Yester’s P5/6 Winter Survival Skills


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The weather over the last two weeks has undoubtedly been disruptive and difficult for schools, and parents. But these conditions have also enabled some great ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities and experiences for pupils.

On Wednesday Yester Primary School’s P5/P6 class were treated to a day of Winter Survival Skills by the Outdoor Learning Service. In temperatures ranging from -10C in the shade, to a balmy -3C at mid-day, the class enjoyed the following activities:

  • Snow-shoeing – The groups quickly mastered the snow-shoes skills required to journey around the playing fields and into woods outside the entrance to Yester House. Yes, our snow-shoes will just work with a Size 3 wellie! The pupils quickly appreciated how efficient walking is in snow-shoes … certainly better than ‘post-holing’ over your knees in the deep soft powder snow.
  • Shelter building – How to make a ‘shovel-up’ snow-shelter with a tarp for a roof. See the picture to know what this is?
  • Keep warm – Build a fire to melt snow and heat some water, and leave-no-trace.
  • Search for an avalanche victim – The groups learned how to use a transceiver to search and find ‘buried avalanche victims’ – (actually just transceivers buried in a hat or glove, and yes we found them all )
  • Keep yourself sorted – Learn how to look after yourself in Arctic conditions, in particular how to keep your hands and feet warm in the ccccccold … they managed this most of the time.

While gaining the winter skills essential for ‘tomorrows adventurers’ the pupils also covered a number of learning outcomes, these included:

  • HWB 2-16a – I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible.
  • HWB 2-17a – I know and can demonstrate how to keep myself and others safe and how to respond in a range of emergency situations.
  • SCN 2-05a – I can apply my knowledge of how water changes state to help me understand the processes involved in the water cycle in nature over time.
  • SOC 2-09a – Having explored the ways journeys can be made, I can consider the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of transport, discussing their impact on the environment.

We hope to be able to offer similar activities to other schools – but it will all depend on conditions and commitments.

All our Yester-days

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Groups of P4, P5 and and P6 pupils from Yester Primary School managed to coincide their Outdoor Learning days with a run of some spectacularly brilliant late-Summer sunshine.

Monday had the first two groups journeying up the Tyne by canoe. Perfect tranquil conditions on the water, saw the groups both paddling (with paddles) and poling (with poles) from the weir at Aubigny to Clerkington Mill. A couple of the afternoon group even managed to do some unexpected swimming. And helped with capsize recovery.

On Wednesday another group visited the golden waters of Musselburgh lagoons, where again perfect calm conditions helped them learn a number of canoes skills … and again some felt they the need to sample the waters a little closer.

On Thursday two more groups visited the crags on Traprain, our local laccolith, for a spot of sun-baked rock-climbing. Here the groups learned how to climb and belay, looking after each other safely.

Thanks to Mandy from Yester and parent-helper Jennifer for their assitance. Also thanks to the pupils for working so well together, rising to the challenges and enjoying learning a number of new skills on land and water.