John Muir Award – Primary 5



The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focussed on wild places.   It encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for nature, landscape, and the natural environment in wild places.  We have been undertaking our award at our local ‘wild place’, the local woodland next to Hawthornvale Path.   To achieve the award, we have to meet the four challenges which are to Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share.  For more information on the John Muir Award, please take a look at this video.  As you scroll further down this page you will see what we have been up to to meet the four challenges.




Primary 5 have made a great start to their award. We began by learning about the John Muir award and John Muir himself.  Before going outside we had a think about what a wild place is.  We also looked at local cycle maps to locate the woodland.




So far we have had great fun exploring the woodland. We are getting used to the different gathering calls we need to know to stay safe in the woodland and we have used our senses to explore the different sounds and sights of the woodland. We have also enjoyed playing games in the woods and having time to roam freely.

In the next few weeks we will begin to learn more about the wildlife living and growing in the woodland and begin to think about what we can do to help towards the conservation of the area.

Water of Leith Visitor Centre

As part of our award we have also visited the Water of Leith Visitor Centre where we learned more about the woodlands and how Scotland first became covered in woodlands. We discussed what trees need to grow and survive and were amazed to learn how trees can communicate with each other!   We learned where the source and the mouth of the Water of Leith begins and ends.  We also had fun doing a bug hunt and then making our own junk bugs.  More photos to follow!

Tree identification

This week we learned more about the different trees we have in our woodland.  We did ‘meet a tree’ activity where we were blindfolded by a partner and led to a tree.  We had to get to know the tree by using our senses of touch and smell.  Once back to base, we then had to remove our blindfolds and try and find the tree.  It was quite tricky!  Once we had found the tree we had to use tree ID guides to work out the type of tree.  This was quite tricky for some trees, as the leaves were only just beginning to show.  We were able to use our twig ID sheets to help us as well and also by looking at old leaves which had fallen from the tree.  We found sycamore, hawthorn, beech, alder, elm, lime and holly trees.

What’s that bird?

We had fun this week listening to the different birds in the woodland.  We found a sheltered spot and used our binoculars and ID sheets to try and identify the different birds we could see and hear.  We also used a bird song app to help us identify some of the birds.  We spotted or heard, blue tits, great tits, robins, wrens, pigeons, blackbirds and magpies.

We also did some litter picking on the way to the woodland and in the woodland and collected two black bin bags full of litter.   We will be taking the litter pickers with us every week to try and keep it free of litter.

Den building

We have had great fun working together to create our own dens.  We used our team work skills to construct  dens and some of us even came up with a system of buying various items for our dens by using a woodland currency!  Some of us also decorated our dens with pretty bluebells.  As part of our challenge to build a den, we also had to try and identify the trees around our den.


We finished off our award with hot chocolate in the woods where we have had so much fun exploring!  We used a kelly kettle to boil the water and enjoyed adding fuel to the fire to heat the fire up.  We were amazed at how quickly the water began to boil!



Conservation challenge

We used an OPAL survey to carry out a bug count.  OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) is a UK-wide citizen science initiative that allows you to get hands-on with nature and the information collected is then sent to them to analyse and use towards research.  During our bug count we were excited to find ‘Species Quest Invertebrates’ including a leopard slug, a shield bug and a devils coach horse.  The information we collected for this survey will contribute to important invertebrate research.


We also worked with the Water of Leith Visitor Centre who kindly gave up their time to work with us on some conservation tasks at the woodland near to Connaught Place.  This included clearing back invasive species, cutting back brambles, weaving willow into the willow fence and litter picking.  We enjoyed using the secateurs and pulling out invasive plants and it was great to get the opportunity to help look after the area.


We have been keep a record of our John Muir Award by creating these fabulous learning journals!





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