Published by Landcare Australia:
From kindy to year 6 students, Vanessa Anderson’s ‘ecosystems’ quilt is inspiring endless conversations and hands-on learning about the local environment – with the Local Landcare Coordinator (Wentworth) now planning to use the quilts as an ongoing activity for Junior Landcare groups.
Eager to make something interactive for 'Sunray Warriors', an annual event held near Mildura for primary schools, Vanessa approached a friend to make her a basic quilt. Next, she added sticky Velcro dots so that children could add a variety of laminated critters to where they thought they might ‘live’ on the quilt.
Students were first asked if they knew what the quilt was about, then what they might find at the bottom of the river in the mud.
“This is the starting point and we work from the bottom up. Answers are always varied depending on the age and group of students,” explained Vanessa. “We discuss what is found, why it is there, how it got there, whether it is introduced or native, where it lives, how it lives, what it eats and what eats it.
“We can also discuss pest animals, why they are bad and what we might be able to do about them. Rubbish is another discussion point; in particular, latex gloves and face masks and what happens if they end up on the ground, in the wind and in the river. The conversations are actually endless and ultimately guided by the class at the time.”
To make your own ‘ecosystems’ quilt:
- If you don’t have a quilt or know a quilt maker to make you one, you can use cardboard or a large magnetic board to create a habitat backdrop.
- Place sticky Velcro dots on different areas of the habitat, or use magnetic creatures if you’re using a magnetic board.
- Get pictures of a variety of fauna or flora from that habitat. Laminate them and add Velcro dots on the back of each of one so they can be placed where there is a sticky dot on the quilt or board.
- Add sticks, leaves etc. to bring the quilt to life.
- Alternatively, on a big screen display a plain river ecosystem and add animals into the picture via click-on animal icons. Get the students to describe where they might live.
- Ask questions! Let the children be inspired by what they can touch, stick, see and hear. It's all learning, you just have to use a bit of imagination…
Vanessa Anderson is the Local Landcare Coordinator – Wentworth, Southern Region, Western Landcare New South Wales. She is community minded along with being passionate about the environment