ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION WORKSHOPS
Deb would love to help you with Garden Design for sensory, edible, biodiversity/habitat rejuvenation and educational needs.
She works with centers and schools assisting teachers and students to create and implement their own garden design specific to their requirements and location.
Butterfly and Bird Workshop
This workshop is a sensory exploration touching on topics of ecosystems and biodiversity as well as local plants dependent on the age of the students. Plant knowledge and habitats for local and indigenous species of birds and butterflies are discussed and butterfly and bird life cycles are explored. Students are provided with information and material to assist in planting a local plant species to attract birds and butterflies to their outdoor area.
"Cocoon. Butterfly from a cocoon. Lays some eggs, a caterpillar goes to a cocoon." 3 yr old
"It comes out to butterfly. How did it get in there?" 3 yr old
"I like finding all those things and doing plants. I like learning about plants with you, Ms Debbie." 4 yr old
“ We learn that we have to take care of plants and trees because if you pick them they will die.”
“ We learned about growing flowers. We need to give lots of water.”
“ We learned how to plant new plants.”
“ We need to give flowers love.”
“ You breathe to them and they breathe to you.”
“ If you talk to the plants they give air.”
“ We learned that we must water plants.”
"The children not only loved spending time in the garden getting their hands dirty but they strived to know more about the environment that they are living in. The environmental workshops with Debbie allowed the children to be inspired and it also encouraged the children to make choices for a healthy living for themselves but also for the planet." Nadia Ghani, Preschool Teacher, Australian International School Singapore. 2013
"The thing I noticed most with my boys after your workshops was that they became conscious of being in the garden and aware of the plants, flowers and animals in that environment. Normally they just run and play in the garden in their own world, but they became aware that they were surrounded by and were a part of - nature. Surprise!! :) Now when they enter the garden they are aware of it as a living, breathing thing. They feel connected to it - a part of it. They also want to care for it and spend more time in it. During the workshops you must have spoken about the exchange between plants and ourselves, so they have become aware that they can influence and care for another living thing - a plant. It has been so lovely as a parent who is environmentally aware, to know that my kids are being educated to be aware of their connection to their surroundings, nature and the planet. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and love of nature with my kids." -Siobhan Coulter and family (AIS Preschool Environment Workshops, 2012)
2011-2013 Sensory Garden Project. Australian International School. Singapore
This is where Deb began her Environmental Education career. Deb was employed part-time as a Teacher Assistant in Preschool and developed a proposal, designed and implemented a Sensory Garden incorporating Environmental Education with 3 to 5 year-old preschool children and acted as a consultant to staff. This project was closely monitored and documented as an Applied Ecopsychology Bachelor equivalency project.
By creating the Sensory Garden, Deborah believes we plant a positive seed of hope for our children’s future in a world with increasing natural disasters and evident climate change. The ‘seed of hope’ is sown by developing the children’s knowledge and understanding of the environment, sustainability and ecosystems. AIS Preschool is an IB school and also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach which emphasises curiosity, discovery, learning and the love of nature through the environment as the ‘third teacher.’ This garden is an excellent example of incorporating horticulture and meaningful environmental education. Deb produced documents for 2011 and 2012 which provided photographs and childrens words recorded the stages of the garden, tracking the children’s learning and understanding and informs of the educational and horticulturally therapeutic benefits.
"Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world." Dr. Jane Goodall
"Hamish loves it, whenever Daddy visits it is always the first thing Hamish wants to show him - The compost in particular was a big hit, Hamish would tell us and his class mates which items of food scraps go in which compost bin – “no the banana cannot go in that one, it goes in this one” The environment is so important and features so much in the junior school units of inquiry, introducing the children at preschool to as much as possible “green education” is fabulous! Thank you for all your time with the Wallabies Sensory Garden." - Leisel and Hamish (Australian International School Singapore-Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011)
"I think it is extremely important for our kids to be exposed to nature. Living in a condo in Singapore means kids are less likely to explore and muck around in some dirt because they don't have backyards. The sensory garden at school is wonderful, and the learning activities are creative and meaningful - thank you!" Tanya -Mother of a child at the Australian International School Singapore-Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011
"Brodie loves the preschool sensory garden which has introduced him to environmental concepts in a way he can understand. Brodie now asks at home where our recycling is when he wants to throw something away, and has gone from a child who would not eat a banana to wanting bananas for lunch so he can talk on his 'banana phone' and feed the compost with the skin. Inspirational!" - Clare (Australian International School Singapore -Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011)
"I think it is extremely important for our kids to be exposed to nature. Living in a condo in Singapore means kids are less likely to explore and muck around in some dirt because they don't have backyards. The sensory garden at school is wonderful, and the learning activities are creative and meaningful - thank you!" - Tanya (Australian International School Singapore-Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011)
“Will (3 years) has learnt so much from the vegetable garden that Deb and his classmates have planted in their playground. From planting and watering the seeds at the start of the year to watching the plant sprout and grow, through to vegetables growing before their eyes. What an exciting experience for any child and a helpful one for understanding where food comes from and the effort required to get it to our plate. Thanks for being a part of this important lesson Deb” - Karla (Australian International School Singapore-Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011)
“Skye has loved learning about the environment by helping in the Wallabies garden. She has added her banana skins to the compost heap, planted seeds and harvested and eaten aubergine. It has been a wonderful way to learn about the life cycle of plants and the small ways she can help look after the environment. Skye (and her sisters) have now extended the work to home, creating their own little flower garden in pots in the yard. What a wonderful way for our children to learn and grow! Thanks for your energy and enthusiasm with this project.” – Lucy (Australian International School Singapore-Preschool Sensory Garden, 2011)
Recycled Container Workshop
Demonstrates recycling and reusing, composting and decomposition, horticulture plant knowledge
‘Children's active and passive interactions with plants and gardening influence their attitudes and actions towards trees and the environment as adults.’ - Lohr, V.I. and C.H. Pearson-Mims.(2005.)
