Planning a TREEmendous school environment

Issue: Volume 98, Number 1

Posted: 25 January 2019
Reference #: 1H9qcy

Instead of following the black ink and peanut butter footprint tracks of predators, the students at Konini Primary School in Wainuiomata know what wildlife they’re wanting to attract and watch.

Winners of a TREEmendous award, Konini Primary School is in the throes of carrying out ambitious plans to transform their field from bare grass to a fully engaging outdoor learning environment. They’re planning their planting to encourage more nature and wildlife onto the grounds for the students to explore, watch, roll around in and connect with their environment.

Lizard houses, weta hotels, bird feeders, a butterfly enclosure and a planting design, along with a rope climbing frame, are all in the mix. A planting day is scheduled for one Saturday in May with 1,000 plants donated by Rimutaka Prison for the community to bring along their spades and shovels, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.

Students’ enthusiasm is contagious, says teacher Bonni Ramage. “Some of them had sky-high dreams about what they hoped for the playground in terms of nature and their habitats, but they had to find out about what would actually work in our environment.”

Shortly the school will decide how each classroom will contribute to create the space. But Principal Andrea Scanlan says they can’t hurry the process. “We need to keep checking back with the students about what they envisaged would improve our environment. We keep asking them, ‘Is this what you meant?’”

What the students are saying about the space they’re helping to create:

“We got to put our different ideas in… things like jumping, climbing and swinging.” Jaeda McNabb, Year 6.

“I like that it’s welcoming new animals to our school – different types of lizards, tui, kereru and piwakawaka. Hopefully we’ll see lots of species of birds that aren’t seen by the public in Wainui. They might be hiding in the [Rimutaka] bushes.” Nixon-Jack Awa, Year 5.

“It wasn’t just our opinions, it was everyone’s [students and parents] and then we showed the pictures of things we wanted to the designer.” Leah Chouhan, Year 6.

“We learned that nature play can make you feel more relaxed and bad environmental stuff can make you tense.” Aliannah Thompson, Year 6.

“I do as much climbing as I can so I’m excited we’re creating something so different.” Jacob Lockyer, Year 5.

About TREEmendous

TREEmendous is a joint initiative between the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson. It teaches children about the importance of caring for the environment through the development of outdoor classrooms for teachers and students to reconnect with nature. Applications to become a TREEmendous School open from March each year.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 3:49 pm, 25 January 2019

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