Grade 4 visits to the garden were split over the October holiday, 01 to 11 October. It’s amazing to see how just ten days can bring so many changes at this time of year. Autumn is a time to notice changes in nature. The brambles are just about gone, although a few intrepid explorers were able to taste the last few brambles hanging on their purple, thorny canes. The conker tree has given over its treasures to the squirrels, while the medlars wait for the first frost to ripen. The orb spiders are busy capturing the last of the crane flies, hoping to fill their bellies before they all disappear for the year.
We spent each morning recording our observations through notes, mapping locations and sketching. Going out in small scouting parties, we explored the hedgerows, tracked the fox, crept up on the gulls and followed the wagtails. The weather changed by the moment, each day presenting us with its own challenges, as well as its own sense of adventure. It was great to see the kids who have been coming out to the project for several years interact with the newbies, taking them along to show them the hidden treasures.
In the afternoon we created class murals – drawing the plants, animals and elements of nature we have discovered over the years and then creating a web of connections. As we constructed our mural, we began to notice the interconnectedness of everything. It turned out to be a work both of of art and of science.
The very end of the day was spent learning a little of John Muir, the great naturalist who was greatly responsible for the protection of the world’s wilderness through the creation of the first national parks.
These were days filled with curiosity and building a sense of connectedness. We took our time, concentrated on a couple big activities – and the high level of engagement was the payoff. These days were proof that less, done well, is definitely more!