As Kōanga brings longer days and new growth, what are you and your ākonga noticing in nature?
Spend some time outside looking at plants, insects and birds and notice changes in your local waterways as the weather begins to change. You can read about the tohu appearing during Mahuru, in this maramataka article from The Spinoff, written by Ayla Hoeta in 2020. Note that the dates have shifted, but the general information is still relevant.
"In Mahuru, tohu o te rangi (signs in the sky) is te kakau, the Regulus star which is due to rise in the eastern sky later in the month. The stars Whakaahu Kerekere and Whakaahu Rangi (Castor and Pollux) remain in the eastern sky." - Ayla Hoeta
Learn more about the maramataka using resources from Te Papa and Science Learning Hub, and read this story from Enviroschools about how Parihaka Kindergarten are aligning the maramataka with their Enviroschools kaupapa.
For some beautiful images and information about native plants that are flowering in spring, read this article from Trees That Count.
We also love the Department of Conservation's nature connection seasonal slideshows, available in English and te reo Māori, exploring native animal behaviours, patterns and changes throughout the seasons. Students are encouraged to observe local nature and engage in sensory experiences to develop their connection with nature.
Mahuru | September is Bee Aware month and is a great time of year to learn about and take action for bees. You can continue this learning throughout spring and into summer.
Bee Awesome He Pī Mīharo is a social enterprise passionate about the environment and bees. They work with schools in the Waitaha | Canterbury region and love teaching tamariki all about our precious little pollinators in a fun hands-on way.
Taking part in the programme means tamariki will learn to make sugar syrup, pollen patties and even plant some bee friendly native seedlings. You’ll also put together some honey frames and even extract some honey at the end of the season. Learn why we have to protect the bees and what simple things you can do to help them. Find out more on their website here.
For the Love of Bees aim to raise the level of public awareness of our unique NZ native bees, who are a keystone species and critical to our native flora’s health. On their website you can download posters of ngaro huruhuru, our native bees.
In 2019, students at Whareorino School were inspired to take action and made a downloadable poster to raise awareness about bees. You can read the full story and download their poster in this Enviroschools story.
Sow Seeds for Flowers and Food
Spring is a great time to sow wildflowers and herbs, including sunflowers, to provide diversity and beauty in your learning spaces throughout Term 4 and through the summer into Term 1.
Involve ākonga with the whole process by planning your spring and summer gardens and sowing seeds inside. Think about providing a range of food for people, bees, moths, butterflies, birds and lizards. If you're planting trees or shrubs, try to get these in the ground as soon as possible and before the end of September, while the ground is still wet.
Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust has a range of resources, including advice about what to plant to provide food and habitat for moths and butterflies.
Sunflowers are easy for students to grow, they help regenerate the soil and provide a fun way to integrate numeracy (measuring height, counting seeds), art and science. Read about Porirua School's outdoor classroom project and sunflower garden in this Enviroschools story.
Start a conversation with whānau and your local community to find out about local seed sources, or consider organising a seed swapping event. We also love the idea of selling seeds as a healthy, low waste fundraiser for school projects and programmes.
Help Nesting Birds
Birdsong is one of the best things about the start of spring and you will start to hear and see birds that have been gone over the colder months. Listen for the call of the secretive Pīpīwharauroa | Shining Cuckoo, as a sign that kōanga has arrived.
Watch birds collecting things to make their nests and resist the urge to tidy up loose twigs, leaves and other natural items in your garden and school grounds. Instead focus on collecting any litter around your neighbourhood, so birds don't end up using plastic in their nests. You could organise or take part in a local clean up event, such as those organised by Keep NZ Beautiful or Sustainable Coastlines.
An important way to protect birds and their eggs is by controlling introduced predators in your school or kura. You can find helpful resources on the Predator Free NZ website, along with information and learning programmes on the Zealandia website.
Click on the event titles to visit each website and find out more, including resources and local event details.
Bee Aware Month in September
Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori from September 11 - 17
Keep NZ Beautiful Clean Up Week from September 16 - 22
Spring Equinox is on September 23 - the day and night length are equal on this day
Recycling Week is from October 16 - 22 and offers fun activities each day to help with waste minimisation.
Bird of the Year from Oct 30 - Nov 12, with a special focus for 2023 to mark Forest and Bird's 100th celebration: Bird of the Century! Visit the website to find the full list of manu, including some extinct species in this year's line up.
Outdoor Classroom Day is on November 2. Join the global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day.
Thank you to Lesley Hurst, Bee Awesome He Pī Mīharo, for providing the beehive images for this Spotlight and for contributing your resources and ideas.