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Nursery boosts environmental awareness through innovative bird hide

Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

Children from Everton Nursery School and Family Centre have created an innovative bird hide by working in collaboration with a local construction company.

Local construction company, Clan Products donated material and worked with the children seeing the project through the design stages to the construction process.

The project began when children were quizzed on what they would like to see outside their nursery and they decided on a bird hide. Working with Clan products, the children worked with ‘mini’ tools during construction to apply the finishing touches to the project.

Jamie Wilson, deputy headteacher of Everton Nursery Schools and Family Centre, said: “This has been a fantastic project that the children have owned and developed themselves from the outset. They have been responsible for each stage of the project and with a little help from our partners, have created a wonderful legacy for everyone to use.”

Children encouraged to be environmentally aware

Mr Wilson claimed there is a strong emphasis on environmental issues at Everton Nursery School and Family Centre and said children are encouraged to be ‘environmentally aware’ from a young age.

He said: “Existing links between the three organisations led to the launch of the exciting environmental project, which takes into account the ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach of children's exploration and discovery. The children were consulted at the early planning phase and asked what outdoor structure they would like to see develop. The children opted for their very own bird hide.”

The development project took one month to complete and formed part of a study in to early year’s education Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

Senior lecturer at LJMU, Nicky Hirst, said: “This project has been embedded into one of our year 2 early years modules for students on the Education Studies and Early Childhood Studies degree programmes.

“It is important that the students see how young children can relate to, and engage with environmental issues from a very young age and how working alongside the children they can really listen to their voices in a reciprocal and respectful way as this is the bedrock of excellent early years provision.”

'Designs and ideas truly come to life'

The group of three and four-year-olds helped with the project taking roles as planners, architects and builders during the creation of the bird hide.

Speaking about how successful the project had been, Mr Wilson added: “As an Eco Ambassador School, we are delighted to have the opportunity to co-construct a project with colleagues from Clan and LJMU in which children's thoughts, designs and ideas truly come to life.

“There have been a range of cross-curricular learning experiences so far in the project which the children have benefited from and which are having a long term impact on their knowledge and understanding of the world that surrounds them.”

Clan Products, the construction company responsible for sourcing the material for the project supplied sustainable blocks of Aircrete composed of 80 per cent recycled materials ensuring that the build was sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Prior to the construction, the children were given the chance to see how the Aircrete blocks were shaped using saws, hammers and other hand tools. Children also spent time visiting local wildlife park Martin Mere to see other bird hides and researching what they wanted theirs to look like.

Director of Low Therm, a division of Clan Products, Chris Hirst, who the children referred to as ‘Bob the Builder,’ said: “The children have really embraced their roles from the early phase of planning and design through construction.

“Everton Nursery School and Family Centre supplied the children with hammers, saws, trowels and hi-vis jackets so they could carry out the work themselves. We supported and guided them but essentially they did the work themselves. They were incredibly enthusiastic and excited to be able to be involved during every phase of the scheme.”

’Positive and rewarding experience’

When the construction company had approved the plans, the children worked with the builders to lay the foundations, create the walls, windows, entrance and the grass topped roof.

Mr Hirst added: “It’s wonderful to see the project come to life and to watch the children realise their efforts, creating something tangible and lasting that they can both use and take great pride in.

“The development of the bird hide using modern methods of construction here has been a positive and rewarding experience and will hopefully inspire some of our young builders and construction professionals of the future.”

The nursery held an official opening event where the children, their families and those involved were invited to see a red ribbon be cut by the children.

The ‘eco project’ was created earlier this year over a period of 4 months and remains a permanent part of the children’s outdoor play and learning where they can use binoculars to look for birds and other wildlife.

The project was recognised at the 2014 Liverpool Echo Environment awards and received a nomination for the ‘Sustainable School of the Year’ award.

As the project has proved to be so successful, the nursery has plans to work with LJMU and Clan Products in 2015 to create another eco-friendly structure, this time planning to create a ‘bug hotel’.


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