We took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch always takes place in January. It allows the RSPB to assess how wildlife is coping.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/everything-you-need-to-know-about-big-garden-birdwatch/

It’s Sunday afternoon, and Bethany and I are sitting in the gazebo in our garden, wrapped up in coats and blankets. We have coffee, hot chocolate and chocolate brownies to hand.


So far, we have only seen two seagulls flying overhead. We also heard a bird’s claws scrambling about on the gazebo roof, but we couldn’t see what it was. We heard a crow in a nearby garden earlier. It’s snowing lightly and very cold.


To stave off boredom, Bethany is now drawing a Robin in pencil in her drawing pad. I have drawn one too. We often get robins in our garden. But not so far today.

I put nuts and birdseed on the grass earlier. They aren’t tempting the birds to our garden yet.

It’s quiet, although we can hear birds calling. I don’t know if we will see any birds this hour. It’s snowing a little.

A flying insect passes nearby. I thought that it was too early in the year for them?

We are probably scaring the birds by being outside, but this is more fun than watching from the warm indoors. It feels like more of an adventure. My feet are getting cold.

A single starling flies past, twirling and showing off. It’s unusual to see one by itself: they are usually in flocks of 20 or more.

The snow is getting a bit heavier now.

There go some seagulls: 1, 2, 3.

I am enjoying sitting outside and looking and listening. It’s peaceful. A silent snowy Sunday afternoon.

We both eat a brownie.

There are some perfect snowdrops at the base of the apple tree. I notice that the apple tree has many buds, waiting patiently for spring.

Hooray! Bethany spots a male blackbird, who quickly flies into the garden and finds a snack near the bushes.

A little brown sparrow pauses for a second on the fence.

That’s it, our hour is up. We spotted only two birds, but had a peaceful time together in the garden watching the snow fall.

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Autumn and Fluffy at home school

It was a grey and rainy day. Autumn watched the raindrops hitting the window. She sighed.

“Why does it have to rain so much?” She wondered aloud. “When can we go back to proper school?”

Autumn’s Mummy looked up from helping Fluffy with a maths question. 

“All the grass would turn brown if it didn’t rain,” she replied, “and wouldn’t that be sad?”

“Hmph.” Answered Autumn.

“And as for going back to proper school, I don’t know the answer to that… we will have to wait until it is safer, don’t you think?” Mummy said.

“But why isn’t it safe now? I miss my friends. I miss my school playground with the basketball net and forest school pond.” The young fox moaned.

“We all wish it were safe, don’t we Fluffy?” Asked Autumn’s Mummy.

“Yes. I miss school too. Although, I am glad that we live in the same house so that I can still play with you,” answered Fluffy. “Imagine if we lived apart? No friends to run around the garden with, or play games with then.”

“You’re right. I am glad that we live together too.” Autumn smiled for the first time that day.

“I still miss normal life though. School dinners were much tastier, you got lots of rice pudding for dessert…”

“Thanks a lot!” Laughed Mummy. 

“Sorry Mummy.” Said Autumn with a cheeky grin. 

“Oh, it’s time for your live English lesson soon.” Said Mummy. “I will just start up the laptop. Have you got your pencils and paper ready?” 

“Yes Mummy.”

“Yes Autumn’s Mummy.” 

The friends had some live lessons with their teacher on the computer. They couldn’t have all of their classes that way because their teacher Mrs Badger had to teach the key workers’ children at school too. It was quite complicated.

The live lesson started.

“Good morning class.” Said Mrs Badger on the computer screen.

“Good morning Mrs Badger!” Chimed the children simultaneously.

“Today we are going to practice writing the letter G.” Announced Mrs Badger. “So make sure that you have your sharpened pencils ready, as well as some lined paper. But first I will read you a story. Have you ever heard of Hansel and Gretel?” She asked.

A few children said yes but some said no.

“Right, well, let me show you the cover first…”

The teacher showed them the cover of the book with the title ‘Hansel and Gretel’ on it, and a picture of a gingerbread house.

