Trees and QR Codes

I have had an exciting day today working with a small group of year 5 and 6 pupils who have been left behind whilst their classmates have gone on a residential to Buckden. Readers will know that I have long wanted to get schools involved in tree audits so today we started one. We identified that we wanted to photograph the trees, their leaves and possibly their bark, that we wanted to measure their height and their age. We didn’t want to cut the trees down so we came up with a number of ways of estimating these. Data was collected whilst avoiding fox poo, frogs, brambles and the occasional drop of rain. A table was designed in a spreadsheet to do the calculations for us, databases and books searched to identify the trees and posts written to the class blog. Finally, we managed to create some QR codes to point to the class blog. These will be laminated and fastened to some of the trees. We also hope to further edit the blog to add more information as we research the trees.

We still have a long way to go as there are a lot more trees and information we can research but the pupils enjoyed themselves and hopefully learnt a lot. We also have a mystery tree so if you have the time do please please visit their blog and see if you can help or leave a comment.


Printing from an iPad – FingerPrint

Printing from an iPad in schools can be a bit of a pain, especially if you don’t have any Apple computers or AirPrint enabled printers.

One piece of software I have found particularly useful is Fingerprint from Collobus. It runs on a PC and shares whichever printers you want shared to the iPads – so it can be different from the ones shared to PCs. You can also set it up so that it opens a document on the PC, a useful way of transferring a file or image into PDF format and onto the PC at the same time.

It is easy to install, costs under £7 and there is a 30 day free trial available though the trial version puts a water mark across the printout.

I think this is a good piece of software, it is under continual development and I have had no problems with it so far – much easer than setting up the AirPrint software on a PC.

Fair Trade Film Competition – Finalists

Fairtrade Yorkshire and Leeds DEC ran a “Take a Step” competition during Fair Trade fortnight this year where children were invited to show the journey of a Fairtrade product in a fun and interesting way. The finalists have just been announced and you can see the videos on the Leeds DEC Facebook page or Fair Trade Yorkshire site. Have a look at all 5 finalists and vote for your favourite. There are some excellent, humorous and creative entries. Voting ends on Friday 27th April. Since it is Facebook you can also add comments as to what you think of the videos.

I have to declare an interest in that I helped out with one of the videos but in the interest of FairVoting I’ll not tell you which one!

Leeds DEC also have a “Global Advocate Exhibition” consisting of 10 banners that tell inspiring stories of local people making a global difference, and includes stories of pioneering work in the fair trade sector and beyond. This is available for hire and would be suitable if you are hosting an event and would like to provide some inspiring stimulus for your participants. There are also separate teacher packs available. If you are interested and want to know more contact Hannah Dalrymple at or on 0113 3805655

Scientific investigation

What food do birds prefer?

If you have a classroom that looks out onto a green patch, flower bed or hedge why not help your children to do a scientific investigation into what types of food each type of bird prefers? The children can help to plan a fair experiment but at the simplest level the experiment involves putting out piles of different bird food or filling different feeders with different foods and seeing which birds go to which food. Some suggestions for different types of food are:

  • fat or suet balls (you could make your own or buy them)
  • fruit such as apples, pears, etc
  • sultanas and raisins
  • peanuts – these should be in a proper peanut feeder, young birds can choke if they try to eat a whole peanut
  • bread crumbs
  • porridge oats
  • different types of seed eg sunflower (compare hearts with unshelled), Nyjer, etc
  • grated cheese

And don’t forget to supply some water as well! You will also need some bird identification charts -the RSPB do some excellent wall cards.

The children will need to plan the experiment, or a series of experiments (they may compare the same food but put one on the ground and one in a feeder, etc), how to record the results, how they present the results (tables, graphs, pie charts?), how to write a report and how to interpret the results. They also need to identify who their report is going to be for.

Once they have done this why not publish it on your school website or blog, publicise it to other schools and to parents, give a presentation to other classes or parents, send details of the report to the RSPB, bird food producers (they might send you some free samples!), the local press or local shops that sell bird foods. Send me details of your online report and I will publicise it for you.

Having identified the best foods for particular birds why not make some advertising leaflets promoting the feeding of birds, give them out to parents, leave some in your school entrance to show off your work or take them to your local bird food suppliers?

A search on the Internet should also identify other schools and organisations who are reporting about their bird life and nature studies, maybe you can connect up with them and compare results.

If you need help with identifying birds why not ask the parents, most schools will have one or more “twitchers” amongst their community – just warn them not to give all the answers away!

If you do any of this, sit down at home with a cup of tea looking out of your window at your own bird feeders and reflect on what changes have occurred to your class since you introduced them to birds …. And to you!