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The Mount Stewart Schools

Year 2

Autumn/Winter Session - Pearl, Topaz, and Sapphire

RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch


Sapphire took to the field to take part in the RSPB's birdwatching campaign. We learned about different birds and their songs, then went out to see who we could spot. Blue tits and magpie were the most commonly identified birds, though we did hear a robin and some great tits singing "Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!" Our results were then sent in to the RSPB and will be used by the British Trust for Ornithology to monitor bird populations across the UK.

Great Tit

Even the birds are calling us! "Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!"

European Robin

This is the bird you will often hear singing you awake in the morning, it is one of the earliest risers. City robins have adjusted the volume of their songs to compete with increased background noise in urban centres. The loudest recorded robin song was 95 decibels - that's the same volume as a chainsaw at a metre away!

Blue Tit (Eurasian)

Often spotted flitting from tree to tree and chirping away to eachother. A common birdfeeder visitor.

Magpie (Eurasian)

These intelligent birds have a body the size of the soda can, and are easily identified by their harsh, noisy cries. They are not thieves of shiny things (that's the Australian Magpie) and are actually afraid of them, though they are quite curious birds. They also have incredibly beautiful green and blue tail feathers, if you ever get close enough to take a look!
Great Tit - black head and black chest strap
European Robin
Blue Tit - blue head and smaller than Great Tit
Eurasian Magpie - scientific name is Pica Pica!

Clearing the Garden for Spring Planting


We are optimistic about spring coming and the beginning of planting season. As our garden beds had been sleeping since October it was time to start clearing out the weeds and leaves in preparation for a new growing season. We like to say that weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place, and in this case, the vegetable beds were the wrong place. Out they go! Finding worms and centipedes was a bonus, though occasionally we got a little too competitive when we dug one up. Fortunately no worms were harmed...

One worm, two students...

Dam Building


Topaz took advantage of all the wet weather we've had lately and took some lessons from the best dam builders around; beavers! We watched a video on how beavers use different materials such as mud, sticks, and stones to create a solid structure that will hold back water. Then, we went out and tried to build our own. They were all tested at the end with varying levels of success, and everyone agreed that they are very clever and resourceful to do it using only their teeth and paws!

Trying out different ideas - maybe a bit bigger?
Only a little water trickled through beneath here
A little more time and this would have been solid!
Our most successful dam at holding water.

Living and Non-living Things


Pearl class has been learning about characteristics that make something living, non-living (never alive,) or dead (was living but is no longer.) Examples of living things were plants, animals, and people, where non-living things were plastic chairs, the computer, and bricks. There was a thoughtful discussion about if items like a pencil were dead or just non-living, as they are made out of wood which used to be a live tree. Some thought provoking questions for a Tuesday afternoon!


We then went outside to investigate if there were more living or non-living things outside in the science area. Items were recorded under the heading living or non-living on a chart on the fence. Living things such as centipedes, flowers, and slugs, were far more interesting than rocks and soil, and in the end the list of living things was much longer. It was concluded there is a wider variety of living things than non-living things in nature.

So many woodlice!
"Can I take him home?"

Natural Dyeing


Pearl class used their knowledge of simple geometric shapes to create patterns on fabric with masking tape. Then they collected different materials outside to crush and rub over their fabric to create natural dyes. Blackberries were a particular favourite. We are looking forward to spring so Topaz and Sapphire can have their turn.

Animals and their habitats


We have been looking at different animals in the UK and the things they need to be healthy and successful. Students identified the four basic needs; food, water, shelter, and space. We focused on shelter and asked sutdents to create an animal from the UK, then build them a home to keep them warm and comfortable. Animals ranged from mini-beasts such as spiders and caterpillars, to larger animals such as birds and hedgehogs. 


Habitat homes were even more varied. Some opted for a natural home design while others went for a more non-traditional, yet creative, option. There was a lot of imagination in using natural materials to create their animals, and the results were impressive.


Sapphire class had the added challenge of a chilly and damp day. But they demonstrated resourcefulness using puddles to moisten their clay when it was drying, and incredible resilience in the face of less than ideal weather. In the end we went in a bit early to warm up our hands, but we had a great time!


Don't look if you're afraid of spiders!
The beginning of something interesting
Even the teachers had a go.

Opposites in Nature


We don't often notice the small differences in nature. Year 2 have been identifying opposite characteristics in objects found outdoors. Some are fairly obvious, but others are more subtle. Popular pairings were hard vs. soft, long vs. short, and rough vs. smooth. The most creative? Something vs. nothing!

half vs. whole - a little bit of math thrown in
dirty vs. clean - does that apply in nature?
something vs. nothing!
Can you guess the opposites here?