A rather wonderful thing has happened at Binky Bear – Woodlands Primary in Carnoustie, Scotland has opened a Binky Bear trail. We spoke with Deputy Head teacher Judith Connor to find out more.
1. Tell us about your school and your part of the UK
Our school is Woodlands Primary School which is in Carnoustie in Angus. Carnoustie is often called ‘the home of golf’. We are very lucky to live in a small town on the coast with a beautiful beach. Woodlands Primary School caters for children from 5 – 11 and we also have a nursery class for 3 – 5 year olds. We are an eco school and are currently working on our 4th green flag and we are also a fairtrade school with a fairachiever award.
2. Tell us about your Binky Bear Trail…
Our Binky Bear Trail is composed of 12 wooden plaques which are fixed around our playground. Each one shows a photograph of Binky, has a little story about what he is up to and suggests an activity to take part in. There is then a rhyme which is written by our eco committee encouraging the reader to look around their environment and find out more. Our trail also contains a map of the trail and a key for our orchard. By following our Binky Bear Trail you will have visited all areas of our playground and taken part in many activities and had lots of fun with your friends.
3. How will the children use it?
The children are using the trail at playtimes and lunchtimes, using sticks and beech nuts to create a beach for Binky. They use old photograph frames and sticks and pebbles to create a friend for Binky and they build with sticks to create Binky a flying machine. They are asked to build up the Bug hotel to give the bugs some shelter and use their hands to measure the largest tyre planter in our garden as Binky’s paws are so small.
4. Which learning outcomes will it meet?
In the beginning we focussed on learning outcomes for writing stories (learn to write sensible sentences by using appropriate punctuation in the correct places and learn to consider subject, purpose and audience) but by the end of the project we had covered learning about mapping, (learn about the features of a map and create a key) transient art, working together, (learn to work within a group, listening to others’ ideas and coming to a compromise) and technology (learn how to use a digital camera).
5. What benefits will the trail bring to the children?
The trail will encourage the children to use all areas of our playground and it will give quieter children activities to engage with during this time. Some children find playtime a concern as they feel they have nothing to do when they are outdoors. We also hope that the children will take the ideas from our trail and build with the natural environment when they are at home and out with their families, we hope it helps to instill a love of nature in our children.
6. What has been the children’s reaction to the trail so far?
The children love the trail and are very busy using it. We launched it to parents and the parents also took part in the activities and we have had some great feedback. Primary 3 will now introduce our nursery children to the trail as part of their transition to Primary 1 and using the big playground.
7. Tell us how you set about creating it?
The Primary 2/3 class met Binky when he came to Woodlands and we read the story ‘Binky in Trouble’. Binky was rather mischievous in our school and he got up to all sorts of nonsense, photocopying himself, playing in the trophy cabinet and eating the staff biscuits. The children wrote their own stories to match the photographs of Binky’s carry on and created a book to give to the head teacher. We then discussed the Binky story books and the fact that Binky loves being outdoors. We thought about making a book about Binky’s adventures in our playground. We looked at a map of the playground and coloured in the different areas, thought about the best places Binky would like to visit and set up and took photographs of Binky in each area.
We used these photographs to write stories about Binky and then added an activity that children could join in. At this point we hoped to laminate pages to hang up in our playground to encourage the children to engage with the outdoor environment but it also became clear that this was going to be very popular and I looked into costings to make the trail a permanent feature. I was also in contact with the author’s Liz and Moira to make sure I was not breaching copyright at any point. We got the go ahead from various committees to make the trail long lasting and my hope is that it will still be in operation when the Primary 2 children are in Primary 7, moving on to the high school.
8. A little bird tells us that Asda gave you a hand, tell us more…
We were very lucky to take part in Asda’s ‘chosen by you, given by us’ voting scheme, our parents and the community really got behind us and we were selected to be given a donation of £200 to help fund our trail. We also held a raffle with 2 spectacular star prizes of Binky books and gift bags which were kindly donated to us. These donations have allowed us to create the Binky Bear trail at a minimal cost to the school, I can’t thank these people enough and I am sure it will be very worthwhile.
How did you hear of Binky Bear?
I love bears and I saw Binky on Facebook, researched some more and discovered his waistcoat matches our school uniform, I purchased a Binky, used him in class and have not looked back since.
10. What is it about Binky Bear and his books that appeals so much to the children?
Binky is a very cute little bear who has a very mischievous streak, he is fun loving and loves the outdoors. When I bought him he sent me a lovely email to introduce himself to me and it was this personal touch which gave him extra character and gave us the inclination to adopt him as a member of our Woodlands team, he feels like one of the family and is known to all of the children and staff. Thank you so much to Liz and Moira for their support throughout this project and beyond.
And a big thank you to the staff and children of Woodlands Primary for making Binky Bear part of their school.