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

 

 

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Insect Festival 2015

The Museum Gardens in York was teeming with even more insects than usual last Sunday as it hosted the biennial Royal Entomological Society Insect Festival.

Insect Festival 2015 (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Insect Festival 2015 (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Unusual additions included the butterfly above and the fly below, aka the very talented (and just a tad barmy) author of SWAT!, Mike Barfield (with whom I went to the Hay Festival last year):

Mike Barfield, author of SWAT! (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Mike Barfield, author of SWAT! (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Mike and I were on hand at the Brambleby Books stall …

With Mike Barfield at the Brambleby Books stall

With Mike Barfield at the Brambleby Books stall

… to entertain visitors and sign copies of our respective minibeast-themed books. (Mine being, of course, Buzzing!) Here I am in action:

It was great to see young and old alike at the Festival lapping up the huge variety of exhibits and minibeast-themed activities on offer.

Introducing visitors to my Buzzing! book. (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Introducing visitors to my Buzzing! book. (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Hats off to the man who swore blind he did NOT like poetry, but allowed me 2 minutes of his time to change his mind. He left, a good 5 minutes later, laughing and with a signed copy of my Buzzing! poetry book in his hands.

Children perusing copies of my Buzzing! book at the Brambleby Books stall.  (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Children perusing copies of my Buzzing! book at the Brambleby Books stall.
(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

This was the fourth time the Insect Festival has been held at the Museum Gardens in York – and the fourth time I’ve been there. (Find out what I got up to at the 2013 and 2009 Festivals.) According to the RES it was the most successful Festival yet, with more people attending than ever before. Let’s hope it will return to York again in two years’ time.

(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

I took the opportunity, whilst I was there, to go along to the Buglife stall and sign up to become a Tansy Beetle Champion. If you live in and around York, would you like to become one too? You can find out more here.

Thank you to Nicola and Hugh Loxdale of Brambleby Books for all they did to make our stall run so well. And to all the other contributors and everyone at the RES and beyond who made the day such a success.

Nicola Loxdale, Director of my publishers Brambleby Books.

Nicola Loxdale, Director of my publishers Brambleby Books.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Topic: Minibeasts!

All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!

I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.

How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:

‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’

And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:

‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’

I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.

I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!

If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

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

Buzzing! goes paperback

In the beginning there was the hardback version of my book Buzzing! It was nominated for the Carnegie Medalshortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s book prize and selected as a National Insect Week recommended children’s book and teachers’ resource.

That edition sold out.

Then came the hardback reprint. Just in time for the Hay Festival.

And now, just in time for World Book Day, comes the paperback edition of Buzzing!

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Cover of my paperback book Buzzing!

Just as colourful. Just as funny. Just as educational. But lighter – in your hand, and on your wallet. (Just £9.99 instead of the hardback £14.99.)

To celebrate the paperback launch, for the next two weeks (till 15 March 2015) I’m donating 50p for each book ordered on my website to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (registered charity 1115634 & SCO42830), who wrote the Foreword to the book. (And who do sterling work for bumblebees and, therefore, for us all!)

Order your signed paperback copy of Buzzing! – with free UK p&p – here!

And if you’d like me to dedicate your copy to someone, just let me know their name when you place your order.

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

 

National Non-Fiction November

So, how have you celebrated National Non-Fiction November this year? I’ve had two highlights. The first was being featured as the interview of the month by Book Events for Children. The second was spending a day at Driffield Junior School, where the theme of my visit was ‘Inventions’.

You may not realise it, but many of our most important inventions have been inspired by minibeasts. So I started my Driffield visit with a special Buzzing! show to introduce the whole school to some of these inventions. From paper to robots, minibeasts have shown us the way!

Year 6 is studying inventions and inventors at the moment, and I spent the rest of the day working with four Year 6 classes to bring poetry to that topic. We performed some of my inventing-inspired poetry together, then the pupils went on to create some fabulous invention-inspired poems of their own.

I’m hoping to be able to show you some of their poems soon. In the meantime you can read some of the teachers’ feedback here.

Was it a worthwhile visit? Well, Year 6 teacher Helen Mudd wrote to me afterwards that:

‘It really got the children fired up about writing poetry … All the children really loved meeting you and have produced some brilliant work … One boy upon entering school the next day said:

“Are we writing poetry again today? YYEEEEESSSSS!!!” ‘

I was particularly moved when I heard that one of the boys in their nurture unit had asked to read some poetry books the day after my visit, in preference to the other activities on offer.

I had a great day at Driffield Junior School, welcomed warmly by staff and (very polite, creative, enthusiastic and well-behaved) pupils alike. Thank you to one and all.

If you’d like to get Buzzing! inventive at your school, then just get in touch with me or with Book Events for Schools!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Buzzing! anew

I’m delighted to be able to announce that the first print run of Buzzing! has sold out! So, whereas my Buzzing! book used to look like this:

Cover of 'Buzzing! - Discover the Poetry in Garden Minibeasts' by Anneliese Emmans Dean

Original cover of ‘Buzzing! – Discover the Poetry in Garden Minibeasts’ by Anneliese Emmans Dean

It now looks like this:

Cover of the new 2014 reprint of Buzzing!

Cover of the new 2014 reprint of Buzzing!

Yes, the second print run has a slightly different front (and back) cover, and now proudly bears the logo of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.

I first got to see this new impression at the Hay Festival, where halfway through my book signing the books changed from old to new covers.

My first glimpse of the new reprint of Buzzing!

My first glimpse of the new reprint of Buzzing! at the Hay Festival

I’d like to guarantee anyone who bought a copy of the first print run that – if they keep it in pristine condition – it will one day be worth as much as a first edition of the first Harry Potter. However, although I’ll do my best, I don’t think that’s a guarantee I can guarantee!

Instead, I suggest you take your copy of Buzzing! outside with you and start putting it through its paces as you enjoy looking for the creatures that appear in its pages. That’s what the book is for. Enjoy!

If you’d like me to sign a copy of the new-look Buzzing! for you, then come along to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London on Saturday (5 July), where I’ll be performing my Buzzing! show at 1pm and signing books afterwards. Entry is free! See you there …

And if you can’t make London on Saturday, you can always order signed copies (with a personal dedication, if you’d like) from my website.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Buzzing! Down Under

You may remember the photo of the beautiful Aaliyah and Zawadi clutching their copies of Buzzing! in South Africa. Well this week I received a photo of another two beautiful little girls each with a copy of my Buzzing! book, but this time they were even further away. Australia, to be precise!

Amelia and Mia buzzing in Melbourne, Australia

Amelia and Mia buzzing in Melbourne, Australia

Australia?! How very exciting!

I have it on good authority that the girls were ‘as pleased as punch’ with the book, and that ‘Shortly after, they both ran off to try and find some of the bugs mentioned in it.’

Well now, I wonder what they will find … . I’ve recently discovered (from reading Dave Goulson’s fascinating book A Sting in the Tail) that there are no bumblebees in Australia. Fancy that. (And fancy my not knowing that!) So they’ll draw a blank there. But I wish them much fun hunting the fabulous minibeast fauna of Down Under.

A big Thank You to Steve for sending me this lovely photo!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life