On Muddy Monday, Reception went on a trip to West Boldon Lodge, an Environmental Education Centre. The day started with an exciting double-decker coach trip to the centre. We loved the bus, especially our turn on the top deck!

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At the lodge, there were two parts to the days, one a Five Senses outdoor exploration and the other a land and water minibeast hunt.

Five Senses outdoor exploration: John taught us how to use our eyes and a ‘sky eye’ mirror to look up at the treetops. We had to put the mirror under our noses and suddenly we could see the tree canopy. It felt like we were walking through the treetops.

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The second sense we investigated was our noses, which were used to make smelly cocktails! We gathered lots of leaves (especially garlic leaves), dirt and smells from nature, stirred them in our cocktail glasses with a handy stick and smelt them. When we’d drunk in the smell for long enough, we celebrated; ‘Cheers!’ we said, and tossed the mixture over our shoulders.

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Taste was a very exciting sense to discover outdoors. We watched John light a campfire with flint and cotton wool. We learnt how to stay safe in the circle and avoid the smoke. Then we used the sense of taste to sample marshmallows, cooked over the dying embers.

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We used our ears to hear the birds calling through the trees and listen to creatures in the woodland floor.

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To explore touch, we split into small groups, blindfolded someone,  and led them to a tree. They used their hands to feel the texture, size and contours of the branches. Then once spun in a circle, with the blindfold removed, they had to find that tree again, by how it felt. It was tricky!

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Minibeast Hunt: The minibeast hunt started on land, were we used bug pots with magnifying glass on top to gather bugs. We used ‘gathering sticks’ AKA:paintbrushes, to gently encourage the insects in. We talked in a group about the slugs, snails, worms, beetles, spiders, ants, centipedes etc that we found.

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After that we went pond dipping, using nets to catch and investigate pond life in trays. We found fish, tadpoles, water boatmen, damselfly nymph and more!

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Honeybees: As a final treat, West Boldon Lodge showed us their honeybees, making honeycomb. They were building up the layers of wax on a board, then the queen bee would lay eyes and the bees would fill up the waxy comb with honey.

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Lunch time was another highlight for us, especially for those used to school dinners. We had a wonderful day and learnt about respecting nature, species of minibeasts, how to use our senses outdoors and where honey comes from.

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Home time at last, we had a few contented, sleepy children on the bus!

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