I love the Kruger Park, as a child our parents taught us what to look out for: the flick of a tail or an ear. They explained the habitats of the animals. Where animals lived and where we should look out for them. We played games in the car, trying to name trees and grasses, and referred to the books we had in the car as sources of reference. We weren't bored, but loved the long lazy drives, the excitement when something was spotted! Great excitement when the animal was identified and observed!
This love and knowledge of nature, we have passed onto our children. They enjoy visiting these wonderful national nature parks in South Africa as much as we do!
We, South Africans, are blessed as our country's wide range of fauna (animals, birds, reptiles and 'goggas' - insects and other small creatures) and magnificent flora.
The teacher in me always comes out. I think every South African school child should be taught about our wonderful natural heritage. Caring for the wildlife, respecting it! Each should be given the opportunity to visit these nature reserves and see the wildlife in its environment.
Children should be made aware of rules and the reasons behind the rules, such as not feeding wild animals and birds in nature parks. The reason for not feeding the animals is that they become depend on the food and then hurt people when they are not fed, also the food is not their natural diet and make the animals ill. They should be given reasons about the importance of and information about conservation and protecting our wildlife - the animals and the habitats.
Schools should be encouraged to take children on tours to nature reserves, with informed guides who can explain to the children what they are seeing!
Teaching them about the wonderful animals, giving interesting facts!
Sharing knowledge about caring for the natural environment so the animals can live naturally within their own habitat!
This should not be seen as a maybe within our curriculum, but should be built in, as part of schooling! Authentic learning would take place. The information they learn should be related to different subjects.
1. Data handling in Mathematics could be related to numbers of animals over a period of time.
2. Traditional folk tales could be told about animals and plants, which the children could enact (drama lesson) or rewrite in their own words (a creative writing / composition language lesson)
3. Learning the names of animals and plants builds vocabulary and comprehension, beneficial for language development.
4. The historical facts, archeologically sites or information about the founding of a reserve, would be History lessons
5. The geological structures, different terrains, habitats and peoples, would ne Geography lessons
6. Life Sciences and Natural Science could be taught as well
7. Arts and Culture - doing a piece of art work (drawing, painting, sculpture) or creating music using natural objects or mimicking the sounds of animals noises.
There is so much the children would learn!
Trips and tours by schools, should not just be outings but should be opportunities to educate our children in the real world. In a nature reserve we have the most amazing 'classroom' we should be sharing with the children we teach! Plan an environmental educational outing.
Is your school an Eco-school?
Eco-Schools Programme in South Africa http://wessa.org.za/what-we-do/eco-schools.htm
Some Kruger Park initiatives:
Phalaborwa Eco-Schools Get Funding Boost - Five schools in Namakgale and Lulekani (outside Phalaborwa) that are involved in the international Eco-Schools programme http://www.krugerpark.co.za/krugerpark-times-2-22-eco-school-21627.html