All About Animals: Primary Teachers: Lesson Plan 5: A Six-Week Project: The Wild Place

How does this fit into the Framework? Pupils should be taught to take responsibility; feel positive about themselves; participate; make real choices and decisions; meet and talk with people; find information and advice.

Teachers’ Note: Each part of this six-week project is laid out for you to follow. You will need to take responsibility for finding a suitable area (it should be in a quiet area – not in the middle of the playground – if you are serious about attracting wildlife!) and clearing the idea with your Head. You may need to put together some possible costings for your Head, but these can be kept to a minimum. You will need to take overall responsibility for the project while giving your pupils as much responsibility as you feel they are capable of handling.

Finally, if you decide to incorporate this project into your Citizenship lessons, please do let us know how you get on and send any photos to us!

This is a six-week project to devise and establish a Wild Place in the school grounds. This is to be a place where wildlife can live or visit. As the teacher, you will obviously need to make arrangements so that an area can be set aside for this Wild Place. You don’t need a huge area and it doesn’t necessarily have to be lush and green already. The point of this project is to get your pupils to discover how they can help wildlife in any location.

Week 1: Discussion and Research

Tell the class about the project and let them know where the Wild Place will be. Hold a classroom discussion about why it is important to create a natural habitat for wildlife and set out the agenda for work over the next six weeks.

For homework, ask pupils to research what kinds of things would help to attract wildlife. Ask them to think about bird tables, feeders and boxes; different types of flowers, plants and trees; a water supply (flowing or still); places for animals to live (logs, long grasses, underneath paving slabs) and come back ready to discuss their plans.

Ask them to think about specific animals, insects and birds that they would like to see visit the wild place and find out how these creatures might best be attracted to it.

Week 2: Visit the Site

Take the class to see the site. They should take note pads and pencils and draw a sketch of the site, noting existing features that can be utilised and those that may need to be removed.

Back in the classroom, draw an outline of the area on the board and ask for input as to how the area should be changed to create a great Wild Place. Try to encourage participation from all class members at this stage and make sure that all suggestions are listened to and considered.

When each suggestion is agreed upon, it can be incorporated into the plan on the board, which can be progressively revised as the suggestions come in. By the end of the session, the class will have a ‘working plan’ that can be taken to the next stage.

Let the pupils know that they can re-visit the site at other times for further observations.

Week 3: Consult with Community

Break the class down into four groups:

1. Group A: Meeting with the Head. This group is to put their ‘working plan’ to the Head and other interested teachers and ask them for their opinions. Notes must be taken at this meeting to ensure that any suggestions and requests are taken on board. Pupils must prepare for the meeting and be ready to explain what work is involved and why each idea has been incorporated into the plan. The meeting could take place at the Wild Place.

2. Group B: Presenting an Assembly This group must present an assembly to the school (or part of the school) to explain about the Wild Place and how the class plans to make this area attractive to wildlife. They must explain each feature that they plan to incorporate. At the end, the group will tell the assembly that plans of the Wild Place will be pinned up on notice boards around the school and that if other pupils have any suggestions, they should place them in a Suggestions Box within one week.

3. Group C: Facilitating Feedback This group is responsible for drawing up plans of the Wild Place and putting them up around the school. They must include a request for suggestions with the plans and a note saying where the Suggestions Box is located and that pupils only have one week to make those suggestions. At the end of the week, they are to empty the suggestions box and consider any suggestions made.

4. Group D: Appealing for Practical Help This group needs to devise ways of finding practical help. They will need guidance and practical help from the teacher in how to accomplish this. They might want to try the following: put up a Wish List at school appealing for specific materials; contact the local paper with an appeal; ask the local garden centre to donate flower seeds, soil or trees; ask in the assembly whether anyone’s father is a builder and may be able to donate stepping stones or other useful materials; contact the RSPB about donating bird boxes; ask parents to help build bird tables; put up adverts in the area asking for donated items such as bird baths or water bowls; ask a local pet supplies store to donate bird seed or nuts; ask the technology department if they are able to make any wooden structures that might be needed; maybe a local building firm would agree to dig and concrete a shallow pond, etc.

Week 5: Finalise Plans

This week, each group will come back and report their progress.

Group A should explain what happened at the meeting with the Head and other teachers. They must put forward the suggestions they received and, if there were any ‘demands’, then these must be incorporated into the plan.

Groups B and C should go through the Suggestions Box and present the suggestions to the class.

The whole group should then agree upon a Final Plan incorporating any feedback and draw it up.

Finally, Group D should draw up a list of all the materials they need and tick off those that have been donated or acquired.

During this week, the teacher may be needed to ‘track down’ any final materials not covered by donations. Remember, useful materials for making a Wild Place such as a pile of logs that could be used by insects and small animals for nesting can simply be picked up from the ground. You will also need to bring tools such as hammers, nails, etc.

Week 6: Creating the Wild Place

This is the culmination of the project. In this week, the plan will be put into practice and a Wild Place created in the school grounds.

All the materials should be gathered together and one pupil designated as the Plan Keeper. This person is responsible for making sure that the plan is adhered to as much as possible.

It is up to the teacher to split the group into working parties to complete each project and be on site to direct and offer help where needed. Of course, you can spend longer than one week creating the Wild Place if you need more time.

Afterwards …

Once the Wild Place has been created, the pupils should be set a written exercise to document their own involvement in the creation of the area. They should explain how they contributed to the project and how they expect the Wild Place to prosper over coming years.

Pupils should be encouraged to keep an eye on the Wild Place as time goes by and make sure that there is water and feed available for any wild animals who do visit or live there. A separate project to document the wildlife could then be initiated.