A fantastic new outdoor classroom is taking shape at the school, thanks to the great efforts of lots of willing volunteers. A willow house was constructed with the assistance of Finnian Ward from SDCC Parks Dept. The willow will grow and the house will become a living dome during the coming year. The insects of Glenasmole are living in style now with the addition of a “Bug Hotel”, while the birds have a new feeding table and renovated nesting boxes to check out. Even the hedgehogs are being catered for with a “Hibernation Station”. Children will have the opportunity to learn about weather patterns, types of rock, native trees and wildflowers. This promises to be an exciting new teaching and learning resource. Many thanks to all those who helped out on our garden day on 26th March and also to those who have contributed materials and additional expertise.
Glenasmole School Garden Project – the story began in 2002
Our project is based on our wildlife project that is taking place in our school. We placed our thoughts, photographs, graphs, drawings, poetry, song and written accounts into a folder to show the wildlife project as it developed.
There are happy times ahead for the flora and fauna of our area because we are planting shrubs, trees, flowers and vegetables. Bird and bat boxes have been put up to attract the wildlife.
- When was the project started?
The wildlife project started in September 2001. We started our folder in March 2002.
- What encouraged us to start your project?
We love our environment and we wanted to have an area that we could look at each day. We were delighted when we heard that it was going to be made into a wildlife garden.
- Please detail the outstanding characteristics of your project.
The project folder contains an account of the outstanding characteristics of the wildlife garden. These include the bat and bird boxes, the vegetable patch, the wildflower area, the compost area the water area.
- The long term aim of the project.
The long-term aim would be that there would be an educational area at our school for children of today and the future. Here they can study, learn and observe about their natural environment and make sure that we and future generations will also respect their work.
- A description of the visual material provided.
We used our digital camera to take photographs of the different stages of the project. We saved these on the computer (these pictures can be seen on several pages of the folder). The video recorder was used from the beginning. We painted pictures, Tie-dying, representing the variety of colours in the garden was done by the senior class. We worked on the numbers of the pages using on the computer. Photographs using a standard camera were taken by children.
Graphs were completed by the children from 3rd to 6th class. Samples of these are to be seen in the folder.
We created impressions of what the wildlife garden means to them using paste, glue, pastels and paper (the folder has samples of these).
Our project folder is based on our wildlife garden. Our school is a two-teacher school set in the Dublin Mountains. There are 44 children in the school and all of us were involved in aspects of the garden project. The children from third to sixth classes worked on the folder.
We love our area and this wildlife garden is a way of helping us take a real interest in our environment. Dale Treadwell from Conservation Volunteers advised us on the best way to plan out the garden. Teachers, parents, children and the local community helped with different areas of the work.
There were many materials required. Our teachers contacted different people to see if they wanted to donate materials. Parents and people in the community donated bark mulch, flowering shrubs, stakes, railway sleepers, compost, pebbles, trees and many other things.
The table of contents gives an outline of the content of the whole folder. We have a short introduction to the overall content. Pictures and a brief description of the bird boxes, the bat box, bird table and water station are pictured and described in the next number of pages. We got a feeling of how people view the garden by handing out a questionnaire.
We did graphs about a litter project that we had earlier in the year. We decided to use the information we had learned to produce graphs about the garden project. All the children did the graph.
Different stages of the project were photographed on the digital camera. We saved these on the computer (these pictures can be seen on several pages of the folder).
We painted pictures which are to be seen in the next section of the project folder.
Samples of the tie-dying, representing the variety of colours in the garden and photographs are another area of the report on the wildlife garden.
Children put their ideas of what the wildlife garden would look like when finished by using paste, glue, pastels and paper (the folder has samples of these).
Poetry songs and stories based on the project theme were part of our schoolwork and these were included. We felt that this project covered all subjects in school. We will be proud of our school environment and hope that the children in Glenasmole National School will always look after it.
Background to the project
Glenasmole National School is set in beautiful surroundings. It is in a picturesque valley, surrounded by farmland and forestry, close to Bohernabreena Reservoir. The school grounds are well maintained and the building is a beautiful granite structure. When offered the opportunity to develop a school garden by Wicklow Uplands Council, it seemed almost impossible to improve on what we already had. However, when we thought about how a garden building project could provide learning and social experiences for both the children, staff and parents, we began to work on a plan to make an outdoor classroom which would be both usable and beautiful.
Wildlife abounds in this area – all manner of animal, bird, insect and plant life are in the hedgerows, fields and rivers. The challenge we set ourselves was to attract some of this life to the school grounds where we could view it at first hand. We wanted to be able to view the wildlife from the classrooms, so we decided to site the garden immediately outside the classroom windows. When the wind whistles around about the school, there is little chance of children or staff being willing to take lessons outside!
We made contact with Conservation Volunteers Ireland and a lovely gentleman called Dale Treadwell came to visit the school. He was delighted to be involved in planning and implementing the garden and helped us to decide exactly how the garden would look. He was particularly keen on planting native trees and shrubs and in making a wildflower meadow to attract butterflies and bees in summer. We had a seed collecting and planting session with him in October.
The parents enthusiastically supported the project from the start, contributing materials, making donations and giving suggestions. On a crisp December morning, some parents and staff (and hardworking senior pupils) arrived at the school, tools in hand for a “working bee”. Paths were dug, sleepers laid, bird and bat nesting boxes attached to poles, trees and shrubs planted. There was a buzz of activity inside the school too, as parents from the Parent’s Association laid on tea and sandwiches and cakes for the hungry workers.
From our classrooms now, we can watch the birds flocking to our feeding station, we have posters and books inside the windows to help with identification and are beginning to keep a log of the birds who visit. We can start to plan for seed sowing, watch the buds develop on the newly planted trees and keep an eye out for birds showing an interest in our nesting boxes. During the following months, we might be able to see some of the fruits (or veg!) of our hard work.