Outdoor Learning in Leeds

‘Learning outdoors creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning.’ Outdoor Classroom Day website

Outdoor Classroom Day came early to Rose Court (the Nursery and Pre-prep section of The Grammar School at Leeds). Turns out that Outdoor Classroom Day was scheduled for 18 May this year. But we were outdoors a week ahead, on 11 May instead. And what a fabulous day we chose! Unbroken sunshine through all four of my Year 2 minibeast sessions.

Outdoors with Year 2 at Rose Court

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 at Rose Court (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

You can read all about our activities on the school’s website. And see more fabulous photos taken on the day at the school’s facebook page. For my take on the day, read on …

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

One of the wonderful things about learning outside the classroom is that, whilst you can plan a session until you’re blue in the face, you never know what you and the children are actually going to encounter. For example, I walked onto the Rose Court playing field, just before my first session with the children, and I immediately spied a Green Woodpecker. In the heart of Leeds! (Which, according to the taxi driver I had on the way back to the station, is the fastest growing city in Europe.) (I haven’t fact-checked that, so it may or may not be 100% accurate!)

But back to our Green Woodpecker. I was at Rose Court because Year 2 is studying minibeasts. And whilst I was hoping/expecting we’d get to see, for example, ladybirds (yes) and snails (yes) and bees (yes), I hadn’t anticipated that we’d all be able to watch a Green Woodpecker. And the relevance to minibeasts? Well, the Green Woodpecker was on the field, repeatedly jabbing its beak into the grass, because it was looking for ants to eat. It eats some 2,000 of these a day, prising them out with its pointy beak and long sticky tongue. (You can watch a Green Woodpecker doing this, and find out more about it, in my Green Woodpecker poetry video here, which is taken from my new book, Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds.)

And what, you may be wondering, is Outdoor Classroom Day? Well, to quote directly from their website:

‘Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.

Why? Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature.’

I can vouch for this – which is why I do the work I do!

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

So, if you’d like me to take your pupils on a rhyme-time ramble, or to turn them into poem-creating millipedes or to put on any of my other poetry+nature outdoor learning workshops, then just get in touch.

Meanwhile, a big Thank You to the many staff involved in my visit to Rose Court – including librarian Sandra Harris, who looked after me so well on the day, and Rachel Cockburn, for her write-up and photos. Not forgetting, of course, the Year 2 children, who were such a joy to be with.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

Autumn at Skelton Grange

I’ve been wanting to visit Skelton Grange for ages. It does in Leeds what our St Nicks does here in York. Both are environment centres in urban settings offering, amongst many other things, conservation volunteering opportunities and the chance to frolic (or stomp around – as you prefer) in nature and learn more about it.

St Nicks held its Autumn Fayre on Saturday 15 October (where I presided over the creation of a community poem). The Saturday before that, Skelton Grange held their Big Green Weekend Open Day, and invited me to come and put on an event for visitors. An invitation I couldn’t refuse!

So, I got to Skelton Grange at last! And took families with younger children on Rhyme Time Rambles round their grounds.

The setting for Skelton Grange is urban. Very urban:

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

But step inside, and you’re in a different world, with woodland and ponds and fruit trees and bird hides …

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

… and minibeast hotels and mosaics and sculptures …

A Skelton Grange sculpture

Skelton Grange sculpture

and, and, and!

There was *lots* going on at this Open Day, from spinning to willow weaving to charcoal making to … a tug of war. Oh, and spoon-making, of course, by Dan of 2carvedspoons!

Dan with his carved spoons

Dan with his beautiful carved spoons (and bowls)

Thank you to everyone who came and joined in my Rhyme Time Rambles. And to the Robin that came along for the ride!

rtr-sm-img_2238-edited

Thank you too to Freya for suggesting me to Skelton Grange in the first place. And to Toby for all his admin and organisation.

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

If you live in Leeds and haven’t been to Skelton Grange, then I thoroughly recommend it as a place where both you and the kids can run around through bird- and minibeast-rich woodland and meadow and get a real sense of being in the great outdoors slap bang in the middle of a big city. A place where you can breathe.