“Can anyone find the letter G on the cover?” Asked Mrs Badger.

“I can!” Answered a boy called Fido. “There it is, in the title.”

“Well done Fido!” That’s right, because Gretel starts with the letter G.” Mrs Badger pointed to the letter.

“Once upon a time, there was a boy called Hansel and his sister, called Gretel. They lived in a little wooden cottage in the woods. They were very poor. One day…”

Blip! 

The laptop suddenly froze, with a still picture of Mrs Badger reading the book, stuck on it. 

“Oh no!” Sighed Fluffy.

“Mummy, the laptop froze again!” Shouted Autumn angrily. 

Mummy came rushing from the other room, where she had been trying to do some work on her computer. 

“Oh not again. Let me have a look at it.”

Mummy pressed a few buttons on the laptop, but nothing happened. 

“Why does it always go wrong?” Sniffed Autumn. “I am fed up with this home schooling!”

Autumn jumped up from the table and ran upstairs to her room.

Fluffy looked sad and watched as Autumn’s Mummy tried to fix the computer. Eventually, the picture and sound came back. 

“Well done.” Smiled Fluffy.

“Thank you.” Said Mrs Fox. 

He called up the stairs to Autumn that the laptop was working again.

Fluffy really enjoyed the story of Hansel and Gretel, even though she had missed some of it. He explained to Mrs Badger that his computer had gone wrong part way though. Mrs Badger said that she would send the story as a file to read with their grown-ups, for anyone whose video or computer wasn’t working.

Finally, Autumn stomped back downstairs. She still looked cross.

“I see that the stupid laptop is finally working again.” She said, sitting down at the table.

“Yes, your Mummy fixed it.” Replied Fluffy.

Fluffy’s Daddy came downstairs for a cup of coffee. He made one for Autumn’s Mummy too. He was a firefighter. He was working that night, so resting in the day.

“How are you getting on with the home schooling today?” He asked.

“Badly!” Replied Autumn. “Our laptop is so old that it doesn’t work properly. I just want to go back to real school now.”

Fluffy’s Daddy sipped his coffee thoughtfully.

“Do you know why you have to home school now?” He asked Autumn.

“Yes, because of the virus. It is safer for us to stay at home.” Said Autumn.

“The more we mix with other people, the more people will get sick.” Added Fluffy.

“That’s right,” replied Mr Hedgehog. “So even though home schooling is difficult and sometimes annoying, you are both helping to keep everyone safe.”

“Yes, but it’s not fair that we have an old computer. I missed the story today because it went wrong!” Answered Autumn.

“We are lucky to have two computers to use: one for your school work and one for Mrs Fox’s work. Some people can’t afford any computers. Did you know that?” Fluffy’s Dad asked.

“No.” Said Autumn. “How do they do their school work at home then?”

“Some of them just can’t. Others have to borrow their Mum or Dad’s phone, when they can.” Replied Mr Hedgehog.

“Oh,” said Autumn, “I didn’t know that. I suppose that our old laptop isn’t that bad after all.”

“Yes, it does work most of the time.” Agreed Fluffy.

“I helped put out a fire at a house last night,” said Mr Hedgehog. “They lost all of their clothes, toys and computers in the fire. That was very sad.”

“Oh no, were they all ok?” Asked Autumn.

“Yes, we got them all out safely.” He replied. “Look, the rain has stopped. Should we all go outside to play football for a while? It can be your PE lesson. After that, we can have hot chocolate with marshmellows.”

“Yes please!” Said Autumn and Fluffy excitedly.

Autumn thought that home school wasn’t so bad after all.

The End

I wrote this story, and my daughter Bethany drew the illustrations. We enjoy making up stories together.

If you have kids, there are many ways to encourage their love of books. You can read to them; make up your own silly stories; or draw your favourite story-book characters. 🙂

If you would like to find more literacy based activities, and stories to read with your child, have a look at https://literacytrust.org.uk

They have a wealth of resources for all ages.