It was a breath of very fresh and very cool air on my visit to Homma Elementary School in Richmond, British Columbia. I was welcomed to the School Garden and teaching space by the garden librarians, Megan Zeni and Sarah Regan, and two Grade 3 / 4 classes of students. All of the kindergarten to Grade 7 students at Homma Elementary spend two hours a week in the Garden Classroom each week while their classroom teachers have their teaching preparation time. During this time, the dynamic Garden Librarians, provide a number of provocations to encourage inquiry, provide opportunities to explore through play, and stimulate creative play.
Today student attention was focussed of the sleepy butterfly garden and what will be needed to bring it to life. There were several stations to facilitate individual thought, collaboration and exploration:
- A butterfly puzzle station
- A seed catalogue station to consider the school order for seeds to attract butterflies
- The small loose parts station
- The observation of the butterfly garden station
- The butterfly book station
There were no complaints about the cold. There were lots of examples of engaged, purposeful learning. One group of students explained how the Squirrel Obstacle Course worked and how it came into being.
Another group of students talked about their favourite parts of the large, loose parts station. The Richmond School District has been very progressive in their acknowledgement that small logs, stump seats, skids, tires and other found objects capture student imagination and help students to develop the skills to navigate life safely beyond a playground. Clearly this is one of the favourite play spaces.
The Mud Kitchen is a well entrenched part of the playground. It is open at recess and lunch and remains stocked with items for play after the school day ends. Community members appreciate this and frequently contribute items.
The medical community has recently been allowed B.C. doctors to prescribe “nature time” to support the mental health of patients. Educators have long been aware of the power of a physical outlet and time out in nature for students. We are just learning about all of the additional benefits of ensuring this happens on a regular basis. Homma Elementary is a good example of how schools can support time outdoors, not only with playgrounds but with interactive gardens, mud kitchens and gazebos that facilitate outdoor time.
Check out Megan Zeni and follow her @Roomtoplay on Twitter and Instagram for more ideas.
Megan will also be doing an online session to support the upcoming Tidal WAV event at Second Beach on June 3, 2022. Stay tuned!
This is another Wild About Vancouver Wednesday post. Happy hump day!