Bug hotels, possum boxes and honey bees

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Bug hotels, possum boxes and honey bees.2 September 2020

Learning about the care of creation is hands-on at St John the Baptist School, Ferntree Gully. The Preps have been crawling around in their backyards and local parks looking at bugs and learning about bees from a real-life beekeeper in Year 6, while the Year 2 students have been making possum boxes. It all comes as part of a care of creation unit of learning, which Pope Francis asks us to remember in a special way during September, the Season of Creation.

‘Here at St John the Baptist School, bugs have a special place’, shared Principal Cathy Mason. ‘Our namesake, St John the Baptist, was said to have lived on wild locusts and honey, so our youngest learners have been following in the footsteps of our saint, albeit making hotels for bugs rather than eating them. The Preps have reminded us of the wonder of creation and, as always, they bring the joy of learning.’

The prep and junior teachers have been working as a team to create these learning experiences. Deborah Butler, Prep classroom teacher and sustainability leader, said, ‘I was so happy to see the families working on projects together that inspire creativity and caring for creation, but most importantly bringing families together and building family relationships.’

This hands-on approach to learning has been a joy for everyone involved and has also made remote learning a fun and bonding time. Mrs Butler shared more of the story:

Caring for creation during remote learning at St John the Baptist

Learning remotely gave the students at St John’s an opportunity to become empowered to create solutions for the wildlife in their local area and backyards. Our responsibility as stewards of creation continued to be fostered in this increasingly challenging time, as families took on authentic home projects to take action for a better future. Careful consideration and planning went into curriculum design to ensure that sustainability was embedded across the levels.

Preps build bug hotels

The Preps and their families were excited to be learning about insects and bugs in their local environment as part of their inquiry unit: ‘We need to care for the Earth and all of God’s creation’. The children investigated their local gardens and bushland areas to see what they could find. They learned that insects need shelter, food and water, and wanted to help them by designing and building prototypes and actual insect homes for them to live in. Their drawings, designs and models have been wonderful and the children have really engaged with this science-based unit. Students used recycled materials from around the house to make their bug hotels and a sprinkle of creativity. Some families created bug hotels made from branches and bamboo for their garden, sharing the message with our community that all living things are important. The Preps have learned about the importance of insects as they pollinate blossoms, aerate the soil, and control insect and plant pests.

Lessons from a Year 6 beekeeper

Student guest speakers from the community were also invited to run Zoom sessions with the Prep students, with one of our Year 6 school captains, Angus, presenting to both of the Prep classes about his family beekeeping. The Prep students were eager to learn from one of their school leaders, and it was a great instance of a student leader building community and engagement remotely. The students learned about the myriad of ways that we can care for insects in our local environment, and created bee and insect hotels and butterfly feeders at home, along with planting more ‘bee friendly’ gardens.

Year 2s make possum boxes

The Year 1 and 2 classes focused on the plight of the Leadbeater’s possum, and designed and built both cardboard and wooden possum boxes for their gardens or local bush areas. Families took on big projects when remote learning was undertaken, bringing families closer together with shared goals and remaining connected with their school community.

Many students have engaged in authentic home learning projects to take action for a better future, remembering the words of Pope Francis: ‘Creation is a gift that God has given us’. The students have learned that their small actions can make a big difference. Continuing to embed sustainability into the curriculum to develop students with ecological responsibility will continue to remain a focus for the students at St John’s, as they look outward and raise awareness of other sustainable initiatives to implement at the school and wider community level.