Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 7

Creative Inspiration

An invitation to take part in ‘Seeds of Change’.

Local: The Walthamstow Garden Party is still on; this year you have to get more active in making your own fun. Artillery’s Same Sky programme offers lots of ideas to get creative and get outdoors.

National: This November a virtual Youth Climate Summit is taking place. Students can enter a competition to design a logo that will be used on all the event information. Deadline 15th July.
Students can also get active by encouraging their teachers to sign the school up to take part.

Summer Action:
Do you feel inspired by imaginative responses to difficult issues?

Who needs galleries?!
Write a poem, decorate a powerful quote or design a placard for your front window. Global Climate Strike provides downloadable graphics, fonts and templates for Just Recovery Art.

More resources on racism, anti-racism and climate justice

Following the previous episode we’ve been sent or discovered many more eye-opening, inspiring and heart felt resources on this subject.

A Parent’s Guide to Black Lives Matter has activities and tips including ‘How do I explain George Floyd to my children?’ and ‘A Guide to Allyship’. A concise summary of a difficult subject for any age.

Lesson plans for parents or teachers:
Global Dimensions specialise in bringing a global dimension to education. Search key words such as ‘racism’, ‘slavery’, ‘black history’ and ‘colonialism’ on the website to find resources such as Ending Slavery- an unfinished business (KS 4)

For young people and adults:
A 4 min film by We Are POCC features first and second generation immigrants discussing the impacts of climate change on their ancestral homes and the UK.

Have You Heard George’s Podcast? (approx. 25 min each) – a moving mix of storytelling, music, fact and fiction that delves into present day community, identity, race and inequality.

Black Lives Matter art on a boarded up window in Chicago by Mary Fedorowski

Connecting with… soil

Soil can easily be forgotten beneath our feet but it is vitally important. Soil 101 (2.5 min) by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation introduces why.

Worried about children playing in mud?
Mud, mud, glorious mud (2 min read) by Badger Forest School Bristol explains how harmless bacteria in soil can be good for us (children and adults).

Summer Action:
Perfect for a window herb garden – Make your own very mini compost heap in a 2 litre plastic bottle.

Already growing some veg? – Make some organic liquid fertiliser in a plastic bottle.

Have some outside space? – Make a simple DIY wormery and recycle your kitchen scraps.

The Wellcome Explorify site has lots of science focused activities. To discover more about soil check out ‘Bottoms Up’ about dung beetles (age 5-7) and ‘Tiny bits and pieces’ (ages 7-9). Free sign up to this site required.

Discover different types of soil in your garden and/or local park using Garden Organic Soil Sorting Activity sheets (lower KS-2). More information for adults to support this activity here.

S-Kun making a dorodango at Aiiku Gakuen in Tokyo

Summer Challenge:
The Japanese art of shiny mud balls  – hikaru dorodango – is a delightful combination of play and mindfulness. Follow this guide and see how spherical and polished you can make your ball.

Climate stripes – Infographic by Climate Lab Book depicting annual global temperatures from 1850-2017
The natural process of the carbon cycle with added human made emissions.

Exploring… carbon

The carbon cycle is one of the essential cycles for life on earth. These animations for children and young people (and old people too) explain how it works and how it has been disrupted.
Wake Up, Freak Out’ explains terms like tipping point, albedo effect and feedback loops.

For children:
Nasa Climate Kids answers ‘Why is carbon important?

Discover the power of solar energy by making a solar oven using materials such as an old pizza box and tin foil.

Summer Goal:
Use the WWF Footprint Calculator to estimate your annual carbon emissions. Try doing it for before and during COVID-19 lockdown.

Does it change? Are there things you can do or not do to keep your carbon footprint lower in the future

For older students/ adults:
The phrase ‘net zero carbon’ is used a lot. This BBC bitesize article explains ‘What would carbon neutrality mean for the UK?

Carbon capture and storage is one method proposed to enable the UK to reach net zero carbon by 2025. Watch this video (2 min) on The Hard Facts behind Carbon Capture and Storage.
Discuss the benefits of this technology. Can you think of any potential negative consequences that the film doesn’t talk about?

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 6


Amnesty International highlights five inspirational young women of colour fighting climate change around the world.  

Ugandan climate youth activist Vanessa Nakate speaks to Democracy Now! about the effect of the climate emergency on Uganda. Nakate fought for inclusion of black voices in climate action after she was cropped out of a photo with climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Wretched of the Earth is a grassroots collective of indigenous, black & brown climate activists. Temperature Check is their new series of Instragram live talks suitable for young people.

