Back to school again

Like a fool, I volunteered for another stint at Leah’s school – this time on Eco Day, so it was bound to be something different.

The whole week at the school had been themed around environmental matters, with everything culminating on this day. Several volunteers were coming in to talk to the children about various things and engage them in some exercises. I was basically to help out whoever needed it, and spent most of my time in the gym hall helping out two lovely ladies from Friends of the Earth (Scotland). Their task was to educate the classes about recycling. This was achieved by getting all of them to bring in a load of recyclable junk from home (plastic bottles, boxes, and so on) and then use them to make things. All very Blue Peter!

Of course, with upwards of thirty kids at a time (at one point nearer fifty) trying to glue things to other things (and – it seemed – themselves), it did get rather hectic. Ah, the memories of that white runny glue and those plastic spatulas. The cunning tricks to get the glue off your fingers (children – wipe it on your trousers; adults – rub your hands together), and the fights and tears over who gets to use the scissors next.

For some reason, robots were a common toy to end up with. Planes and space-ships were next. Quite a few of the children copied some of the examples they’d been given and made little houses or picture frames from boxes.

The best of the lot, in my opinion, was actually the smallest. One girl used the tiniest bit of cardboard, some buttons and a bit of material to make a minute doll. Then a couple of lids and some glue to fashion a dinky car for it to sit in. Wonderful.

The only other class I really got involved in was a film show from a chap who works with the police force in Tayside. He retired 16 years ago… for 6 hours. After he left the main part of the force, they re-recruited him to set up a wing concentrating on wildlife crime and tracking down the filth who abuse animals for “fun” and profit.

His DVD had some rather hard-hitting imagery on it, to be fair, but it did get the children asking questions. Some of them even relevant. One primary 2 wag pondered whether they’d ever caught someone poaching deer with a rocket launcher. To his credit, the guy taking the class didn’t even bat an eyelid and just explained that – no – it was pretty much always rifles, shotguns and dogs.

A handful of primary 7s were outside for most of the day with a couple of locals building a dry-stone wall. After quite a few hours’ work it was maybe 7m long and a metre high. Quite impressive and it does look good in the front of the school grounds. There was also a “compost lady” (which does sound like Marvel or DC scraping the bottom of the barrel) doing the rounds and telling the classes how worms can help turn stale food into crops. Actually, this led one of the P4 children to make a little “worm farm” our of a large plastic bottle in the recycling exercise.

Another busy day and as before I was made to feel utterly welcome. I even got free soup, brownies and doughnuts in the staff room! Again, I have to thank Leah for sorting this with the school and the kids and teachers for making it so much fun. And, of course, the other folk who gave up their time to be there on the same day.

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