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The Garden Writer

Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 04 Jun 2009 at 11:30 AM

One of the Key Stage 2 topics we offer at Rosemoor is 'The Garden Writer', which incorporates a range of activities all encouraging the students to be more observant and a little more adventurous with their vocabulary.

All images - students from Shebbear College take part in 'The Garden Writer'

To begin with each child is given an object gathered from the garden – this may be a leaf, flower, cone, piece of bark, etc. They are asked to write a description of it without using the actual words 'leaf', 'flower', 'cone', 'bark'. The objects are set out on a table, the written descriptions swapped around the class and each child has to find the correct object. This often proves more difficult than they imagine! The most basic characteristics of the object are often missed out, such as colour, shape and smell - for example a spray of blueberries with leaves, is described as “a thin stem with tiny green leaves and berries”. A rough haired, spotted leaf may be described as “arrow shaped and green, about a foot long”.

Moving out into the garden, the class are asked to write a description of a view – some are rather vague, conjuring up more of a general feel and atmosphere, others more ordered, working from the objects in the distance right up to those in the foreground, and pointing out particularly interesting features to the left and right.
A more detailed description of a plant follows, hopefully banishing the word nice, replacing it with more imaginative vocabulary and remembering to include the most basic details.

Finally, working in groups, the children set about gathering information to enable them to write an article for a school newsletter. Each group is given a specific garden area, which they write a description about. They also interview gardeners and members of the public about their work, or garden visit – they have a range of set questions or can think up their own instead.

Depending on time, the activities can include writing a poem about a chosen plant – the results sometimes astound the teachers, as the following poem, written by a self-confessed “Simpsons” addict, demonstrates:

A Tree ?

Come and look at a tree
My Teacher said to me
Well, I mean, a tree.
Me !
Now, the Simpsons, that’s where I want to be.

Then I’m there and I sit
This is not a tree
Nothing like it
Not one little bit

Describe it
How ?
What do you see ?
Spiralling bark
Tight as skin
Sunburnt red
Smooth as ice
Yet scabbed all over
Oiled and waxed
Branches like arms stretch to heaven
Grass green leaves
A trophy ?
Yes yes yes, a trophy
They say it’s A Cherry Tree

But it’s not what I see
It’s inside where I feel
And it’s not what I write
It’s the emotion in me.

A Cherry Tree
Not True !
It’s Prunus Serrula
I mean how could it be
Just a Tree ?

By Daniel Trescher, Year 6, Shebbear College

Schoolchildren can gain so much inspiration from visiting a garden, local park, or just an unfamiliar corner of the school grounds. For those who find classwork challenging, being outside in the fresh air, is often enough to trigger their interest and imagination, allowing them to achieve higher quality work and greater self esteem.

Sarah Chesters, Principal Education Officer


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