Vanessa Nakate – Ugandan climate youth activist

Learning & unlearning
for all ages

We are never too young or old to learn about race.
This article addresses Talking Race With Young Children and you can find a comprehensive list of anti-racism educational resources in this googledoc.

Black Lives Matter at School (US organisation) has a downloadable creative activity pack about Black Lives Matter Principles.

Summer Goal:
Read a factual book that educates you about racism and a fiction book that can make you imagine ‘what if?’ history and present were different.

For an anti-racism reading list and much more for educators check out WEN Recommends Unlearning.
This article by Layla F Saad discusses some anti-racist books for children and teens.

Watch… a 3 min animation answering the question ‘What is intersectionality?’

Listen to…Black Nature Narratives are podcasts about black perspectives on the natural world.

The Colour Green is a podcast exploring links between climate change, race, nature and social justice from the perspectives of people of colour in the UK. You can listen to Judy Ling Wong, the president of Black Environment Network in conversation with Lola Young.

Summer Action:
Read about and sign this petition to add books that  ‘highlight our current society’s diversity, inequalities and opportunities for change’ to the GCSE reading lists.

The two books that should be included in the GCSE reading list.
Deja Perkins (Twitter @naturallywild__) illustrated for #BlackBirdersWeek CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY CASEY GIRARD

Connecting with … Black & Asian role models in sustainability and STEM

Aged 19 Daze Aghaji stood as an independent ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’ candidate in the Member of European Parliament (MEP) elections in 2019. In this film (2 min) she explains why she wants to bring a fresh face to politics and in an interview with Fashion Revolution she talks about fashion’s role in the climate emergency.

Prem Gill is a Polar Explorer. Gill started the group, Polar Impact, an inclusive network of ethnic minorities & allies in the Polar Research community. 

Jessica Watkins, Black American Geologist and NASA astronaut could make the first footprints on Mars. In this interview with SyFy Fangrrls she discusses being a woman in STEM, diversity among astronauts, and her work with the Mars Rover.

May 31 – June 6 was #BlackBirdersWeek. This video by Corina Newsome shows the next generation of black nature enthusiasts “that they are welcome, and that this space belongs to them too. #BirdingWhileBlack. 

Summer Action:
Are you Black? Do you love nature? Post a picture of yourself on twitter in your favourite outdoor place with #BlackInNature

Birdwatch in your own bedroom with #BlackWomenWhoBird @BlackAFInSTEM with the Monterey Bay Aquarium via the Aquarium’s live Aviary Cam!   

Learn about the 17 year old Bristolian youth activist Mya-Rose Craig aka @BirdGirlUK who set up the project Black2Nature in articles from The Bristol Cable and the BBC.

Summer Action:
Get ready to get birding with a short video of BEGINNER Birder Tips by #BlackBirdersWeek organiser Beanie Jean.

Zamzam Ibrahim – President of Students Organising for Sustainability UK and the National Union of Students

Exploring… Environmental movements around the world

The Greenbelt Movement
Professor Wangari Maathai started the Green Belt Movement to help rural Kenyan women whose streams were drying up and had to walk further and further to get firewood. Maathai became the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Watch this video to learn more about Maathai and the movement. 

You can listen to the children’s book Seeds of Change about Wangari Maathai.

Summer action:
In many countries around the world it is traditional to plant a tree on special occasions. Could you plant a tree or something edible to grow on your next birthday?

Standing Rock
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the United States have been fighting against an oil pipeline since 2016. This 2 min video tells Stories from Standing Rock of some of the thousands of people, young and old, and members of hundreds of different tribes who protested against completing the pipeline which would desecrate ancestral lands and threaten the water supply. In March 2020 there was a significant victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

For younger children –  Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock is a book by Aslan Tudor, an 8 year old Native American boy who protested at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. 

Summer reflection:
Would you ever join a protest camp like the one on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation? Describe the issue or event that would motivate you to protest outdoors and around the clock regardless of the weather.

Women planting tree seeds in Kenya
A page from ‘Young Water Protectors’ by Aslan Tudor, an 8 year old Native American boy
Members of Black Rootz at Wolves Lane Community Food Hub

Discover… food growing projects that support local communities of colour

Ian Solomon-Kawall and Randy Mayers developed May Project Gardens in South London to address poverty and disempowerment by providing affordable and collective solutions for people to live more sustainably. This video describes how.

The Ubele Initiative is an African Diaspora led social enterprise with a ‘mission to contribute to the sustainability of the African Diaspora community.’  It helps support Wolves Lane Community Food Hub And Market and Black Rootz, the first multi-generational black led growing project in the UK.

