Monday, March 10, 2008

World Environment Day - nature activities

On 19 September 2007, the whole school celebrated World Environment Day with an excursion to Girrahween Park in the Wolli Valley. From this central location, 12 separate groups had guided bushwalks and experienced nature-based activities in their spare time.

One area was set aside as an "Explore nature area". This contained a large feely box with seedpods, banksia cones, sticks, smooth pebbles and a stuffed bandicoot! Students were encouraged to explore by touch and try to identify and distinguish the contents. In another area, feely boxes contained one item only and students were encouraged to feel the object and try to draw what it was without looking.

This area also contained magnifying glasses and objects to study up close including bug boxes and a cat skull.

There were books and posters identifying birds and binoculars to help spot some. There were also bird nests set up as a puzzle where students had to match the nest materials to the type of bird or the kind of location it would be found. For example, a nest made of sheep's wool might come from a farm and a nest of paperbark might be from the Wolli Valley.

There were also structured activities for classes to undertake including paperbark craft; wax resist, a stone game and a smell game. Following are the instruction sheets for these.


Traditional Aboriginal people used paperbark for many different things:
- huts;
- coolamons (carrying baskets for food and water);
- food wraps and plates
- toys like balls.

Yr 6 crafted Aboriginal-style coolamons and balls out of paperbark and string.

Make your own!

Paperbark ball – wrap bark around scrunched newspaper and tie with string. NB: Aboriginal people would not have had newspapers or string. What would they have used?

Paperbark carrying basket make a small canoe shape. Tie the ends together with string.

This bark was gathered outside the National Park. It is not OK to take things from inside the Park no matter how small. You may be moving a rare seed and stopping it from growing. You may be spreading an invasive weed.

You can take these bark creations back to your school or home. Try playing football or netball. Try carrying something in your basket.

Share your knowledge with others.

Stone game

Sit the class in a circle on the grass. Choose a quiet, shady location.

Select roughly 6 pairs. The remainder can observe first then have a turn later.

One partner in each pair is blindfolded and then chooses a rock from the center. They examine the rock by touch for 3-5 minutes then put it back.

Their “seeing” partner must remember which rock it was. They should have a good look at it before it is returned.

The blindfolded person then has to remember how the rock felt and identify it by sight.

Wax resist

The class should take a sheet of paper and make impressions of natural textures: rocks; bark; leaves, seed pods, etc.

Paint over the wax drawing with coloured water to reveal the textures.

Or, simply use coloured crayons to create an impression directly onto the paper. See if you can find trees or rocks with different textures and capture the patterns on each half of one page.

Remember: This is a National Park.

DO NOT pick anything living, or remove anything from its location.

Smells from nature

Encourage children to smell the hidden leaves and think about what they're smelling. Some questions to provoke thought. Is the smell:

- pleasant or unpleasant?

- strong or mild?

- from an edible plant or not?

- from a native plant or not?

- from a tree? bush? garden plant?

* Does the smell remind them of anything? A certain place or time?

* Do they recognize any of the hidden plants?


1. Pine or conifer tree.

2. Lemon-scented tea-tree (Leptospermum petersonii). Native tree.

3. Eucalypt leaves. Native tree.

4. Mint leaves from Ferncourt's herb spiral.