Autumn Biodiversity Activities
The Irish landscape is in the middle of its amazing annual colour-change, from the lush greens of the summer to the beautiful oranges, yellows and browns of Autumn. Bright red berries cling in great numbers to so many trees and bushes at the moment. This is the perfect time to be appreciating the abundance in nature, and the perfect time to get outdoors to enjoy some plant identification activities with students, whilst the leaves are still visible; even if only on the ground, and while the last of the fruits and seeds can be seen.
Remember that in order to continue enjoying the outdoors at this time of year, ensure that everyone wraps up in warm and waterproof layers. Learning about the plants and animals at your school should be every bit as pleasurable now, as it was during the summer months!
To learn more about our native trees and how to identify them, you can visit the Tree Council of Ireland’s website.
To learn more about when to collect seeds, and how to grow your own trees, visit the relevant tree links here.
This downloadable activity sheet could be used as an extension relating to any of the following curricula areas:
- Arts/Visual Arts/ Art, Craft &Design – Exploring colours, textures and shapes of leaves and seeds in Autumn to Winter.
- SESE/Biology/Science – relating to photosynthesis, loss of leaves, seasonality, temperate zones, habitats, ecology, plant adaptation, function/uses for fallen leaves etc.
- History/SESE/Environmental Social Studies – trees in Ireland; Explore why there are so few native forests left; Look at how trees influence Irish place names; Learn the Ogham Alphabet.
- Language – parts of a tree, tree names, place names, general landscape vocabulary in English, Irish, French, German etc.
- SESE/Geography/Physical Education – Map reading: set up an orienteering trail, linking the different trees on a map of the school grounds.
Sample Action: An Activity for ‘Increasing Biodiversity at School’
(the following actions are suitable for Winter-time)
– Feed the Birds: to support strong populations of local birds over the cold weather of the winter months, you can provide food for them. If you are unsure about what food and feeders to use, click here; this page offers super advice on all of your best options.
– Start work on bird nest-boxes – if you hope to attract birds to nest in your school grounds within the next year you will need to erect your nest-boxes by mid-winter; ideally before the Christmas holidays, but up until mid-January should be ok. It is important so that the birds have enough time to get used to the boxes being in place.
– Help Hedgehogs Hibernate: make leaf mounds with the fallen Autumn leaves or log piles to create the perfect hedgehog hibernacula!
– Plant trees and Native hedges: the winter is the time to plant trees, but be sure to have your plans and lists in place in advance. You will need to make decisions about what species are appropriate, what location in your school is optimal and what nurseries are nearby.
For more information, check out the Biodiversity materials in the Resources section of the Green-Schools website.