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 5


Looking at the present
Learn how to make a quadrat to observe and record what plants and insects are in a specific area.
You can save some common flowers and leaves by making a home made flower press following instructions from South London Botanical institute.

Looking to the future
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has developed activities to inspire you to Draw your Zero Carbon View and hold a Family Summit to celebrate the earth.

Thames21 use quadrats collecting Big Wet Wipe Count data.

Connecting with oceans…

Seals in the Thames Estuary – photo for the ZSL annual seal survey.

Scroll down, down and down even further to discover what animals are found in the deepest depths of the Deep Sea.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are running a Digital Ocean School with new resources plus facebook and instagram live sessions every Tuesday. Tues 2nd June is plastic pollution followed by circular economies on Tues 9th June.

Spring Action:
Take part in the SAS #ReturnToOffender digital campaign – photograph branded items of litter you see and share on social media to highlight which companies are the worst offenders and help SAS demand change.

Ocean Wise from the Vancouver Aquarium has creative activities and resources for ages 3 – 18 years old, including self directed Ocean Literacy courses for students and educators.

A major threat to our oceans, and the animals and people that rely on them is ocean acidification. The video titled How Carbon Dioxide Kills Ocean Life (3 mins) on this page explains what this means and offers a solution.

Most street drains flow straight into the nearest river or ocean.

Explore… Rights

Human Rights:
The UNICEF Rights for Respecting Schools programme is publishing an Article of the Week remote learning pack. It is designed for teachers but parents can tailor the presentations and activities as well.
Discover Human Rights Stories by Amnesty International with work sheets for younger and older primary school learners.

Spring Challenge:
The last article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Article 30 – ‘No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights’
Before you click the link, think about, or have a conversation about what other fundamental rights you think humans should have.

Write a list a what rights you think animals and nature should have.

Rights of the Planet:
The planet or ‘mother earth’ has rights too.

This video (1 min) poetically sums up Bolivia’s Law for Mother Nature.

For secondary students – The Young People’s Trust for the Environment have a set of fact sheets explaining the term ‘ecocide’ – crimes against the natural world.
For older students – The Stop Ecocide website has a new video called ‘Can You Imagine…?

Painting of Mother Earth by Jenness Cortez Perlmutter
City lights in Northern Europe – image taken from space

Learning resources…

For adults: Future Learn hosts 60 free online courses by universities and organisations on nature and the environment.

For all ages: NASA at home has a whole world of activities, podcasts, e-books and virtual tours to explore.

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 4


Thinking big:
For older students – UK Student Climate Network has just launched Podcast for Planet on spotify and iTunes. First up is a discussion about the Green New Deal.
A Climate Assembly has been taking place with 110 citizens from across UK. Many of the presentations given to inform their decision making are available online.

Small is beautiful:
For children/ families – Join with #windsofchange and make a beautiful wind spinner, wind sock, kite or other ‘UFO – unifying flying object’ to share a message of what change you would like to happen.

Rainbow windsock fish – #windsofchange

Connecting with farming…

A lamb from Romshed Farm, image courtesy of the Country Trust

See behind the scenes of Romshed Farm with the Country Trust live webcam (on their homepage). On last viewing it was showing swallows nesting but it moves to where the action is; lambs being born, the chicken shed, a farmer checking animals’ health in the yard. It is surprisingly meditative.

Spring Action:
Try some very small scale farming on the window ledge by following this guide to growing nutritious microgreens indoors.

The Countryside Classroom Home Education Hub have collated resources about growing wheat and producing bread with lots of recipes.

Jamie’s Farm has a series of short youtube films designed to bring farming to you.

It isn’t just food that grows on farms, cotton for making our clothes is produced in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Discover the Story of Cotton by the Fairtrade Foundation (11 min – KS3 ) and other Home Learning Challenges about food grown in the global south.  

Spring Goal:
Cook a meal using only local, in season ingredients. Use the BBC Good Food Seasonality Table to find links to recipe suggestions for in season produce.
Print a seasonal food poster for your kitchen.

Intensively farmed cotton being harvested in the USA

Explore… Mental Health & Bereavement

We can all have mental ill health just like we can all have physical ill health, but it is much harder to see and understand. Learning about mental health when you are healthy and happy means you can support others and look out for your own mental health in the future.

We all have mental health’ animation with accompanying resources gives 11 – 14 year olds a language to talk about mental health and some tools for self-care.

