Small Isles Primary School

Fantastic BEES and Where to Find Them (Newt Scamander’s Suitcase)

Our garden is set in the suitcase of Wizarding Magizoologist, ‘Newt Scamander’ (Fanstastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) where he looks after and studies various magical beasts in their home environment created within his magical case.  He nurses ill species back to health using the herbs and potions in his apothecary, which we have created in the upstanding case area of our design. You’ll find ‘Mint for beastly breath’, ‘Lemon Balm for coughs and colds’ ‘Lavender for snotty noses’, ‘Thyme to send aggressive beasts to sleep’, ‘Nasturtium for nasty natures’ and ‘Borage for beastly boils’.

The children have (as in the story) created an Arizona desert-like area using cream pebbles and with cornflowers as cacti. They have painted Occimies who nest up high nearby (one in the hanging basket nest) and a Thunderbird who is native to the desert is by the stone stacks which the children re-created.  Picket (the stick-like creature) is hiding with the borage to disguise himself and Niffler is hiding with his stolen treasure (as always) in the jungle area (rainbow chard). Newt and Grindelwald are etched on logs at each side of the handle and have wands draw towards each other to show their battle of good versus evil. 

The magnifying glasses are there to represent Newts constant search for new or rare creatures and are also there for our children and Pre5 children to have fun mini-beast hunting.  Our senses poem and the many bee images around the case bring in the main pollinator we have aimed to attract and link it to where you can find them in relation to the Fantastic Beasts and plants in Newt’s case.

Bug hunting kit ready to go

Senses poem

Bees hotel round the back

We have plants to attract many pollinators, but we’ve focussed on bees as a play on the word ‘Beasts’ and as a school, we have a particular interest in helping bees as we know they are struggling to survive. The story is a class favourite and the children were keen to make the suitcase as it is quite a unique concept and lends itself well to the shape of wooden pallets.

Our garden is wildlife friendly as we have included many plants to attract pollinators within the main bed of the case and in Newt’s Apothecary.  We have also created a Bee Hotel on the back of the case, using bee-designed sliced logs with holes drilled in to attract and house solitary bees.  We have dotted borage and marigold plants around the hotel as close snacking opportunity for our hotel guests.  Underneath the raised base pallet, we have created a mini-beast hotel using moss, crumbling wood, bark, bricks etc. Almost all plants included are handy snacks for pollinators (particularly bees).

All parts of the garden were made from old items and given new life.  We used and redesigned plastics bottles, tubs and old plant pots to hold plants, we used holey wellies as ‘Newt’s Boots’ containing the leggy bronze fennel, a broken spade handle became the bracket from our hanging ‘Occamy nest’ (and strawberry basket).  The pallets were recycled from our old outdoor stage area and the wood holding the case together and for the handle of the case at the top was from our old raised beds. 

The slates for ‘Niffler’ and the senses poem are recycled from an old art area we had and the costume jewellery stolen and hanging out of Niffler’s pouch were donated by a parent. The compass points are old barrel bungs, the magnifying glasses were from an old science kit we had, the log slices were reused from stumps we had the playground and the wands at the top are sticks we found.  We lined the beds with cardboard boxes to prevent weeds growing up and lined with the compost bags we had too.  The other bees and beasts were painted on rocks we found on our beach.

The following plants are edible: mint, thyme, lavender, borage, marigolds, nasturtiums, lettuce, speedy salad, bronze fennel, rainbow chard, lemon balm, strawberry plant and cornflowers.  Once the competition has finished, we plan on using all crops for school cooking and baking and will use as many items as possible in our One Planet Picnic day. We will continue to learn about plants to attract pollinators and add them to our garden.  We would like to extend our wildlife area and our Outdoor Learning Committee are developing this as well as revamping our (very lonely) raised bed area. We will apply the knowledge and skills gained through this process to plan, plant, nurture and harvest more produce.  We would love to be able to use our produce within our school lunches too.

Apothecary area

The Niffler with stolen jewels

Occamy hanging basket nest

We have learned so much about growing, pollinators and construction through this competition.  We now know that nasturtiums are better planted straight into the bed, that flowers like marigolds, borage and nasturtiums are edible and great for attracting pollinators.  We have also learned that we can achieve great things in a short time frame when we work together towards a shared vision.

The weather has taught us many things including that it brings with it great joy and harmony in gardening as well as real struggles in encouraging growing when it is unfavourable (sunshine has been significantly lacking with rain in plentiful supply!) Our flowers are just about to open. We had to problem solve frequently to adapt to these changes. Our newly established DIY skills have been outstanding and from sawing, painting, drilling and constructing we have gained life skills in the safe and effective usage of tools for use in lifelong learning.

We formed strong links with our local Community Garden and acquired sage knowledge (and some plants) to assist in our garden build.  They were very helpful when we had any questions regarding appropriate planting or plant care.  As we are a very small school, we also drafted in the help of our P2-4 children who also submitted a design.  They were keen to help craft some of the ‘beasts and bees’, help paint the hotel bees and they assisted in the writing of the senses poem written from the bees’ perspective.

The children have rated each plant’s appeal to humans and to bees using smiley faces and bee images on the reverse of the wooden plant name sticks.  Three of any of these images means it is very highly enjoyed by either humans, bees or both, rated down to zero numbers of these images.  We thought it would be a useful tool to identify the most favourable snacks for each.  They have also created a map to help navigate the way around the case.

The children have loved every minute creating their garden and have become quite the experts in edible plants and plants for pollinators.  Their team work, determination and creativity has been outstanding and the competition has sparked a greater appreciation and enthusiasm for self-sufficiency and wildlife conservation.  It has been a highly valuable and enjoyable learning experience for all and we can’t wait to continue our good work this summer and beyond.

Map of the garden

Garden Design

Creating the garden - from design to reality

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