Dunster First School

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Eco Schools

The Eco Action Team is made up of representatives from each class. The Reps have responsibilities within their class, for example: emptying the compost caddy, checking the recycling boxes and turning off lights and closing doors when leaving the room. They also represent their class at meetings to discuss, plan and share news of any environmental activities in school. The Action Team also get involved in local and national environmental projects working with Exmoor National Park, Somerset Wildlife Trust, The RSPB and EDF.

Eco Action Team 2018-2019

Eco Action Team 2018-2019 1

Eco Activities

Switch Off Fortnight

The Eco Action Team's first project, in the Autumn term, was 'Switch Off Fortnight'. This is a national campaign run by EDF energy through their  educational website 'The Pod'. Schools all over the country join in to encourage awareness of electricity usage and share ways to save power and save the planet!

 

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First, the Action Team carried out a secret mission. They visited all the classrooms and other areas of school to find out if lights or computers had been left on when not needed, or if rooms were too warm. They really enjoyed sneaking about with their clipboards!

Then they led a special assembly to tell the whole school what they had found out on their secret mission. They also shared a short film from 'The Pod' explaining why it is important to save energy and shared ideas of how to save energy both at home and school.

There are interactive activities and more information about this and other environmental projects on www.jointhepod.org 

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Wassail!

 

Wassail is an ancient tradition of thanking and blessing fruit trees that happens on the 17th of January every year.

On Thursday 17th January this year, the Eco Action Team joined committee members at The Buttercross Community Orchard in Dunster to carry out a Wassail ceremony to thank the trees sponsored by our school. Each class has their own tree in the orchard and every year we are given apples from the orchard for healthy snacks in the autumn term.

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First, they hung toast soaked in apple juice in the branches of each tree. The toast is to encourage the robin to come to the tree to feed and also eat any bugs that might damage the tree.

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Then they sang traditional Wassail songs to thank and bless the trees.

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Next, they used instruments and their voices to make as much noise as they could to frighten away any bad things!

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Finally, they drank some apple juice to toast the health of the trees. This apple juice was very special because it was made from the apples from our own trees!

The Buttercross Community Orchard is situated just up the road from school, behind the Buttercross. It is managed by a committee of volunteers and is there to be used and enjoyed by the community. There are picnic benches and a grassy area for playing. Join us in the summer for our family picnic day - date to be confirmed.

RSPB Big Schools Bird Watch

Once again, along with schools from all around the country, our school has helped the RSPB with their work to survey and protect birds in the UK this year.

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A couple of weeks before our bird watch, the Eco Action Team set up feed stations in the school field and Nature Garden to encourage more birds to our grounds and help them out during the cold spell. They put out seed feeders, peanut feeders, fat balls and meal worms.

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On a sunny February afternoon, the Eco Action Team split into two groups and spent one hour counting the birds that visited our grounds. We sat quietly in both the field and the Nature Garden, using binoculars and posters to help identify what we saw. We had to count the most amount of any species that we saw together on the ground, in a tree or at a feed station. This way we made sure that we didn't keep counting the same bird over and over again!

We sent our results to the RSPB. They will use the results from the survey to help identify which birds are doing well and which birds are in decline and need some help.

 

For more information about the work of the RSPB visit their website: www.rspb.org . You will  also find ideas for things you can do at home to help nature in your garden.

Somerset's Brilliant Coast and Wild Beach  

 

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Following on from our 'Waste Week' campaign last year focussing on plastic waste pollution, the Action Team are working with Somerset Wildlife Trust as part of their 'Somerset's Brilliant Coast' campaign. The children will be taking part in 'Wild Beach' sessions, for 3 consecutive weeks, at Dunster Beach. Wild Beach has a similar ethos to Forest School and aims to help children build a positive relationship with their local coastal environment, through fun and hands on learning experiences. From these sessions the children will develop a greater awareness of coastal wildlife, geology and local history along with a better understanding of beach safety. They will then be able to share their learning with the rest of their class on beach days out during the summer term.

 

 

Wild Beach - session one 

 

On Wednesday 20th March we began our Wild Beach work with Somerset Wildlife Trust. The weather was good and our project leader, Tilda, had prepared activities to help us enjoy and explore our beach.

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Our first task was a scavenger hunt. We were given buckets to collect things in and explorer sheets  to tell us what to look for.

Some of the things we tried to find were: 

                                                                  Something the same colour as our eyes,

                                                                  Something that goes pop,

                                                                  A spiral,

                                                                  A piece of driftwood,

                                                                  A seed or egg case,

                                                                  A mystery item that you don't recognise,

                                                                  Something unnatural.

 

The children were very good at finding things and inquisitive to find out what their mystery objects were!

Picture 1 Reuben found 2 different 'mermaids' purses'!
Picture 2 Jasmine found a collection of seeds.
Picture 3 Tilda was amazed at our scavenger skills!
Picture 4 This 'mermaid's purse' is a cat shark egg case.

Once each group had shared their finds, we began our next challenge  - to create a piece of 'Beach Art' using pebbles, shells, driftwood, seaweed and anything else we could find. The children were very creative . . . more so than the adults!

After all their hard work, the children were particularly excited about the last activity - Lighting the storm kettle to make hot chocolate! They had to work for it first though, by collecting small sticks and tinder for the fire.

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Wild Beach - Session two

 

The weather was glorious for our second session and the tide was in, giving us a different experience of our brilliant beach.

We learned that our area has the second quickest tide in the world, so if you're not careful you can get trapped in a bay or cove by the incoming sea. That's why our local Coastguard and Lifeboat crew are kept so busy!

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This week our first activity was a sound-scape. The children enjoyed sitting or lying quietly with blindfolds on just listening to the sounds around them. After a short while, we came back together and shared our experiences. We sat in a circle and used a piece of driftwood as a talking stick.

The Eco Action Team would like you to know we are now also a Learning Partner with the Exmoor National Park. 

They would like to thank the kind volunteer drivers of the Exmoor Community Mini-bus who transported us to our Wild Beach Sessions.

 

 

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