Young Minds provides detailed advice to young people on ‘looking after yourself’ and Mind offers lots of ideas on ‘looking after wellbeing’ including learning something new and having a balanced diet.

Tragically many people are experiencing a bereavement currently.
The NHS website offers advice on many subjects including bereavement and young people. Hope Again is especially for young people who are dealing with the loss of someone close to them and the Counselling Directory has collated some resources to support grieving children.  

Spring Challenge:
Death Cafes are voluntarily run events for people to drink tea, eat cake and become more comfortable discussing death. It is a difficult conversation to face but try sitting with a friend and talking about how you feel about death, and living.

Five Steps to Wellbeing that everyone can take
Upcycling for Nature – image & resource from Sustainable Learning

Learning resources…

Practical Action’s STEM Challenges such as ‘squashed tomato challenge’ and ‘regreen the desert’ are for ages 5 – 16 years. Many of them with learning guides for parents and carers.

With a focus on younger years, the RSPB has lots of creative Wild Challenge activities such as ‘upcycle for nature’ and ‘build a minibeast hotel’.

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 3

Inspiring conversations

Local: Discover your family’s stories – Linsey Wynton’s ‘Small World’ online tutorials teach all ages how to interview and record the biographical story of a family member or friend.

Local: Take your productions skills to the next level with tutorials and top tips for entering Suntrap Centre’s Home Safari Film Challenge.

Global: This video for children and adults on the ‘Secret for Talking about Climate Change’ gives important tips which are useful for all sorts of difficult conversations.

Small World project – part of WF Virtual Culture Programme
A homemade ScareMow for the No Mow May campaign.
A British Hedgehog. Image from The Ecologist

Connecting with wildlife…

Azure Hawker Dragonfly

Without the noise of busy city life have you been noticing the beautiful soundtrack that the birds provide for your daily exercise or when in your garden?

The RSPB Bird Identifier site has 408 birds organised by key features to help you learn the ID of the birds you see.

Spring Goal:
Identify the birds in your neighbourhood and take part in the RSPB Breakfast Birdwatch, 8 – 9am daily. Share on social media the birds you can see #breakfastbirdwatch

No Mow May: Every flower matters
Join Plantlife’s ‘No Mow May’ campaign to learn to why every flower matters.  
Poor misunderstood ‘weeds’ are just plants in the wrong place with a whole host of uses and benefits for humans and wildlife alike.

Use Plantlife’s spotter sheets to get to know wild flowers growing in your neighbourhood.

Spring Action:
Make a ScareMow to show your support for our wild flowers

It is Hedgehog Awareness Week, 3rd – 9th May. The number of hedgehogs has declined dramatically since the 1950’s to less than 1 million. Find out how you can help our prickly friends the British Hedgehogs and become a Hedgehog Champions on Hedgehog Street.

The good news is there are still populations across the country including London – find out where on the Wild London interactive hedgehog map.

Spring Actions:
Sign this petition calling on the government to ensure that every new housing development builds ‘Hedgehog highway’ holes, so hedgehogs can roam safely between our gardens and neighbourhoods.

Write to your local authority parks team to ask what they are doing to help hedgehog populations. Stopping pesticide use, creating wildlife friendly areas and making hedgehog highway holes compulsory are three things you could ask them to do.

A subject to explore… Peat

Last month was ‘Peat Free April’. These two short videos explain what peat is and why it is important to go ‘peat free’.

It can take over 1 year for peat to grow by 1mm, so is peat a ‘renewable’ or non-renewable’ resource? This article by Friends of the Earth explains why it is non-renewable and gives gardeners a list of peat-free alternatives. This video called ‘British Soil is a Battlefield over Peat’ shows two sides of the argument.

Spring Action:
If you think peat use should be stopped, find out what you can do to support Garden Organic’s ‘For Peat’s Sake’ campaign here

BBC bitesize has a summary of how human activity affects peat bogs and a glossary to stretch everyone’s vocabulary.

Peat harvesting in Ireland

Urban fox. Image: Matthew Maran, NHM highly commended award

Learning resources…

Zoological Society London (ZSL) provide a range of learning activities that link wildlife to their environment, arranged by KS1 – KS4.

BBC Bitesize have a lesson on Urban Wildlife to Spot During Lockdown as well as many other sessions on environmental and social issues – including geography with Sir David Attenborough

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 2

Get inspired

Local rainbows:
The Mill in Walthamstow St James Street is filling their window with a handprint rainbow.
To add yours, send it via email, in the post or put it through their letter box.  Find out more on the twitter @TheMillE17

Window rainbows:
Celebrate National Poetry Month by writing a rainbow poem dedicated to good health for people and planet.

