A bug hotel, an outdoor kitchen made of timber and a water flume.
Not things you expect to see in the grounds of a school - but these unusual features are cropping up outside classrooms across the region.
And it is all thanks to sculptor Lewis Morgan.
The inventive father-of-two is on a mission to make learning more fun by creating sculptures outside schools which teachers and pupils can use for fun learning sessions.
Since forming his own company, Lewis Morgan Creative Timber, five years ago he has worked with children and staff to create more than 30 unusual features in school playgrounds across Yorkshire and Nottinghshire.
Lewis, aged 39, who is originally from Doncaster but now lives in Epworth, North Lincolnshire, said: “The example I use is this: You can teach children about the life cycle of a frog in a book, or watch a video on Youtube - but why not create a pond, give them a net and let them have a look close-up and get a real feel for what they learning about.
“This gives them a life experience, it is more interactive and they are probably more likely to remember what they have been taught having seen something that they can touch.
“That is what I try to do with all of my sculptures. I just try and make it interesting for the children.”
A recent project included working with Jim Staveley, of ‘Greener Places’ in Worksop, to construct a unique wildlife area at Herringthorpe Junior School. He worked with children to create a pond-dipping area, bird hide and a bug hotel - a 5ft high room made from felled timber and filled with old cans and straws to create nooks and crannies for bugs to settle in to.
Lewis has also just finished working with youngsters at Aston Junior and Infants School to build an outdoor kitchen, complete with pots and pans, which youngsters can use for role play games and to learn about how to use a kitchen.
Lewis said: “It is made out of timber and has a sink and plug, work top, cooker and kitchen utensils. There are also pine nugget pellets, which teachers can use to show the children where things go in a kitchen and how to use pots and pans.”
Other schemes include developing a pond-dipping area at Swinton Lock Activity Centre, creating an outdoor storytelling area at Kirk Sandall Infants’ School in Doncaster and constructing an entrance way to the outdoor learning area at Rockingham Junior and Infant School in Greasbrough.
His next ambitious project is to create a village green water pump with connecting pipes at Herringthorpe Infant School, where he has previously created outdoor seating areas.
He said: “The school wants to teach their pupils about how gravity affects the environment so I thought using water and showing how it flows, what sinks and what floats would be the perfect way to demonstrate this.”
Lynne Pepper, headteacher at Herringthorpe Infant School, said Lewis’ work is proving popular with pupils.
She said: “We understand that children enjoy being outdoors so we want to give them an area outside where they can learn. It makes it fun and helps to spark off their imagination.”
Lewis, who has a degree in three dimensional design from Manchester University, develops the concepts from his work space in Westwoodside before working with school pupils to bring the ideas to life.
He previously worked for ten years an a sculptor creating public artwork in parks and wildlife areas. This included creating a granite and steel structure in Beighton, Sheffield, to reflect the area’s industrial past and four steel structures at the gateway to wildlife areas around Huddersfield and Ravensfield, West Yorkshire.
However, the birth of his son, now aged eight, and daughter, aged five, inspired him to start working in schools.
He said: “I saw how interested they were in their environment while playing in the garden and I thought there was an opportunity to help children to develop their understanding of the environment and to make learning more fun.
“I think our company is one of the only ones in the region and I am sure there are plenty more exciting projects in the future.”
For more information visit www.lewismorgancreativetimber.co.uk or ring 07985 096292.