays.

Students valued the kinaesthetic engagement and thought children would really love the physical nature of the task, particularly boys.  !  Drawing ferns, feeling their shape and pressing them into clay to make imprints was a lovely sensory experience and some felt it calming, as well as creative, but most of all they thought ‘ferns’ were prehistoric and would be fabulous used in dinosaur 🦕 themed work too.

I do believe I witnessed a connection between my students and the ancient Fern plant of this planet , with its rich story to tell and perhaps a hope that we will care for it for a few more years yet!

Heightening the senses and reclaiming ‘Lost words’; year 2 get their hands dirty.

Sensory learning opportunities were at the forefront of the yr 2 Early Years @USWDeptEd class this week. Engaging all of our senses and having a hands on experience , planting spring bulbs , herbs and some fruit bushes allowed Year 2 to be immersed in their learning through a full sensory experience.

Gwent Wildlife Trust @gwentwildlifetrust worked in partnership with us as we planned the planting using recyclable resources so we could make our city campus attractive to wildlife and increase biodiversity . It’s all part of the ‘my wild Newport’ project @mywildnewport.

It was a learning curve in some ways for everyone as I realised that many students had never planted bulbs before, so they were completely new to this experience. After a brief explanation about planting, pollination and looking after our natural spaces , students chose what they wanted to plant and where they’d like to plant them. Learning the names of the flowers and herbs was a language activity in itself, as well as being able to identify differnt plants. It struck me how so many students didn’t use names of flowers or plants In their everyday language so much so, they were not sure how to spell words like daffodil ‘f’ or two? Or hyacinth… And not being able to recognise a snow drop, because one student had never seen one before …

This reinforced the work we are doing around  ‘The Lost Words’ .  Removing words such as ‘conker’ and ‘otter’ to name a few , from the English dictionary is so very alarming. The Lost Words (MacFarlane & Morris, 2017) #thelostwords , illustrates this problem (very beautifully) but why are these words not being used ? Is it because adults no longer talk to children about things in nature ? Is it because they don’t know the names of things in nature so they are not confident to talk about it ? perhaps they don’t know what a blue tit or a snowdrop  looks like, so it’s not pointed out . For most, knowledge of the world comes through sight, yet we look with unseeing eyes; so perhaps we can open our eyes by asking “what if I had never seen this before ?” Or … “what if I knew I would never see it again?” We need to inspire the ‘awe and wonder’ in us all … and the discovery of the beautiful peacock butterfly certainly did that !


Students were inspired by their creative planting ideas and could see how transferable this would be into their practice – which would embrace the development of rich language, numeracy and knowledge and understanding of the world . It’s a delight when the simple things bring knowledge and joy ! ❤️🐝

At #profspeak18 event October 2018: Educating our children about nature and getting children outside…’s a state of emergency!

It was really good to hear Sue Williams from @naturalresouceswales (NRW) present a range of facts, stats and data on the benefits to  children when they are given the Opportunity to get outside, as well as challenges that prevent children from engaging in the outdoors; thus contributing to many health and wellbeing issues that manifest in their daily lives as a consequence. Likeminded people from diverse backgrounds were encouraged to hear the message from NRW in terms of the importance  that education has to play in ensuring these opportunities are provided to ALL children and how a new progressive, holistic curriculum could be so powerful in supporting this approach. 

Iolo Williams @IoloWilliams2 was also inspiring in sharing with us where his passion from nature had originated and the stories of him and his ‘Taid’ (Grandpa) going out walking, on adventures, looking for nests and identifying birds, which developed Iolo’s sense of ‘awe and wonder’ and his love for nature.

As Rachel Carson (1965) said ‘ if a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs companionship of at least one adult who can share it ….’ . These stories emphasised how children today are becoming more disconnected from nature and as such educators need to feel confident in inspiring children about nature, what lives out there and what things are called; how are we to care for something if we don’t know it’s name?

Again the message was embedded in the importance of education and although Iolo explained he did not really enjoy school, he recognises that it is so critical in today’s society for children to access opportunities to Outdoor learning, which for some children will only ever be possilbe in a safe learning environment .

Kirsty Williams appeared to support these messages from a WG view, so as practitioners we ask ‘Can the new Welsh curriculum offer this learning opportunity for all children in Wales ?’ ….. We do hope that it will allow practitioners to engage a creative approach to flourish , to have courage to try a pepdagogy that they perhaps need some support or training to implement, but to be confident that the curriculum wholly supports Outdoor pedagogies and recognises it as a truly valuable learning tool for children. There is great power in holistically developing children where language, creativity and the arts , physical development, science and understanding how the world works, can be embraced together and in the outdoors, allowing children to reconnect with nature and learn the names of living things that need to be cared for .

If we don’t teach children to care for their world … Who will? 

Carson. R. (1965). The sense of wonder. New York: Harper and Row publishers

The Lost Words



What an inspiration to be using the book ‘The Lost Words’ (MacFarlane & Morris, 2017) as part of year 2 assessment this year. How can such rich vocabulary be disappearing from use ?

‘Conker’, ‘bluebell’, ‘Otter’ and ‘Dandelion’ are all amazing living things ….. why does someone think that we don’t need to use these names anymore ? We are inspired and encouraged by this truly amazing book to help practitioners bring these words  into their teaching and year 2 EY students will be developing some themes and teaching plans to help get these amazing words like these into the mouths and minds of our children. …  Literacy Lives  in Nature.!!


Mud play..leads to storytelling

EY students got muddy and collected natural resources from around our small outdoor space at Newport . Having the theme ‘munchkins and trolls’ they created their own mud munchkins. Creating the right consistency of mud was the first challenge and where to position their munchkin was important to them. Giving their munchkins a name was key, as this suddenly brought them to ‘life’ and suddenly the students began to think about more personal requirements of their munchkin. They considered their munchkins and trolls likes, dislikes, preferred food source and his / her purpose … protector, guardian, trickster. ??? This information was discussed in their small groups as they created their munchkins & trolls and through their dialogue a story started to develop.

Once the munchkins were created, each small group told their Munchkin story to one another. The stories were told with excitement, interest and real enthusiasm, far more than had been previously observed when students had practiced reading storybooks. Connection to the story was important and their active learning had created a story they believed. It was a joy to see and hear ..

Students are able to take these ideas into practice and provide children with experiential, hands on, active and multi sensory approaches that supports children’s learning across the areas of learning in the Foundation Phase.

How refreshing to see our EY students  ‘wallow in their play’ , follow their own interests and construct new knowledge with one another ….. making learning memorable. Toddler or undergraduate, Froebel was right… ‘play is the engine room to learning’.