Saturday, October 17, 2009

the natural habitat

when my class and i get to school,
the first place we go is the playground.
"the yard" as it's also called has a few different areas:
a soccer field,
a couple of baseball diamonds,
two sets of climbers - you know - swings, slides . . .
and a very special area called "the natural habitat.

this has been a part of my school's green mandate -
which began before there was "green"
or a "mandate".

if i sound proud it's because i am!
for more than twenty years
my litle school
has composted,
recycled,
reduced,
turned lights off,
created a video on helping our planet that won a european video award,
won all sorts of prizes for our efforts
to come to school in a way
that doesn't cost our environment its health
and most magically . . .
created a special area of the playing field for nature.
the natural habitat.
come on in . . .
the sumac is especially beautiful at this time of year . . .
it's a beautiful quiet gift.
back to nature.

33 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

What a beautiful habitat. The pride you feel shines through in the photographs and your description. Is the video on YouTube for all to see? I'd love to see it. I wish all students could have the opportunity to commune with nature as a regular part of the school day.

steven said...

hi dan - thankyou very much for your kind comment. the video hasn't been upped to youtube. it was made some time ago and i'm not sure if the technology would be compatible. there is tremendous interest in this country in making sure that schoolyards are as green as possible with several governmental and non-governmental initiatives to support such a notion. have a peaceful day. steven

Titus said...

Fabulous steven, and well done you.
We live very close to our school, and use the playground at weekends and holidays. They have left some wild areas (not at large as yours) and yesterday I was making bug houses with the boys (convoluted stick and leaf structures that insects might want to move into at night ...!).
To see children really looking at nature makes your heart sing, so ensuring they have the possibility is so vital.
This post really echoed with me!

Pauline said...

What a wonderful way to begin a school day, by appreciating nature! (It's the reason I get up early.) I so wish I could implement that at the public school where I work. You know what the reaction was? "What, and miss morning announcements? We have too much to do to be playing outside."

"They" just don't get it.

Leks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
willow said...

It's beautiful. And what great values to instill in your kids over the years.

Hope you and yours are enjoying your Saturday, Steven.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Steven: A gift to your school, your students and the planet. So many school yards are covered in cement and look like such barren landscapes. The students at your school are blessed to learn these values and then be able to appreciate what comes from them.
Bravo!

Barry said...

Stunning photography steven! Your school's natural habitat is beautiful. And so enriching and life enhancing. I think of some of the schools here in Toronto that mainly composed of asphalt and feel very sorry for them.

Reya Mellicker said...

"The yard" is beautiful! Wow!!

You are a force for good in the world, Steven, you truly are.

Golden West said...

This is truly something to be proud of, Steven. And as the seasons change, nature will put on its show for free. Thanks for sharing this!

ellen abbott said...

The elementary school my grandkids go to has a similar area. It's also a natural wildlife habitat but has a pond and a river. There is a green backed night heron that has made it his home. Turtles and fish, crawdads, squirrels and other assorted creatures. The g'kids and I usually show up when it's time to work in the habitat. Last year, they drained the pond and river and we helped muck the whole thing out.

It really helps the kids understand and appreciate the larger world around them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Seems to me, steven,, that the children who go to your school are very lucky indeed.

Joanna said...

It's wonderful that the schools are now recognizing the importance of natural areas to children's learning. The photographs are beautiful Steven, especially that last one.

hope said...

What a wonderful idea....and ahead of your time. :)

I keep working on our kids in the afternoon about the joys of recycling. One day I was breaking the tab off a soda can before throwing it in the recycling box and they wanted to know why. {Sadly the co-worker sees recycling as a way to earn cash for HERSELF off of that Center's soda purchases}.

I told the kids my senior citizens donate their soda cans to a local high school's mentally challenged class. The class then goes to a local recycler who pays them above the going rate so those funds can be used for special events for that class. The tabs are saved for the "Ronald McDonald House"...yep, that Ronald. It's a place for families to stay for free when their children are in the hospital with long term illness. I thought it would go in one ear and out the other.

