As schools become more aware of the benefits of experiential learning, school gardens have been transformed in outdoor classrooms, enabling students to discover science and the natural environment through fun, engaging and hands-on gardening activities.
Under the ‘Community in Bloom’ (CIB) Programme by National Parks Board (NParks), schools have developed innovative school gardens that are both beautiful and educational. Integrating curriculum subjects into gardening activities not only adds value to the existing curricula and encourages self-directed learning; students can also develop skills such as science process knowledge, project management experience, teamwork and entrepreneurial abilities.
Since the CIB Programme began in 2005, 90 schools ranging from nursery to tertiary levels have benefited from this initiative. Depending on the school’s learning objectives, thematic gardens are broadly categorised under ‘Herbs & Spices’, ‘Vegetables & Fruits’, ‘Cacti & Succulents’, ‘Ferns’, ‘Ornamentals’ and ‘Fragrant’ gardens. These are located at various green pockets in the school’s premises.
“...when I do gardening, I feel special, as I enjoy taking care of the plants...”
- Xiao Zhen, Concord Primary
Indeed, students are encouraged to get involved with their school gardens right from the start, by helping out with the planning and designing of their gardens, and maintaining their plots on a regular basis. Both teachers and students are equipped with basic plant care skills such as watering, planting, fertilising and pruning. Gardening starter kits are also available, to help them along their experiential journey.
Learning gardens have proven to be popular among students. Xiao Zhen, from Concord Primary enjoys her gardening sessions. “I love to do gardening in school. I love plants and I like to see plants growing higher and higher, from a seed to a tall, tall tree! When I do gardening, I feel special, as I enjoy taking care of the plants, and helping in watering and pulling out weeds.”
Some schools have even extended their efforts beyond their premises by engaging communities from their neighbourhood, as well as teachers and students from other schools. During special occasions and school events such as ‘Open House’ days, these schools organise guided tours for visitors to view their learning gardens.
Schools also participate in nationwide exhibitions such as Clean and Green Singapore and the Singapore Garden Festival to showcase their school gardens to the public. It is through such platforms that schools and their students can share and exchange gardening tips and plant knowledge with other like-minded enthusiasts.
By Shirley Ling
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