They run all sorts of activities and courses too. Check out their website for more details.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

And if you’d like me to put on some Rhyme Time Rambles for your upcoming outdoor event, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

World Book Day 2015

World Book Day 2015: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times, because I spent the day edu-taining the pupils at Byron House, St John’s College School in Cambridge with Buzzing! shows, poetry workshops and Rhyme Time Rambles:

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John's College School

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John’s College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John's College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John’s College School

And I got to meet lots of lovely pupils as I signed copies of my brand new paperback Buzzing! book:

15 - 03 - Buzzing at Byron House 1

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John's School in Cambridge

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John’s College School in Cambridge

It was the worst of times because I had to judge the school’s Buzzing! bookmark competition. This was an impossible task, as the children had come up with such a wide variety of fabulous bookmarks. See for yourself here:

Just some of the entries to the St John's School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Just some of the many entries to the St John’s School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Buzzing bookmark comp - 2

Eventually I did manage to select some winners, but I would like all the pupils to know how wonderful their bookmarks were, and what a joy it was to look at them all.

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

Thank you to all the staff and pupils at St John’s College School who made my World Book Day visit such a pleasure. Special thanks go to Julia Clarke, the school librarian, who did so much to enthuse the children about my visit in advance and to make it the success it was. I particularly enjoyed working with her to prepare my library poetry workshop.

What did the school make of my visit? Well, one member of staff said it was:
the best author visit we’ve had‘.
I can’t ask for better staff feedback than that!

More brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

Yet more brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

But did the children enjoy my visit? Well, here are some of their views:

‘I loved the way Anneliese performed her poems  – they were great!’

‘I liked Anneliese because she said that if you want to remember something you should write a poem about it. I think that’s really clever.”

‘I loved Anneliese’s visit as she was so inspiring.’

‘I loved Anneliese’s story telling in her Buzzing! show and I liked learning more about minibeasts.’

‘I loved the way Anneliese acted and the way her voice matched the insect and the way she remembered all those poems that she’d written.’

So, there you have it. If you’d like your school to have a buzzing visit, then do get in contact.

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Summer at RHS Harlow Carr

There can be few more beautiful places to work than RHS Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr

If you have time on your hands, I definitely recommend a visit.

RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr

I spent the summer putting on Great Garden Adventure children’s activities there. Mondays were Pioneering Poets days:

Poetry Workshops at RHS Harlow Carr

My Poetry Workshops at RHS Harlow Carr

and Tuesdays were for Rhyme Time Rambles:

Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

I’d like to thank all the children who joined in our haiku writing on Mondays, creating fabulous illustrated poetry necklaces and medallions:

Poetry necklaces and medallions at RHS Harlow Carr

Poetry necklaces and medallions at RHS Harlow Carr

waterfalls:

Poetry Waterfall at RHS Harlow Carr

Poetry Waterfall at RHS Harlow Carr

and more:

A creative haiku writer and illustrator at RHS Harlow Carr

A creative haiku writer and illustrator at RHS Harlow Carr

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, some of the grown-ups joined in too – including a Dutch couple who wrote us some bilingual haikus:

Grown-ups joining in with bilingual haikus at RHS Harlow Carr

Grown-ups joining in with bilingual haikus at RHS Harlow Carr

After months of making wet weather back-up arrangements for our Tuesday Rhyme Time Rambles, we didn’t actually need them at all. We had 5 straight dry Tuesdays on the trot! Can you believe it?! So, we were able to Rhyme Time Ramble outdoors, exploring Harlow Carr in rhythm and rhyme …

Rhyme Time Rambling at RHS Harlow Carr

Being a coiled-up millipede on one of our Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

and looking for honey bees and bumblebees and butterflies …

Looking for butterflies on our Rhyme Time Ramble at RHS Harlow Carr

Looking for butterflies on our Rhyme Time Ramble at RHS Harlow Carr

A huge thank you to all the RHS volunteers who helped me to deliver these activities over the summer. And to Events Coordinator Sarah Purves, for making sure everything ran so smoothly.

Apologies if I promised to include your photo in this blogpost and haven’t. I wasn’t using my own camera, and consequently some of the photos I took came out a bit blurry! I’ll make sure I have my own camera with me next time!

