My nature, your nature
adapted from LTL’s Schoolgrounds-UK membership materials
The outdoors is the perfect place to explore our heritage – its natural, cultural, and social components. Many cultures and religions are underpinned by strong natural imagery and respect for the environment. In this context children make connections with people and place, diversity in religion and spiritual awareness. If your school would like to represent the different faith and cultures of the school community, this activity suggests some ways to begin to do this in your school grounds.
Did you know?
"Only as a child's awareness and reverence for the wholeness of life are developed can his humanity to his own kind reach its full development."
Rachel Carson, Edge of the Sea Quote taken from Hooked on Nature
There are two values
which you can give a child
as a present for life.
First of all roots,
and then wings.
(Native American proverb) from Curiosity & Imagination website Roots & Wings awards
Before the activity
Research how nature and environment figures in different cultures and religions. Can you find a common natural factor – beauty/sense of peace/growth/images of animals and plants? You may discover that many parts of the process of gardening, such as co-operation, stewardship, responsibility and care for the world, are all part of world faith teachings.
Collect images to start making a display.
Is there a school ethos and local culture you wish to convey in your school grounds? Are there aspects of this already present in the school grounds, or is this missing and needs to be developed?
It is helpful to have a digital camera available to pupils for this activity.
This activity is the first step in identifying what you have in your school grounds, by exploring which places are special to each individual or group.
Give the children time within their school grounds. Ask them, either individually, or as a small group, to identify a place that is special to them.
Once they have found this place, ask them to sit or look quietly and think about what makes it special to them. Is the detail important or the whole area? Are there natural elements to your special place?
Ask the individual or groups to take digital pictures of their special place, focusing on these important elements. Will your pictures be enough to convey your feelings?
Collectively, make a display of your pictures to celebrate the special nature of your chosen spaces. Add comments or words, either to highlight the important features or suggest what could be added to make them better e.g. somewhere to sit, plants, trees, water, art, musical instruments, shelter etc.
Compare the images you have taken with those collected from the cultures you have researched. Is this an aspect you want to develop in your school grounds?
This activity would link well with Camera & Frame it! Activities listed under the Landscape topic.
Visits to historic sites, countryside and parks, museum and gallery collections, and exploring oral history will extend learning and discovery about heritage, and help inform ideas for your grounds.
Think about the religious and other festivals that mark the year. Often these take place outside and celebrate our connections with the natural world. Can you use or develop your space in the school grounds to celebrate your own festivals?
Religion, science and the environment http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/re/science/
The Black Environment Network http://www.ben-network.org.uk
The Curiosity & Imagination approach to the heritage sector aims to spread powerful new ways of engaging children with heritage, helping them to come to a clearer understanding of their local community and its place in the world, and to develop their own individual sense of identity. Visit www.curiosityandimagination.org.uk
The 'Life Stories’ Project aims to show that Biodiversity is not just about science, but also about our relationship with the natural world, including the social, cultural and economic links. The use of stories, factual, traditional and mythical is a potentially powerful way to interpret these links. Life Stories is a project being developed by SNH to do exactly that - by gathering existing stories about Scotland’s biodiversity and making them available to those who wish to bring biodiversity alive for local people in their own environment. FREE