Recess time is also for watering

Recess time is also for watering
HOME: Pupils from Primary 1 to Primary 4 upkeep the school garden.
PHOTO: TNP

Into a space of 150 sq m - about the size of an executive HDB flat - this garden at CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel packs almost 40 varieties of plants.

Herbs, spices, ferns and ornamental, desert, water and even poisonous plants - a trip to this school garden promises to be educational.

The plant names to rattle off here include rosemary, torch ginger, water apple, wild orchids, lavender, blue pea, water hyacinth, cacti, bird nest ferns and dumbcane.

Mrs Rebecca Loh, one of the teachers in-charge of the SG50 School Gardening Project, says: "These plants are specially selected as they are common plants in Singapore, which we feel the pupils should at least have a knowledge of.

"Hopefully, through their understanding of these plants, their interest in science will be heightened."

More than 300 pupils from Primary 2 to Primary 5 and seven teachers are involved in one way or another.

For example, Primary 2 pupils germinate the seeds of chilli and broad beans, and chart the growth of the plants.

Primary 2 pupil Shermaine Leong, eight, said she learnt that seeds germinate at different paces: "I plant seeds in the soil and water them a bit every day during recess time. I sprinkle water with my hands."

ADOPTED PLOT

The school's Brownies have also adopted a plot where they plant an assortment of plants, including dumbcane.

Primary 5 pupil Jashinta Go, 11, learnt about handling the poisonous plant safely.

She says: "We are not afraid as our teachers told us not to touch the sap of the leaves or taste it. It can cause the tongue to swell up."

Parent volunteer Fiona Ong, 40, says the garden has helped her daughter learn that food doesn't come from supermarkets.

The housewife says: "It is a live lesson. She likes the idea of eating something from the garden."

Another parent volunteer, Mr Raymond Hair, 43, uses his expertise as a horticulturist and an arborist to design and plan the garden.

He says: "Most of us live in flats and a lot of kids don't know that they can grow a lot of things.

"It is quite fun to see kids learn beyond the classroom."

They plant to attract butterflies

Visitors are so attracted to this garden, they often settle down and breed here.

We are talking about the butterflies at Pei Chun Public School's garden.

The garden has attracted the Plain Tiger butterfly (right) and recently, a cocoon of the Lime butterfly was seen hanging from the lime plant.

Mr Benjamin Kua, 29, teacher in-charge of the SG50 School Gardening Project, says: "We created a butterfly garden so that students can use the opportunity to observe, study and experience the life cycle of a butterfly.

"This is part of what they will study for Science in Primary 4."

SPECIFIC PLANTS

Plants for the 12 sq m garden are carefully selected, specifically for the butterflies.

Flowers of the lantana and bloodflower plants appeal to butterflies and the plants provide food for caterpillars. Giant milkweed plants attract plain tiger butterflies while lime plants attract the lime butterflies, says Mr Kua.

Hibiscus, purple sweet potato plant and lemongrass are planted for decorative purposes, to enhance the overall look of the garden.

Primary 5 pupils Camille Yeo, Eryn Nam, Eugene Heng and Shannon Leong, all 11, are actively involved in the project, right from the design stage.

They even have an Instagram account where they post updates about the garden's progress.

Camille says: "We did a presentation for pupils from Primary 3 to Primary 6. We introduced this project and talked about who are involved, what we are doing and what we have done."

Putting their heart into their garden

Step into Frontier Primary School and a Singapore-shaped footpath greets you.

In the middle of the map, shrubs form a heart, and it is surrounded by plots of herbs and spices.

"The main concept of the garden is to show love for Singapore and share what the future will be," says the teacher in-charge of the SG50 School Gardening Project, Mr Chua Kian Guan, 38.

"We are a small country and the pupils may find the grass greener outside but their heart should be in Singapore.

"They can expand and explore outside, and learn new things but they must remember that their heart and family are here."

HANDS-ON

Primary 1 to Primary 4 have adopted all six plots where the pupils decide what to plant. They sow the seeds and maintain the plots.

Primary 4 pupil Jovel Ang Li Ying (above) picked chilli, lime, sweet basil and aloe vera for her class plot.

She says: "I made sure I chose plants that will make the garden look beautiful.

"I love nature. We learnt that even as children, we can create and take care of green spaces."

Her classmate, Jovan Loo Qilin (right), says: "It is a great experience, caring for our plants as a class. It is hard work but I find the experience enriching."


This article was first published on June 21, 2015.
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