National exhibition:
The Loving Earth project invites you to talk about and reflect on some difficult questions and make a textile or paper panel 30x30cm for their travelling exhibition.

Rainbow made of hand prints at The Mill, E17
Rainbow poem celebrating nature, from

Connecting with rivers…

A moorhen feeding it’s chick. Image credit: Paul Cecil

What is a duck’s favourite food??
Hint: it isn’t bread!
Find out from the Canal and River Trust what a duck really wants for dinner and how to keep river wildlife healthy.

Do you know where your closest river is?
There might be a small stream or brook closer than you think.

Spring action: Find your nearest waterway or a river you haven’t visited before on a map

If you can walk to a waterway for your daily exercise think about using all your senses (except taste!); what can you see, smell and hear?

This Sound Map of London’s Waterways gives an aural glimpse of places all over London’s vast river network.

Try remembering or recording the sounds and turning them into a poem or short story about your trip to the river. The Eden Rivers Trust share ideas and worksheets for ‘Secret Sounds’ activities.

For all ages, the South East Rivers Trust are releasing a weekly art challenge.

Spring goal: Learn to identify some common waterway animals. Drawing them can help you recognise them.

Adults who want to know more about the wonders and challenges faced by rivers can tune into the Rivers Trust podcast Rambling about Rivers.

A subject to explore…
International Workers Day, 1st May

All over the world today people are going to work in potentially dangerous conditions. International Workers Day is about recognising the importance of workers all over the globe and raising awareness for workers’ rights.

Have May Day explained in a 1 minute film and discover how countries around the world celebrate 1st May (2 mins).
Three stories from the USA explain why International Workers Day is still important and there is a lot more on this subject to read, listen to and watch.

Social Action:
In your household, have a conversation about workers close to home and abroad that you are grateful for.

Pick at item in your kitchen and try to list all of the jobs that were required to makes this product, from raw materials to your home.

Global Dimensions share information about the 1st of May and links to related resources. Their newsletter also contains activity ideas for many other upcoming significant dates.

Illustration of the ideal working routine, from the union billboard
May Pole dancing – another May Day tradition

Beautiful paintings of a Grey Heron and Eel Elvers

Learning resources…

The World’s Largest Lessons shares beautiful story books for primary aged children free online.

If your whistle has been whetted for activities about waterways the Rivers Trust website is overflowing with resources from many of their members – something for all ages.

Spring into Action

Activities for lockdown learning: episode 1

Get inspired

Thinking global – In a 4 minute film #naturenow Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot explain the need for nature based solutions.

Acting localGrow yummy pea shoots with a recycled plastic carton and a sunny window ledge, no compost necessary.
Discover the magic of how spring onions re-grow from the trimmings just in a pot of water.

Restore: a nature based solution in #naturenow
A London Plane labelled by Rachel Summers aka @curiouswilds

Connecting with trees…

A lemur in a tropical forest in Madagascar

What trees are up your street?

Find out if the trees on your street are on the London Street Trees map.

Spring goal: Can you learn 5 tree ID’s?

Check out the Woodland Trust Tree ID App. It is perfect for turning your walk in the park into a game of discovery.

The Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives Tree ID for Kids (and adults) has printable resources to help you identify a tree by its leaves, bark, twigs, nuts and seeds.

Spring action: Share the new tree name knowledge

Walthamstow resident and Forest School leader Rachel Summers has been labelling local trees with chalk on pavement.

Everyone can give this a go.

An issue to explore… Palm oil

Find out about one of the most common ingredients in the food in our cupboards in this Ethical Consumer podcast on palm oil (21 mins). Suitable for teens upwards.

For upper Key Stage 3 students – ‘palm oil, you, me and orangutans’ guides you through researching the effects of palm oil production on the rainforest.

For the family – get ingredient savvy.
Palm oil is in a mind blowing number of food and households products. Check the ingredients list on 10 items in your kitchen and bathroom.

  • If they contain palm oil is there something else you could replace it with?
  • Are there any logos such as such as fair trade? Check this guide to food labels to find out what they mean.
Orangutans and many other animals live in the fragile rainforest habit.
Palm oil is harvested from the fruits of these palm trees
Young insect detectives at the Suntrap Centre

Learning resources…

Waltham Forest’s Suntrap Forest Centre share imaginative outdoor activities for ages 3 – 11 years old – Suntrap at Home.

Join the Fashion Revolution, they offer resources to make us think, understand and rethink about the clothes we wear.