Two years ago I was an intern at the Audubon Center at Debs Park where I worked with former EFTA intern Carlos Jauregui. We developed and guided a curriculum for their annual summer day camp. It was a great experience and both of us have kept in contact with the staff and volunteers of Debs. This week I was invited to lead a talk and walk about Native Plants and Habitat Restoration for this years summer camp’s plant week. I couldn’t be happier to. I’ve missed student interaction at this wonderful place and I couldn’t wait to teach them about our beloved friends, california native plants. Since I was an intern before, I knew what may be best to grasp everyone’s attention (seating arrangement wise), but what may have been a challenge was how to get them excited about plants.
I rearranged the seating so it was only chairs and they were all facing me. I didn’t have group work activities planned so we moved the tables away which would minimize possible side chattering. First, I had an introduction about plants and what they could provide. Students shouted out answer while I wrote them on the board. Then, I grouped their answers into three: food, water, and shelter. We talked about how native plants can provide the two and how we can provide native plants for birds and critters in our homes by having a native garden. Then, we talked about how it doesn’t rain much in Southern California and how the plants may have adapted to this type of climate. I passed small branches (that I previously clipped) of California Buckwheat, California Sage Brush, White sage, and a few leaves from the Laurel Sumac also known as the Taco Tree. I gave a clipping to a group a two and gave the students a few minutes to think how these plants adapted. I was taught if the actual subjects of what your teaching are accessible , then that may be better to use than pictures. This way they may use all their senses and think critically, but in a fun way. Before we talked as a group how these plants adapted, I asked the students if they knew the plants they were holding and sure enough there were plenty of raised hands and correct plant identifications, I was impressed.
After we talked about some of the plant adaptations such as a lighter shade to reflect energy back or thin leaves to require less energy, we went on a nature walk. We ended our walk with a minute of silence where everyone closed their eyes and lifted a finger whenever they heard anything. We had sounds like, the wind rustling leaves, a scrub-jay, a plane, and so on. It was great to have a day where they used their sense of sight, listening, smell, and touch. I hear Carlos will guide a day for bird week and I cannot wait to hear about it!