Sustainability and eco-gardens aren’t new concepts in education in Singapore. One international school, however, takes it a step further. At The Grange Institution and The Grange International Preschool (TGIP), young learners have weekly lessons in the school’s own organic eco-garden, with a chief gardener. These lessons combine science, ecology, gardening for kids and biodiversity. In the process, the “Green Grangers” of this green school develop a strong awareness of sustainability and pressing global issues such as climate change.
According to Ms Yin San, the Head Teacher of TGIP, the eco-garden provides meaningful and fun learning experiences for children: “It offers them an opportunity not just to learn about the life-cycle process of how plants are grown, but also about responsibility, problem solving, independence and environmental awareness.”
5 ways the Green Grangers learn in the green school’s eco-garden
#1 Soil and plant science
Green Granger lesson plans are specially created by the class teachers, along with Mr Alika, the chief gardener. What the students learn varies according to the topic and objective of the lesson.
For example, Year 1A (5-6-year-olds) recently did a lesson where they learnt about the different layers of soil, experimenting with the layers to see the effects of erosion. Through this initiative, they also learn how to care for different types of plants, including how to grow them in a pot and how to transplant them during sessions that focus on gardening for kids.
#2 Identifying different plants
The eco-garden of TGIP has many varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Students of this green school learn to tell the difference between Chinese spinach and kai lan, for example, and identify okra, brinjal, chilli and bitter gourd among others. They also smell different herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil and curry leaves. The children also discover fruit such as kedongdong (or ambarella), mulberry, miracle berry and sugarcane, which are not so commonly seen in Singapore.
#3 Getting close to insects
By being in the eco-garden each week, the Green Grangers have the chance to get up close to insects. It means they can see in real life all the worms, grasshoppers, caterpillars, butterflies and birds that they’ve read about.
#4 Being comfortable in nature
The Green Grangers collect seeds for replanting, water the plants and even contribute ideas on what they should plant when a new plot is developed. As they help Mr Alika in the eco-garden, they become comfortable with being in nature and getting their hands covered in dirt as they do gardening for kids.
#5 Harvesting the fruits of their labour
The children are always the most excited during harvest time! They get to bring their edible bounty home and share it with their family.
Why this green school’s community likes its eco-garden
Hear from some students and parents:
“I love science lessons in the garden, where we learn about different plants, vegetables and fruit. I even planted and harvested my own okra plant. Mr Alika also planted a cotton plant for me to take home to care for. We get to see many creatures like grasshoppers, butterflies and earthworms around, which is so cool!”
– Ryugo, Year 1B student
“A big thank you to Mr Alika and the team for the excellent effort at the garden. We made a Sri Lankan vegetable curry out of the harvested ladies’ fingers. Since the produce was so fresh and tender, it turned into one of the nicest meals we’ve had at home!”
– Natasha, mother of Year 2 student
“This initiative is a valuable addition to enhance student experience and learning. Even I’ve learnt lots from Mr Alika. As the saying goes, ‘More is caught than taught’ – everyone in school from students to teachers have certainly caught on to his passion for nature.”
– Ms Iris Low, Year 1 teacher at The Grange
About the Green Grangers eco-garden & green school initiative
This green school’s eco-garden and farm features a specially curated Food Forest that supports its Garden-To-Table project. This allows students to play an active role in growing and harvesting over 100 varieties of plants, vegetables and flowers.
The Green Granger initiative ties in with the government’s Singapore Green Plan 2030 and aims to help students develop a strong awareness of sustainability and current global issues such as climate change. It encourages students to think deeper and explore new, revolutionary ideas. Younger ones in the preschool section also get to participate through a dedicated Young Botanist learning block that imparts important values such as caring, responsibility, resilience and respect for nature.
The school has exciting plans ahead, too, including introducing the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Eco-School and Forest Schools Programme in the near future.
Book a visit to The Grange Institution and find out more about their green initiatives! The Grange Institution Preschool opens its doors on 21 July, 2021. Registrations are now open for Semester 2 of 2021 and the academic year 2022.
The Grange Institution
The Grange Institution Preschool
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