"Ms Debbie created an awareness of gardening and shared the importance of composting and recycling with the children. She engaged them in the different ways of caring for plants and provided hands on experiences for our Preschoolers." Sherlyn David -Preschool Teacher, Australian International School Singapore. 2012.
"I attended two of Debbie's workshops, and they were such a personal awakening for me. I caressed seedlings and planted them carefully. I handled soil with my bare hands, pulled apart roots and re-planted a pot of Cuphea... yes, all without gloves nor a spade! The woody scent of soil and the grainy touch reconnected me with nature. Reminded me of the simple direct link we have with the flora and fauna around us. The experience may seemed ordinary, but as an urban dweller in Singapore, never was I such an intimate participant. It was a good start." - Serena Ho. Preschool Teacher (Australian International School Singapore. Environment Education Workshop and Professional Development. 2012)
"I put some dirt in the shoe. We plant in there a plant that was already growed. We put it in the garden and watered it. It was funny cause we watered a shoe." 4 yr old
“Don’t kill the plants when they are alive because plants give us air and if we kill them we will have no air to breathe.” 5 yr old
“Be gentle with plants and water them when they are thirsty.” 5 yr old
Mini-Landfill, recycling and composting Workshop
Discussions around landfill. What it is? What can be re-used or recycled? Decomposition of a variety of materials and how landfill and rubbish can be minimized. Observations of compost gives rise to conversations about how to compost turns to soil and plant health leading to a greater understanding of human nutrition.
"I like digging the dirt because then you have to put banana skin in the compost. It makes them grow happy and even bigger. I like to water plants because then plants will be happy. " 4yr old.
"I am doing planting. Water the plants so them can grow. I planted the seeds in. I like to do so them can grow." 3 yr old
Sensory Garden: Connecting to Nature using our Senses
Sensory exploration particularly in the ages 0-5 is important for brain development and growth. This workshop includes discussions and plants with multi sensory stimulation observations. Plant labels display how children may interact with the plant. Edible plants and safety are discussed. Feelings of sensory interaction are explored.
"It feels really tickly. I cant smell anything. I breathed air on it, it gives us air, nice air. Air gives you oxygen cause they have air. If it doesn’t get sunshine and rain it wont grow. " 4 yr old
"Be nice because they are alive. Feels like nice, soft. See brown and green. Get healthy air from the plant." 3 yr old.
“When you touch Mimosa and it close up it’s special to me. Plants give us air and I give air back.” 4yr old
"I feel fluffy leaves. Doesn't smell like anything. It has green leaves. It makes me calm breathing in and out. I breathed in, I breathed out.
They get air for us." 4yr old
"Touch them, you connect. We be careful with it. We breath in, you give back your gas to the plants." 5yr old
"I was doing a tree blossom painting. I first did a tree truck and also did the flower. It was on a special type of paper." 4yr old
"Chinese brush painting. You get a Chinese brush and paint Bamboo or Cherry Blossom. I done the Bamboo. You go a line, then stop, do another line then stop and then you do the leaves." 4 yr old
"I was painting Cherry Blossom. I paint then stop, then paint and then stop. Green and black and pink the cherry blossoms." 4yr old
"Bamboo and Cherry Blossom. China brush painting. I painted it green. It looked good." 5yr old
"Painting Cherry Blossoms. I paint it pink and black because I'm clever." 4yr old
"I try my best. Paint with a Chinese brush, I painted a Cherry Blossom and a Bamboo painting. I like the Cherry Blossom because it is really pretty about the pink. It feels good when I paint." 4yr old
Chinese Brush painting with nature : Eco-Art Workshop
Demonstration and basic lesson using Chinese Brushpainting materials and techniques. These 4 and 5 year old preschool students were using materials that were foreign to them and they had no hesitation in trying something new; being a 'risk-taker'. They demonstrated they had listened well to instructions, and used precision in their work. Reflecting later clearly showed they understood their materials, the origin of the painting style, how to repeat the exercise, enjoyment of the workshop and pride in their accomplishments. These workshops are adapted to the ages and curriculum benefits. Individual lesson programs are also available.
"... to develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about the environment and its associated problems, and which has has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively towards solutions of current problems and prevent new ones."
Goal of environmental education according to the Belgrade Charter. (UNESCO, 1996, p.2)