Gardening, Sustainability and Literature for Children
Today we combined with our sister school and all of Year Two enjoyed ‘Gardening and Sustainability Day’. We ran three rotations focusing on worm farming and composting, growing from seeds and cuttings, and fairy gardens. Fairy gardens? Why yes! I love a good fairy garden (or dinosaur garden if that is more your thing), they are a perfect introduction to gardening and encourage children see the natural world in a whole new light; that little gumnut could also be a soup bowl, goblet, showerhead or lightbulb. Perfect!
There is nothing I like better than seeing young children getting grubby in the garden, and as I was discussing with one of the teachers today, you can cover a serious amount of curriculum content in a way that is hands on, innovative and has a real world context.
The Australian Curriculum places a strong emphasis on Sustainability as a priority for study in all areas of learning (see here). Our focus areas of study for our ‘Gardening and Sustainability Day’ were as follows:
- English: English helps students develop the skills necessary to investigate, analyse and communicate ideas and information related to sustainability, and to advocate, generate and evaluate actions for sustainable futures. The content in the language, literature and literacy strands is key to developing and sharing knowledge about social, economic and ecological systems.
- Mathematics: Mathematical understandings and skills are necessary to measure, monitor and quantify change in…ecological systems.
- Science: the Sustainability priority provides contexts for investigating and understanding… biological systems. Relationships including cycles and cause and effect are explored, and students develop observation and analysis skills to examine these relationships in the world around them.
- The Arts: Sustainability enables the exploration of the role of The Arts in maintaining and transforming…the relationships of people to their environment. Through making and responding in The Arts, students consider issues of sustainability in relation to resource use.
I use literature as the starting point for pretty much every gardening activity I do at school and home:
- Worms and worm towers here.
- Carrot pots here.
- My love of Costa (no secret!) and school kitchen gardens here.
- My 100 fav books on sustainability here.
- Fairy gardens here.
- Dinosaur gardens here.
We made our own decomposable pots for seeds and cuttings (above) using this tool here and learnt about creating low or no cost gardens using the books below.
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With todays fairy garden, I really wanted to encourage the students to use natural, found materials to create the furniture and other items for their fairies, rather than adding plastic bibs and bobs to the school playground. We have talked before about ephemeral art and I wanted this to extend this idea so that they understood that they might make things for the fairies that are not there the next day due to wind, rain, decomposition or other little fingers taking or breaking their work and that this was totally fine. In a shared playground space, and in nature, one cannot be precious about ‘that is mine’ or ‘you can’t break that!’. The door is from Immy’s Minis, whom I have no affiliation with, but I adore, probably more than I should.
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Thanks for a lovely day Year Two!