Pre-Prep Look to the Skies in Science

Not far from Casterton there is a wonderful nature reserve of woodland, ponds, wetlands and reedbeds, home to a wide array of wild birds, plants and unique natural habitats. Bitterns and Marsh Harriers are two of the area’s most special and rare residents; on the recent Pre-prep trip to RSPB Leighton Moss, they provided a focal point for much of the wonderful learning and discovery that took place. 

Following a half term’s engaging science work on animals and their habitats, excitement for the trip in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 was already high when we boarded a coach to the reserve on a slightly grey and gloomy early March morning. A last minute forecast of snow did not however materialise and by the time we arrived at Leighton Moss the sun was out and it was looking decidedly Spring-like.  

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Pre-Prep at RSBP Leighton Moss

After reassurances that it was not in fact lunch time yet, but only 9.30, the three Pre-Prep classes split into two groups: Bitterns and Marsh Harriers, and went in separate directions; one group to go pond dipping, and the other hunting for minibeasts in the orchard. The children enthusiastically scoured the water and woodland habitats for signs of animal life, and made some fascinating discoveries. Cries of excitement greeted every slug and damsel fly larva that was uncovered and classified using the reserve’s carefully planned resources. The children’s knowledge and enthusiasm for nature, animals and their habitats really shone through. 

Searching for mini beasts
Searching for mini beasts

On to lunch; and we were able to sit in the sunlight and enjoy a packed lunch while entertainment was provided, as the teachers all tried different duck dispersal techniques to save sandwiches and satsumas from being snaffled by the reserve’s most friendly feathery residents. Sitting outside and enjoying a picnic was such an uplifting experience that really set the tone for the remaining exciting activities planned: a visit to the bird hides with binoculars and a trip up the ‘Sky Tower’, as well as classroom session to warm chilly hands while handling various bird nests, feathers and eggs. 

Both groups spotted lots of common and some more unusual birds from the hides, honing their binocular skills while focusing on swans, ducks, geese and other waterfowl. The 5 storey ‘Sky Tower’ provided the chance to see the reserve from the height of a goose as it flew in to land and was very well received by all, with lots of children declaring that they would be back with their families soon. 

bird watching at Leighton Moss
Bird watching in the hides

Wandering through the reed beds, looking and listening out for bitterns and listening to the animated and happy shouts and laughter of the children, it was clear just how important outdoor learning is for children, and how much they benefit from it. On every front, skills were being acquired and honed – physical, language learning, social and emotional skills, questioning and observation skills, the list goes on. On top of this, lots of specific scientific knowledge was gained and facts logged away, hopefully to be shared with others at a later date. Tired, happy children trooped off the bus on our return and some lasting memories were made; what a successful trip and thank you to all staff, children and parents involved for your help and support. Here’s to the next one! 

By Mr Burrell, Year 2 Class Teacher

Welcome to Leighton Moss

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