At ILM Montessori, it has been constant endeavour to go for nature walks more frequently, but we have to honestly admit, as teachers, we do often spiral into working indoors on most days.
The “Neralu” project reawakened our connect with nature, children and teachers alike. We leapt at the opportunity and participated in several Activities and Projects. The first of which was our Nature Walk.
Our first activity was to take the children to a Nature Walk around the school. We are fortunate that our school is located amidst a gorgeous tree-line boulevard.
On the 11th of Feb, Saturday morning, Children arrived bright and early at 7 am all enthusiastic for the nature walk. So eager were they that some claimed that they didn’t sleep at all! The walk was curated by Priya Venkatesan, of the Neralu team. Priya asked the children to look out for special characteristics such as the canopy of the tree, shape of the lamina of its leaf, the texture of the bark. Just observing these signature attributes of each tree, was a voila moment for us.
Below are a few of the trees that enraptured us:
Silver Oak Tree
There is a tall silver oak tree, right outside our school, which most children were familiar with its leaves that fall into our school premises in the fall season. A compound leaf, having a distinct lamina with a silvery base. Maryam, who had adopted that tree for her observation project told us that the February is when that tree chooses to flower.
Around five steps away from school, round the corner of our street, the children enjoyed picking up the tubular flowers which spread as a lavender carpet. Priya further added that, when the trumpet flowers are not in bloom, the feathery fern delicate foliage and the disc-shaped woody seed pods are other tell-tale signs of a Jacaranda tree.
The children quickly noticed the Christmas tree. Priya immediately steered them to describe the tree, using descriptive vocabulary, manoeuvring them against just telling the name. Children added that its spiky trunk, conical canopy, spiky leaves and it is decorated for Christmas. Ananya reported that most trees in America, have a spiking foliage too. It opened out a discussion, about why it could be so…
Nuha pointed and asked Priya about the vine with the flaming orange inflorescence, that is blooming across the street around the barbed wire of a neighbouring wall. They were fascinated to know that the bunches had a dramatic name the “Flaming Trumpets”. Trumpet due to their apparent trumpet like appearance and flaming due to its flaming orange colour.
One of the children commented that it is a climber, to which, Priya helped them understand that flaming trumpets blooms on a creeper. She highlighted that as against the climbers which “climb up” vertically, creepers “creep”.
African Tulip Tree
Right round the corner another majestic tree with showy orange flowers, confused children, which they went on to identify as the flaming trumpets as well, due to similar orange hue. The curator patiently asked the children to make a note of and explained the difference between the tubular shape of the flaming orange and tulip shape of the African tulips. A teacher reminisces her childhood memories about the bud being used as the squirting water pistol, which gives it the colloquial name of “pichkari”.
Commonly known as Ashoka tree was next in the list of discussion of our Nature Walk. Priya enticed the children with the unique shape of its canopy, she elicited responses from them as to recognise their lamina, which children recognised as lance-like shape hence lanceolate lamina with wavy edges. She showed them the yellow-green star like flowers and urged them to observe its fruits when it is the season to fruit.
Priya then interestingly explained that this tree was not the Ashoka tree but the Mast tree. It’s commonly mistaken as the Ashoka Tree. Mast like columnar in its silhouette also called the false Ashoka tree. She related that this tree has an Indian origin, to which some of the animatedly expressed an obvious pride.
Thus anchoring the enquiry and fuelling the children’s curiosity using their sensorial perception rather than feeding them disconnected information about the flora and fauna associated with it. The simple questions asked by children, helped us realise how less we ourselves connect to our surroundings. It helped us to delve into the significance of the trees that we have in Bangalore.
Prep before the Nature Walk
The sweet fragrant Parijata flower
The skyscape at Koramangala
Look closely. Don’t miss a single detail.