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Chirnside Primary School's LEAF journey

A blog post by Hazel Millar

P6 pupils at Chirnside Primary School kindly wrote all about their LEAF journey, from planting and eating plants to building hedgehog houses and ponds!

Primary 6 were given a patch of grass to turn into a sustainable garden that would attract wildlife for years to come. 

Our patch of grass was north facing so we had to learn about various plants that grew in sun and shade before we even started planting anything.  We also had to research which plants were best for attracting wildlife.  For example: birds love teasel seeds, slugs love hostas, bees and butterflies collect nectar and are attracted to colourful flowers.

First, we made a huge bug mansion from a wooden palette and some wire donated by the local farmer.

We added a hedgehog house, a small pond and a bird feeder and named our garden ‘bugs and beyond’…………..still no wildlife appeared!

Plants were donated by the local garden centre and generous parents, we also bought plants cheaply from local plant sales and the bargain bins in our local Homebase.

We put plants in the garden in the sunny and shady part, which gave the garden some colour.  Within days, we had birds at the feeder and some even bathing in our wee pond, birds pecking amongst the grass and plants for worms and bugs.  Any time we worked in the garden and found a bug we carefully put it in the bug mansion.

We planted plants to help us analyse the quality of the soil, digging them up after eight weeks; the plants were still in one piece telling us that our soil quality was poor.

The local potato company gave us potatoes for an interclass competition, we discovered how and when to ‘row’ up potatoes for the best yield.

We studied the lifecycle of the tomato plant – our class plant has lovely yellow flowers.  We studied the lifecycle of the butterfly and three out of our five caterpillars transformed into butterflies which we released into our garden.

We have an ‘edible’ classroom, a table of herbs and flowers which we can safely nibble on each day; we put marigolds amongst the edible plants, this is called companion planting and stops bugs eating our tasty plants.

Talking of edible – we picked nettles and made nettle soup and nettle tea.  We picked dandelions and baked dandelion bread; making a dandelion recipe book on ICT.  Mrs Millar brought in lilac flowers and we made lilac lemonade.

We are extremely proud of what we have achieved over the year and look forward to seeing our garden grow and develop through time.

We discovered that some plants were edible.  We used lilac flowers to make lilac lemonade (we also made a recipe book on book creator!) We were amazed how good it tasted!

Pupils at Chirnside PS were asked what they learned during LEAF. They learned:

  • How to plant flowers, plants and seeds correctly
  • How to test if your soil is good or poor - Lexxi
  • How to plant trees - Jason
  • The value of a bug hotel/mansion - Harrison
  • That some plants grow better in sun or shade - Mollie
  • How to safely handle fungi - Nicole
  • How to use natural products such as nettles, dandelions and lilac flowers in food and drink - Erin
  • How to recognise different types of birds - Sophia
  • Stages of a butterfly lifecycle – Merrin & Natali

Their favourite part of LEAF was:

  • Just being busy playing and learning outside – Sol
  • Baking dandelion bread - Natali
  • Watching the caterpillars change to butterflies - Merrin
  • Seeing the garden all come together and watching the different birds - Sophia
  • Planting pants for soil analysis – Lexxi
  • Going to the woods because being in nature is nicer and we are starting to make the woods look better

Parents were then surveyed too, after being told about LEAF by the pupils at home. All parents were happy for their children to be learning outside, and all thought LEAF should be part of the curriculum from P1 to P7.

“I think it is wonderful that there is an opportunity to go to the woods and learn from nature, to see and to touch pure plants, not just to see pre-made books with pictures” – Natali’s mum

“..there are no negatives about learning outside, just all positive ones. It’s amazing what children can learn out and about and the learning stays with them because it was memorable” – Erin’s mum

“…designing the garden and creating it has been a great experience for the class. It is something they can be proud of!” – Harrison’s mum

“ …makes learning more fun/uses their imagination, it is nurturing and good for mental health, it gets children interested in nature and their surroundings. (Too many children spend a lot of time inside their home environments gaming) – Sol’s mum

If you'd like to learn more about LEAF, visit LEAF | Keep Scotland Beautiful for more information.

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