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

Rambling through Seven Stories

I led two Rhyme Time Rambles at  Seven Stories, the wonderful Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle, today. We rhyme-time rambled …

Our Rhyme Time Ramble route at Seven Stories, Newcastle

Our Rhyme Time Ramble route at Seven Stories, Newcastle

We rambled through the Wild Wood and through 100 Acre Wood. We sang songs and chanted poems about Toad and Ratty and Mole, and about Tigger and Owl and Piglet and Pooh. And we slurched like snails, and we buzzed like bees, and we fluttered like butterflies.

This event was one of a series of events at Seven Stories this week entitled ‘A Walk in the Wood’.

If you haven’t been to Seven Stories, do go! It’s a magical place. The exhibition about The Wind in the Willows and Pooh comes to an end soon. But that will be followed by a Judith Kerr exhibition. (‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ was one of my favourite books as a child, so I’m looking forward to that exhibition.)

Thank you to everyone who joined in our Rhyme Time Rambles, and to all the staff at Seven Stories, for their welcome.

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Beautiful Lealholm!

The children of Lealholm Primary School in the North York Moors National Park are extraordinarily lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

The view from Lealholm Primary School

The view from Lealholm Primary School

And I was extraordinarily lucky to be invited to spend a day with them yesterday.

Anneliese at Lealholm Primary School, North Yorkshire

Anneliese at Lealholm Primary School, North Yorkshire

After a Buzzing! performance for the whole school in the morning, the infants and I went on a Rhyme Time Ramble round their playground and field. The beady-eyed children spotted bees and a 7-spot ladybird and a painted lady butterfly, amongst other wildlife wonders.

Then in the afternoon, I revealed my Top-Secret Photography Technique to the juniors, and we all went outside to take photos. And what amazing photos these children did take! Photos of bees and flies and beetles and flowers and snails …

Here are a few of the photos that Mattie, Charlotte and Emma took. Aren’t they great?

One of the photos taken by Mattie, Charlotte and Emma

Taken by juniors at Lealhom Primary School

Another of the photos taken by Mattie, Charlotte and Emma

All the children were very observant, and found a fascinating variety of creatures to photograph. Charles Darwin would have been proud of them!

Wiggly worms in West Bank Park

We wiggly wormed into the wood last Thursday as part of my York Literature Festival event for pre-school children in West Bank Park.

This ‘Mad March Hares’ Rhyme Time Ramble took us right to the top of a Very Tall Tree (in our imaginations), and also all the way underground (for real) to where the worms live. The children enjoyed digging up all sorts of worms, from long fat brown ones to thin little grey ones.

Digging up worms on our Rhyme Time Ramble

Digging up worms on our Rhyme Time Ramble

We all enjoyed watching the different sorts of worms we’d found, especially when they wriggled themselves up into a big ball.

Looking at the different worms we'd dug up

Looking at the different worms we'd dug up

I performed my special earthworm song for everyone.

It was a very exciting Rhyme Time Ramble. We marched like ants and we buzzed like bees. And one girl even saw a pink dragon!

And we were all very lucky because the Story Tree gave us a rhyme time story at the end of our ramble.

One of our successful worm hunters

One of our successful worm hunters

Molly’s mum wrote to me afterwards:

‘ It was a great session – such a good idea to inject a bit of magic into nature like that, because it got them all going – Molly got really into it, and didn’t want to leave!’

Conor’s mum wrote:

‘It was a truly wonderful morning … I loved watching them all staring up into the Very Tall Tree and really, really WONDERING what they would see from up there. Conor said to tell you his favourite thing was doing the ‘we’re off into the woods’ rhyme walking round the flowerbed in a circle!’

Thank you to everyone who came along, to Catherine Heinemeyer for her organisatorial skills, to the Friends and Very Young Friends of West Bank Park for their support of the event. And to Clare for the lovely ‘digging up worms’ photo above.

And if, like us, you enjoy digging up worms, then check out OPAL, who are running a worm survey across the country, and who need you to join in! Find out more

Anneliese Emmans Dean – info@theBigBuzz.bizwww.theBigBuzz.biz