Exploring nature and the environment is essential if children are to develop a better understanding of the world in which they live. It helps improve their understanding of science and increases their awareness of our impact on the environment. In this article, we’ll look at a selection of outdoor playground equipment you can use to help pupils learn about the environment in fun, hands-on ways.
Birds & Bugs
One of the best ways you can get children to appreciate birds and bugs is through seeing them close up in their natural habitats. To make this possible, we have created a range of outdoor science resources designed to encourage these animals to visit and even make their homes on your school’s grounds.
Our butterfly boxes, for example, are the perfect way for children to study these beautiful creatures. The wooden boxes are a safe environment for butterflies and with its Perspex window, children can regularly observe how the insects change during their life cycle. The boxes attract different species of hibernating butterflies during the winter and are also used to lay eggs, hatch larvae and change into caterpillars. Some caterpillars will even use the box as the place to form their chrysalis and turn into a butterfly.
For a wider variety of bug life, we also have ladybird towers and our wonderful insect habitat which, with its many nooks and crannies, is the ideal home for a wide variety of insects, all of which can be studied close up on a regular basis.
If you are looking to investigate the birdlife in your school’s local area, then our bird tables can be a great way to encourage them onto your premises. Put it in a quiet spot where children can observe through a window without disturbing the birds and you’ll soon find them flocking to your site. You can even set up a camera and take pictures of the different species that visit. You’ll also be able to help them stay fed during the winter months.
It’s important that all children learn to appreciate food, where it comes from and how it grows. There is no better way of doing that then letting them grow their own food and, if possible, getting them to cook and eat it once it is harvested.
Here at ESP Play, we have everything you need to create your own school food garden so children can learn about sustainable living, first hand. Our growing boxes and herb planters are ideal for growing a range of organic, seasonal vegetables and herbs which can be harvested and taken straight to the kitchen. Ideal for easy planters like carrots, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.
Learning about a plant’s lifecycle is a key part of the National Curriculum and our schools’ outdoor planting equipment enables children to study how plants grow and to see the effects that soil, sunlight and water have on them. You can compare different species of plant and take a close look at the fauna that lives on them. We even provide an investigation table, specially designed to help students do exciting scientific investigations into the soil and plants.
At the same time, you can bring the beauty of nature right into the heart of your school’s playground by creating an area that is full of colourful, scented plants. This is a great way to help pupils appreciate nature whilst creating a calm and peaceful space for them to spend their lunch and break times.
We provide schools with a range of planters, trellises and digging pits. We even have planters with Perspex windows so children can observe root growth and under soil fauna without having to disturb the plants and risk damaging their delicate root systems. Alternatively, you can also install one of our unique, curriculum-based growing boards.
We also provide fencing and gates if you want to keep your mini nature reserve as a special place which can only be visited under supervision.
Watching The Weather
Studying the weather is another area covered by the National Curriculum and one of the things children love to do the most is record the weather in their own location. Here at ESP Play, we have developed a selection of weather stations that record wind speed, precipitation, cloud cover and a range of other details that children can use to examine weather patterns and seasonal changes. These can be mounted on posts or on walls in your playground for ease of use and can be taken down when not needed.
Helping children get closer to nature can have lots of benefits. It helps them appreciate the environment, leading to an increased awareness of the need to protect it in the future. At the same time, first-hand experience of investigating nature helps pupils develop a deeper understanding of the science taught in the classroom. Using our range of outdoor playground equipment, you can easily transform your grounds into your own nature zone and take your science lessons outside. For more details, check out our Nature and Garden section.