Has your class been for a walk to your local park, reserve or playground? What did you notice and wonder about during the walk and while you were in these places?
Adopting local green spaces and visiting them regularly can have huge benefits for the wellbeing of ākonga, while allowing them to give back to nature through restoring and protecting the local environment.
We have summarised some of the programmes being offered in the main centres around Aotearoa, but you can also search here to find environmental educators in your region who might be able to help you connect with your local parks, by working with local council, iwi or hapū and community care groups.
The community park rangers at Auckland Council can tailor the Adopt a Park programme to suit your students' needs. You can get involved as part of a class, environmental group or a whole school. They will provide resources for all activities and run educational sessions on request, including:
Wellington City Council offers learning experiences for these two Wellington Gardens locations:
Discovery Garden at Wellington Botanic Gardens ki Paekākā: The Discovery Garden - Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku, We are all part of nature is a children’s garden, designed to be a ‘living classroom’.
Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush offers the unique botanical experience of native New Zealand plant species, hybrids and cultivars from across the country, in one location. Here you can see a range of plants from New Zealand's mainland and off-shore islands in a series of collections of over 1,200 native plants.
Visit the website to find out more and get in touch with the education team.
Zealandia - Te Māra a Tāne provides education programmes and resources that give students and teachers positive and inspiring nature-based learning experiences. These are available within the Sanctuary, at your place, and in your community. Explore their range of programmes and resources for Early childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary school groups.
Learning Through Action includes a wide range of free learning programmes delivered by educators from Christchurch City Council. These include the 'Junior Park Explorers' (ECE to Year 2) and 'Forest Explorer' (Years 3 - 8) programmes, held at a range of local parks.
For an example of the learning that has developed from visiting their local park and engaging with the Learning Through Action educators, check out this great video from Year 2 - 3 students at Bromley School:
We will keep updating this article with other programmes and providers who are supporting ākonga to connect with their local parks and reserves.
In the meantime you can explore your local green spaces using these great resources from the Department of Conservation: Explore your local nature