JUST IMAGINE……. A school ground filled with colour and excitement, a place where children can play and explore and let their imaginations fly! We are on the way to such a place already. Parkhill School recently received a grant from ARTS VICTORIA, which enabled us to work with Chris Saray, an artist in the ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS program.
THE PLAN The plan was to create a series of child height tactile colourful mosaics on each of the cream brick pillars that support the covered way in front of the classroom block and entrance veranda of the Roger Beech Hall. Every child contributed to the design and construction of these mosaics. They are child-centred and incorporate special, meaningful items such as wishing stones, shells, clay faces, mirrors, colourful tiles, driftwood etc.
THE WORK The artist, Chris Saray, worked closely with the teachers and students in design sessions. A committee of parents and teachers was formed to collect, organise and store mosaic pieces. These worthy workers also assisted teachers and Chris during the workshop stage. The work was carried out over a period of 6 weeks during Term 2.
THE ARTIST Chris Saray is a landscape artist whose speciality is sensory garden design and construction. Chris has worked with young children in designing environments that encourage creativity and responsive play.
“The project was an ambitious one, but thanks to fantastic support from teachers, students and school committee; it has been both successful and enjoyable. The commitment shown by the pre-mentioned is reflected in the quantity and high quality of the mosaics. Walking away, knowing that every child in the school has had a hand in the creation of the project has been very satisfying.”
Parkhill Garden Program
Our school introduced a vegetable garden program as a curriculum initiative in 2005. The program has both a formal curriculum component and a more incidental community and school wide access component. Students in years 2, 3, 4 and 5 participate in weekly lessons with a garden educator, their class teacher and a team of volunteers. The students prepare, plant, harvest and cook and share food from the garden. They have regular “market days” using produce from the garden, and work as “garden ambassadors” with younger students and parents. They learn about horticulture and nutrition and use maths and English skills in a practical way. Co-operative learning and team building are features of this program.
The garden program also aims to provide “hands-on” curriculum experience for the important “middle years” [years 4-8] students at a time when disengagement with school based learning can impede learning. The garden is open to all sectors of the school community, and has become a focal point for demonstrating Unity, Care and Respect—some of the school’s agreed values.