Many Hands Make Light Work
Amazing, Fun, Colourful, Creative and Exciting are just a few of the words Spring Hill students threw to me before showing me their newly developed sensory garden.
After being accepted into the STEM Academy (learning program) at Sydney University, Spring Hill Public School were looking to add a little more enrichment into the school grounds.
Principal, Mrs Mac explained, “We discussed with the children what our priorities were and what would we want to create at our school, the children wanted to update their BMX track, but they also wanted to improve the garden area and make a happy place. So, we decided to create a sensory garden or a feel-good garden where all of the children could be involved.”
“We looked at existing gardens in the school and also looked at creating a garden specifically that reflected the five senses to ensure all children could engage in the garden, and so it was a nice place to relax. We have an amazing Teacher’s Aide, Dina Hines, who is extremely creative, she has really been driving the project with garden sculptures and art and has a real passion for the garden.”
Students excitedly began researching and designing their different zones. Freya Baker mentioned the first step was outlining exactly what they wanted to do, then came the cone placement, the digging and then the cement.
Student, Michael Stewart said, “I think it’s really cool, not all schools have this, we are very lucky to have the resources to be able to do it.”
“It took a lot of effort and we would like to thank our parents and all of the volunteers who gave us a helping hand and took their time and effort to come and help us.”
Mrs Mac continued, “It has been a fantastic outdoor learning environment, it has involved not only every single student, every staff member, but our community and we have been fortunate to have support from Bunnings, GJ Gardner Homes, ANL and also the Lucknow Men’s Shed. Its provided the kids with a sense of connection to the land and they are given real life problems to resolve.”
“We’ve been lucky to have specialists visit the school to talk to the children about the soil, we’ve had geologists, ecologists, horticulturists, agriculture scientists, builders, so the children have also had the opportunity to look at careers they might like to pursue later on.”
Some of the amazing zones in this garden and some of the kiddies’ favourites include; the dinosaur garden, the water feature, teapot garden and fish display.
From this, the next design brief they have is to drought proof not only the sensory garden, the other gardens around the school also.
“I am so proud of our school community, every single child has picked up a spade, every single child has had the opportunity to put their personality into that garden, and every child feels they belong here, it’s part of the school and it’s part of them.
“Some of the happiest times has been seeing the kids get outside with a wheelbarrow, working together with a paintbrush, that sense of ownership and belonging is really important.
“They feel like they have really achieved something, they grab their parents and say ‘come and look what we have done this week,’ that sense of achievement is very important, it’s another layer to our school and has created another really positive atmosphere where everyone’s attitude is ‘One in, all in.’”
Every Wednesday, from 2-3pm the entire school community work on the garden, a project that will continue to grow.
“I have students asking me can we do STEM all day, every day, and sometimes they don’t want to go home, so that’s really lovely and it shows their dedication to the space. Who knows what future engineers we have at Spring Hill Public School...?”