Our Flower Patch

Inspiring a new generation of growers

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Bird spotting in the flower patch

song thrush in the snow

Song thrush in the snow

Name a bird!

Go on. Name another one.

We’ll bet you already know what this is.




But you’re probably not going to see one of these in your school playground or garden.

parrot bird identification for primary school

A parrot at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.


Over the next few weeks the RSPB are holding their annual Big Birdwatch for home gardens and schools. It’s easy to get involved. You’ll find all the details about the schools birdwatch here and the home one here

Working on a healthy flower patch will provide you with plenty of opportunities to spot birds and being able to identify and name the birds you see is fun. Sadly it’s a skill which is in decline nowadays but it’s a great way to teach close observation skills to young children.

How many birds can you name? Can you recognise all those that you can name? I guess, unless we are ardent bird watchers, then we all have our handful of birds we can name and identify. I’m ok with the more colourful characters, but tend to get a bit stuck with anything small and brown. I still think it is very “unfair” that the males of the species are often easier to spot and correctly identify, whereas I tend to be a bit confused about some of the females.

Do you have some regular feathered visitors to your school grounds or garden? Do you already feed the birds?

Hopefully if you already have some bird visitors then you can spend a bit of time with your children watching them. If they are rather scarce on the ground, then we have some bird feeding activities coming up to help encourage them to become more regular visitors. The RSPB has a host of activities too.

Have a look in your library for any bird identification books or posters you can find.

We have created a Pinterest board featuring some common British garden birds so that you can use the images in your activities. If you have any other birds that regularly visit your grounds or garden then look online or on Pinterest for images of those also.

There is a free RSPB bird quiz available on my ipad! I wonder how many I can complete?

There are also some free apps and some to buy for bird identification. Let us know if you find any especially useful.

The RSPB even has a bird version of top trumps on their website.

You can download their bird cards. These come with instructions on how to play Big Card Bird watch but you could easily use these for other activities. They have lovely illustrations of 30 British birds.



Make an event out of bird watching. Build a bird hide if you are feeling adventurous. It doesn’t need to be high tech. A few poles and a tarpaulin will do. Build it a few days before you want to do your bird spotting so that your feathered friends are used to it and position it close to a source of bird food. Then quietly sit in it and wait. Alternatively, turn your classroom into a twitcher’s paradise. Obviously adding in a drink and a snack of nuts, seeds and fruit is a bonus for children and provides an opportunity to discuss with them why it’s important to feed the birds at this time of year and what food birds need to survive.

Now when it comes to bird calls … I’m lost! An area for personal development I think! Perhaps I should make a New Year’s resolution to listen to Tweet of the Day.

We provide outdoor based lesson plans and activities for teachers and home schoolers on a weekly basis to our members. It’s a fun and affordable way to explore growing, nature, wildlife and the outdoors with primary school children. Check out our website for details. We’d love to welcome you into our club in 2015.

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Wildlife Action Awards for Schools


Hawkshead moth caterpillar with a child's finger for scale.

Hawkshead moth caterpillar with a child’s finger for scale.

This week on  the blog we want to highlight the RSPB’s  Wildlife Action Award for Schools. For schools who are already learning outside the classroom, it is an easy way to endorse some of your outdoor learning. For those who would like to expand their provision, then it can provide a focus, which will assist teachers in creating exciting learning activities. It will also help to make  school grounds a sustainable wildlife haven and demonstrate commitment to providing frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom.This can lead to the  Council for Learning Outside the Classroom‘s Schools Mark. Good for pupils, school grounds, wildlife and the planet. That’s not bad, is it?

Of course, if you are one of the Our Flower Patch member schools, following our programme means that you have an easy way to tick off many of the action points to help secure the award.  Check out our website for information about how to join us. Here’s a list of the activities taken from the award booklet, many of which form part of our National curriculum linked activity zone sessions.

Section 1 : Finding out what’s there 
1.1What’s that flower?
1.2 Plant survey
1.3 Minibeasts close-up
1.4 Counting butterflies and moths
1.5 Pond dipping
1.6 Go birdwatching
1.7 Big Garden Birdwatch
1.8 Big Schools’ Birdwatch
1.9 Take part in a survey
1.10 Between the tides
Section 2: Helping wildlife
2.1 Where minibeasts live
2.2 Creating a pond (double point activity)
2.3 Nestboxes for birds
2.4 Feeding birds
2.5 Bat Boxes
2.6 Helping hedgehogs
2.7 Planting trees
2.8 Wildlife garden (double point activity)
2.9 Looking after a wildlife garden/pond
Section 3: Being environmentally friendly
3.1 Save it
3.2 Bike, bus or walk
3.3 Reduce, re-use, recyle
3.4 Composting
3.5 Green shopping and food
3.6 Collecting litter
3.7 Climate Action Award
Section 4: Spread the word
4.1 Get Creative
4.2 Put on a show
4.3 Make a display
4.4 Get in the news
4.5 Write to your MP
4.6 Raise funds for wildlife
4.7 Involve others

Growing a flower patch is great for wildlife and running a sustainable, eco friendly enterprise in school ensures that your pupils already understand the value of composting, recycling and spreading the word about local crops and green shopping. You see how much we’re helping you tick all the boxes?

If you’re reading this and are not a teacher in a school, here’s the good news, there are separate awards for families, homeschoolers and community groups too. Check out the website for further details.

poplar hawk-moth

A Poplar Hawk-moth