Tree-tastic activities help connect children back to nature

1 November 2016

Pupils from St Elizabeth’s primary school in Wythenshawe have benefitted from a series of woodland-themed activities thanks to City of Trees and support from Manchester City Council.

A total of seven sessions took place, with students across the school, from Year 1 through to 5, involved in wonderful woodland events from creating bird and bat boxes to mini-beast hunts, both in the classroom and in local woodland Gorse Covert.

The project is part of a wider scheme by environmental charity City of Trees, who are working to bring back the small Wythenshawe woodland into use for the local community.

A series of events have been undertaken alongside Manchester City Council who have been working to improve the stream through the woodland, as part of Manchester’s Clean City project to create a greener, cleaner Manchester, www.manchester.gov.uk/cleancity.

Since spring 2016 City of Trees has been working alongside residents to bring the unused, unloved, woodland back into use and has already cleared over 5 tonnes of rubbish, planted hundreds of spring bulbs and helped new trees take root.

Pupils from the 450-strong primary school have been taking part in the activities all aimed to help them learn more about the nature on their doorstep.

Sessions included ‘History and heritage’; learning about the past of the woodland, as well as ‘Habitat and home’; creating hedgehog homes and bird and bat boxes as well as ‘Energy and ecology’ which involved learning about food webs, woodland structures and stream ecology.

Bryan Cosgrove, City of Trees comments “By getting kids out and about in the great outdoors and learning about their local woodland, we hope to show how important trees, woods and wildlife are.

He adds; “Hopefully the pupils will learn why we need to plant more trees, and protect the ones we have.” 

The sessions have been delivered by Oliver Bishop from Yan Tan Tethera who comments; “The activities were designed to both enthral and educate, making the most of the children’s curiosity and creativity”.

The benefits of outdoor education are widely known with evidence showing that nature-based learning supports significant improvements in social studies, science, language, arts and maths.

Sarah Prunty, teacher at St Elizabeth’s comments “The sessions were educational, fun and allowed the children to gain a real understanding of the importance of woodlands. Pupils were engaged and excited throughout the sessions and are really starting to feel a sense of ownership over the woodland.”

City of Trees is also currently bidding to bag a cash boost from the Tesco bags of help initiative to further improve Gorse Covert. Voting opened in stores on 31 October, and is running until 13 November. Customers can cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out each time they shop.

The Gorse Covert project is being supported by leading housebuilder Stewart Milne Group, Manchester City Council, Real Food Wythenshawe and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.

City of Trees aims to plant a 3 million trees, one for every man, woman and child that lives in the City Region, within a generation; as well as bring back 2,000 hectares of unloved woodland back into use.