Biodiversity is defined as the number and variety of plant and animal species that exist in a particular environmental area or in the world generally. This includes the wealth of wildlife around us, ranging from insects and mammals to wetlands, canals and even ‘wasteland’ can be valuable for wildlife.
Species are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate. Over the past few decades so many species have become extinct that international concern over their protection has become extraordinarily high. Some studies show that about one eighth of known plant species is threatened with extinction. There are numerous factors which contribute towards the loss of biodiversity; many of these are due to human activity. These include overpopulation, deforestation and pollution (air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and global warming or climate change).
Biodiversity for Early Years
The centre or nursery grounds can provide an excellent opportunity to raise children’s awareness and involvement of biodiversity. They offer a safe and potentially exciting facility for outdoor education that can complement classroom-based activities.
Children love to get their hands dirty. A great way for children to learn about biodiversity is for them to interact with the local wildlife. Why not take them on a minibeast hunt around the centre and collect their findings? This will provide children with hands-on experiences where they can see, touch and feel the world around them. Back in the classroom why not discuss with the children what they found, explain the different varieties of wildlife, what they are called and draw pictures?
Another great way to learn about biodiversity is by asking the children to help build wildlife habitats and then observe the range of birds and insects it will attract. This could be something simple such as installing bird boxes and feeders through to creating a pond or minibeast hotels or hedgehog boxes. The broad range of activities surrounding biodiversity, including the activities above, can be linked to the classroom in topics such as science and art, and can help children meet a range of the Early Years Foundation Stage learning outcomes.
Outcomes for pupils
Working as part of a group or class, taking turns and sharing fairly
Finding out about, and identifying, some features of living things, objects and events they observe
Observing, finding out about and identifying features in the place they live and the natural world
Finding out about their environment, and talking about those features they like and dislike
Recognising the importance of keeping healthy, and those things which can contribute to this
Showing curiosity and interest by exploring surroundings
Investigating places, objects, materials and living things by using all the senses as appropriate
There is plenty of additional information available in our Resources & Links section which offers advice and activity ideas.