As heavy clouds loomed over Glebe Farm Park Recreation Ground, Btfl, Year Four, Audley School children and Mandy Ross, children’s author and poet donned our raincoats and marched down to Glebe Farm Recreation Ground with gusto. We weren’t going to let the threat of heavy rain put us off – and it didn’t.
BTfL had the honour of enjoying a morning with Audley School children learning about trees, nature and the River Cole with Mandy, Birmingham based, Arts Practitioner who led a workshop with the children celebrating nature at Glebe Farm Recreation Ground.
We started our workshop on the short walk to Glebe Farm Recreation Ground, asking the children about their tree memories…
‘My favourite tree is the one with the blue rope that we swing from.’
‘I love my Grandparents apple tree, Granddad picks the apples, Nan makes an apple pie.’
‘There is a small tree, I climb into where I can watch bikes and cars racing by.’
‘I loved the climbing tree in Sutton Park, I would climb it every time I visited the park, it’s not there anymore.
‘My Grandma has a fig tree, but the weather is too cold here so it doesn’t grow.’
Listening to the children’s tree memories was a poignant introduction to the workshop and on our journey to the site we pointed out trees, seeds on the floor and tree roots pushing though slabbed pathways. At the site, we quickly spotted the trees planted by children at Audley School and BTfL over the last eight years. Children were quick to realize that maybe those trees had been planted by older brothers and sisters in previous years.
Standing amongst the young forest, the children were amazed to learn that the trees planted with BtfL and Audley School were the same age as the children and that those trees and the children would grow together! We all stood quietly on the banks of the River Cole and listened to the swishing of trees in the wind and the gentle flow of the River. Asked to describe the river the children, said, ‘wet, mucky, aqua brown, calm, a home for ducks, muddy, flowing!’
Learning the names of the trees and the connection between the trees and the River Cole was inspiring to the children. We collected, seeds, conkers, leaves and acorns and the children loved the tactile quality of nature. Feeling the spikey conker shells, crunchy leaves and beautiful shiny conkers they were inspired to think about nature. With rosy cheeks glowing from being outside and embracing the elements we walked back to school full of chatter about trees!
Back in class the children were itching to get creative – and so they did. Drawings and quotes inspired by us imagining being a tree or a river, what season we loved, what we felt and saw from nature’s perspective.
Sharing thoughts and feelings about nature and nature’s perspective, enjoying the rhythm of the poem rather than rhyme!
All the children were eager to engage and what followed was a wonderfully imaginative creative poem – and best of all it was a group effort!
Audley School Year Four Poem
In the city, by the river, here we planted emerald trees.
Willow, Oak and prickly Hawthorne, juicy berries, swishy grass.
In the Autumn, by the river leaves are getting brown and crunchy.
Falling slowly in glimmering water, flowing gently to the sea.
In the summer, by the river, sun is shining on the trees.
And on water, people bringing picnics under shady trees.
In our forest by the river, we protect the baby trees,
To grow with sun and rain and soil, homes for owls, pigeons and squirrels.
The workshop was inspiring, we all agreed and made us think about nature which is always around us, always embracing us. We hope the children were left with a closer bond and a bigger love for nature.
From their enthusiasm, creativity and questions it’s clear the Year Four children of Audley Primary School in Stetchford already had that. And we hope that their passion for the natural world in their neighbourhood continues and grows like the beautiful trees we planted eight years ago.
By Justine Marklew