We have been working with Bramley Junior School to help them create a more pleasant playground environment for their preschool and reception children. The school is on a very busy A road with the playground parallel to it. Huge lorries, tractors and many other vehicles drive past daily making it, up until recently, an extremely noisy play area. So the school installed sound proof fencing and brought Roots for the Future to soften it with trees.
We held two planting workshops. One in the morning with Year 1, and another after lunch with Year 2 and Reception, the older children partnering with the younger ones. As with all our workshops, we started the session sharing all the wonderful facts we know about trees. For such young children, they knew a lot! I can’t remember when I learnt about oxygen and carbon dioxide, but I am pretty sure I wasn’t at infant school.
There are many amazing things that trees do for us. One of those amazing things is that they clean our air of pollutants by trapping them on their bark and in their leaves. So not only will the trees we planted at Bramley school soften the hard landscape of the playground, they will make the air healthier for the children while they enjoy the outdoors.
As the playground is concrete, we had to use planters for the little trees to be planted in. We planted Beech and Hornbeam to make mini hedges in the troughs. Even though they are deciduous, Both these tree types will retain their leaves when they are regularly cut to create a year-round screen.
The children really got stuck in. We don’t provide gloves for a number of reasons, the main one being that getting soil under our finger nails is good for us. Some studies show it acts as a natural anti-depressant. And these children really loved competing with me to see if their hands would get as dirty as mine.
Apart from softening playgrounds, absorbing pollutants and CO2 and bringing us oxygen, the other reason we should be planting trees in schools is that children learn better when they can see trees outside their classroom windows. A study conducted by the University of Illinois proved that students who had a green window view (a view with a green space or a tree present) recovered from mental fatigue faster and were able to pay attention longer and therefore retain information better.
If you want to improve your school’s outdoor space, get in touch.