18 February 2011

Kids in the Garden

Wendy Hitchcock has been appointed by the City to develop educational activities for the Biodiversity Garden. It is wonderful to see how someone with her special skills and experience is making the Garden come alive for children and linking it to the curriculum.

The Department of Education has clamped down on school outings - apparently because some teachers opted for going on multiple excursions and didn't bother to teach. Nowaday kids aren't allowed to go on an outing unless it includes exercises to develop literacy and numeracy skills. Fair enough.

Wendy has developed worksheets and activities for different age groups, and is currently testing them on various trial groups. Here are some pics which she sent me:

"Pretend you are a litle seed, in the ground...waiting to germinate...

Then the rain comes, and you come alive, growing up to the light...!"

Grinding ochre - like the Khoikhoi used to:

Wendy writes: The cobra/rinkhals is definitely the most popular animal and the security guy has a really hard time keeping them from standing on the plants because they all want to crowd around the snake. I am getting better at crowd control.

I was shocked to see a child writing that spiders eat plants!!!! This garden is really important for these city kids to learn the basics.

Go for it Wendy - good work!


  1. Hmm. I think it's a pity that kids aren't allowed on outings that don't explicitly meet numeracy and literacy outcomes. It's a bit... reductionist. I wonder whether anyone spoke to the kids who were taken on "multiple outings" and asked them what they found memorable from that year - the maths and literacy classes, or the outings...

  2. lisa - thanks for your comment. I agree that the experiences have value in their own right.

    From what I've seen the activities are fun and provide focus for the kids - it looks like they ADD to their experience, make it more memorable. When did you get the chance to be a germinating seed?!

    Although there is a lot to see in the Biodiversity Garden, I think kids need a guide to animate the experience. Let's face it: signs are pretty boring - it's mostly adults who might read them and even fewer who interpret what they see.

    Having said all this I'm totally in favour or people strolling through and simply enjoying the space. My dream is that people feel touched in some way, and that this may grow into a love for biodiversity.

  3. This post makes me so happy!

    I work at a small nature center with a botanical garden and we have a really hard time getting kids (and adults!) interested in plant life and diversity. Congrats ladies, looks like your ventures are successful - kids look like they're having fun and learning too!

  4. Roaming Naturalist - thanks for your comment. Where is your bot garden? Are the snakes yours, or part of the nature centre?

  5. I'm in the Pacific Northwest, US, in an interesting area where there are forested mountains and high-elevation plains, so there's a wide range of flora here.

    I have two rubber boas of my own, but we have one at the Nature Center as well!

    I lived in SA for 5 months during my college years and I miss it terribly. It is such a beautiful country with beautiful people!