by Andrea Barnes, Nature Immersion Specialist at Alpenglow School
Hands down, the most magical area to explore with children has to be a wetland. Any and every type of wetland: bog, fen, pond, swamp, or marsh. I believe that all students should get their feet wet in a wetland, every spring. Wetlands always provide good learning; they are naturally playful and they inspire curiosity and inquiry.
Across the grades, so many science curricular areas can be covered by wandering in a wetland: needs of plants and animals (grade 1), small crawling and flying animals (grade 2), animal life cycles (grade 3), plant communities (gr 4), wetland ecosystems (grade 5)...you get the idea. However, what I didn’t anticipate while doing a wetland field study with the grade 5/6 class this spring was that wetlands also provide an amazing place to learn Health curriculum outcomes as well.
The class explored 3 different wetland types (marsh, fen and pond) in the Marl Lake area of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and the students pulled out an amazing diversity of aquatic invertebrates from the pond. There were dragonflies, damselflies, mayfies, diving beetles, and the most fascinating of all...leeches. Leeches alone make for good observations and conversations but leeches mating, well that is a whole new level of excitement. “I can’t believe this is happening and that I keep watching,” one student said. They were squealing and screeching, they were ‘grossed’ out, and they were in total disbelief. The best part of all as I discussed hermaphrodites and mating appendages was that the very next day this class was starting their sexual health unit at school. What a provocation for learning!
All the Alpenglow classes will have opportunities to look deep into wetlands this spring. The grade 2/3 class investigated the temporary ponds around Larch Island, collectively they were able to find a good diversity of the tiniest of invertebrates (water fleas, striders, mites, beetles, and snails). They journalled about their little creatures found just a short walking distance from the school. The grade 3/4 class will explore the plants around a marsh near Troll Falls on their hike this week and all the classes will end the school year with their annual day at Bow Valley Provincial Park which always includes a wetland wander of middle lake.
Continuously grateful to be part of the learning journey with these Alpenglow students.
Nature-Based Learning is a main pillar of learning at Alpenglow School
Follow our students and teachers as they take their classrooms outside to explore, connect and learn in our own natural environment.