Teaching in Nature

Teachers' review - Crawford Primary in Cleghorn Glen

We went to the Glen for a second time with four main aims:

Our curricular area focus is R.M.E. The topic for this term has been Special Books. After having investigated special books of the main world religions, we then looked at our special books of Cleghorn Glen- a scrapbook and a photograph album. We shared these books with the new P1s in preparation for our second visit to the Glen and their first. The book sharing session was very special. The P2-7 were reminded of what a wonderful time we had there and an excellent sharing of memories unfolded.

We then visited the Glen - all pupils and lots of adult helpers. Our first stop was the S.N.H. Ranger's special place. We had a snack there and we discussed the changes in the Glen from when we visited in the Spring. An adjective bank was started as pupils described the changes and how they felt about being back at Cleghorn Glen.

We then explored the Glen to find a place suitable for storytelling. We found a lovely site and settled down to listen to a story. The book "Muffin Pigdoom and the Keeper" was chosen by Mrs Wales. She explained that this was a special book of her big son who is now away in the Navy! It was his favourite book when he was a wee boy. The pupils enjoyed the story and lots of follow up discussion took place. We discussed how we felt listening to the story outdoors in this special place.The setting of the story was very similar to Cleghorn Glen and the children all agreed how that made the story seem so much more realistic to them. The pupils thought about the things that made it so special and were encouraged to think about how we can recreate this place in our own school garden.

Lots more exploring took place and it was with sadness we had to leave to return to the school.

The next day the pupils went out into the existing storytelling area in the school garden. A P6 pupil had brought along a special book of his. He had taken it with him to Cleghorn Glen. It was the first book he ever read by himself. He read this to the rest of the school. The pupils then split into their Cleghorn Glen groups and planned the changes they would like to make to our storytelling area. They tried to bring aspects of the Glen to the school garden. Plans were started and this work will be continued next term.

An S4 pupil from Biggar High school had joined us on our visit to the Glen. She took a group of children and created a tree using the adjectives collected there. She was very enthusiastic about her visit with us and showed great initiative in doing this activity with the pupils.

Cleghorn Glen has become a very special place to the pupils and staff of Crawford Primary. We feel a connection with the Glen as it has helped us so much in our R.M.E. work. It has made R.M.E. come alive to the children. Our P 2-7 were particularly excited about sharing theGlen with the new P1 pupils. The P1s were so good on their visit. Mrs Wales,the infant teacher was a little apprehensive about how they would be in this wild area but she was very proud of how they tackled the adventure. I am sure this was partly due to how relaxed the other pupils were there and the good example they set to the younger pupils.

The visits to the Glen have been possible due to the help of staff, parents and villagers. We had 2 retired ladies from the village with us this time and they had a ball. One 70 year old lady was seen scrambling up a hill and saying it wasn't right that her 5 year old partner was steaming ahead!!!! We travel in two mini buses and a Landrover. The infant teacher and the headteacher drive the minibuses and I drive my 7 seater landrover. This all makes it a very enjoyable experience. There is a great atmosphere and excitement on the day of the outing. As this is a very small rural school with 30 pupils in total we have a very good ethos and a great team spirit. This is very evident on the Cleghorn Glen days as all pupils and staff work together to make it a special day. The pupils wrote their own outdoor codes prior to the first visit and they are very responsible on the outing.

On both visits I have tried not to be too prescriptive in the activities. It has been important for the children to do a lot of their own exploring and to feel free in this wonderful learning environment. The aims I have set for both trips have been well and truly met and the children and staff have learned so much more in the process.