One day, a little girl handed me a tab, then went back to the recycling box and took the tabs off all the cans. Before I could say anything she said, "It's for the sick kids." Now they even bring in tabs they find on the playground.

Hopefully we can "plant" recycling into a new generation so it becomes the norm instead of something you have to explain. :)

steven said...

titus - i love the bug house idea!!! extremely cool. teacher's everywhere talk about reconnecting their children with nature. it's where a lot of the big changes that we need to put in place as a species begin. the natural habitat is the work of one woman and a lot of volunteers and a lot of children over the years. it's always amazing to visit. steven

steven said...

as the year progresses, we are compelled to spend more and more time indoors. so this time is precious. colours, scents, sounds, are all infinitely valubale as we store them like fruit in the cellar of our memory. steven

steven said...

hi leks, thanks for this lovely comment! it's clear as water to me so don't worry so much about your command of english!! steven

steven said...

hi willow - thanks for that!!! i do believe we're all enjoying our saturday. i'm getting to cruise through blogland for the first time in a while and everybdy else is doing their own happymaking thing!!! how good is that! steven

steven said...

hi bonnie - it's so important at this point in history for our children to know about nature to whatever degree they can. concrete teaches very little. a tree teaches everything. steven

steven said...

hi barry - i also feel sorry for children - particularly those in inner city situations where so often the pavement is their experience of the outdoors. my own childhood in north york saw me running through a ravine at recess. pure magic. have a lovely day near the bluffs barry. steven

steven said...

hi reya - thankyou. it's been a wobbly unfocussed force lately with lots of distractions making their way into my waking and sleeping life!!! however, its intentions are good and honourable and perhaps it's just me breathing in for a bit?!! peacefulness in dc.
steven

steven said...

hi golden west - you nailed it!! it is amazing all year 'round in there. i'll up some winter pictures when the snow flies. steven

steven said...

hi ellen, that sounds amazing!!! i love when the animals move back in and make it their own again!!! have a lovely day down there. steven

steven said...

hello weaver, we try to make their lives as fortunate as possible as so many of them come from less than advantaged homes and circumstances. steven

steven said...

hello joanna - thankyou!!! the sumac is hard to go wrong with to be honest!! it's so beautiful when you see it in person . . . have a lovely day out there. steven

steven said...

hello hope - what a coincidence! my class collects pop tabs for ronald mcdonald house as well!!! we've been doing it for three years ago after one of my students brought the idea in the form of a shoebox filled with tabs. whatever we can do to make this world a better place...... steven

Friko said...

O lucky you and your pupils, Steven.
Here, in most schools, the playground is a rectangle of concrete. Playing fields have long been sold off and as for the natural habitat areas, most kids can only dream.

Lovely photos of a lovely area, may you all appreciate your riches and may you teach your children to carry on the good work once they have left school.

steven said...

hello friko - i forgot to add that we have a couple of acres of playing field as well!! that way we can have two baseball games, a football game, frisbees flying every which way, two sets of climbers, and whatever else unfolds!!! we are very very lucky people and we know it!! thanks for dropping by. steven

ewix said...

You should be rightly proud.
Honestly I think kids get a kick out of being 'good' and DOING THE RIGHT THING (well, most of the time!)
Years ago we had lots of 'nature study' at school and spent hours podding peas etc etc.
sounds dull bit it was rather fun.
Happy weekend.

steven said...

hi elizabeth - thanks for dropping by!!! i agree with you. kids love to be empowered to do what's right and good. i loved the whole "clean up nature" thing when i was a kid. we waded through the local river week after week dragging all sorts of crud and stuff out. it felt good. have a lovely day in nyc. steven

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

That is simply amazing, Steven! How very beautiful!! So good for the kids and for their futures! And their 'place.' Hope you're having a relaxing weekend.

steven said...

hi boomer! thankyou. i'll pass this on to the woman who has created this space. this weekend is very peaceful and has been filled with space. i wish you a peaceful evening boomer. steven

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful photos, it's great that your school is so green and has been for so long...