Taking Action in Early Years
Taking action is an integral part of learning. It is a demonstration of how the students make connections to what they have learned and applying this to a variety of real life skills, demonstrating an enduring understanding through concepts and reflecting on the attributes of the learner profile and attitudes. It is grounded in the students’ own concrete experiences. But what does Action look like? How is it stimulated? Should Action always be sustainable?
The purpose of this post is to document a learning journey with my P2 class that started a few months ago that led to authentic and sustainable action. The journey has taken me by complete surprise and who knows where this journey will end. Being part of this journey has been thrilling and developed my understanding of how Action can begin when we least expect it. Even our biggest achievements can have humble beginnings. As with the title of this blog, every mighty tree starts with a small seed.
The beginning our journey was a humble one with very little glamour. We had been asked to consider being more responsible and independent after our lunch. The students took responsibility for clearing and sorting their plates and food waste.
We continued this activity for about a week before some of the children noticed how much food we were wasting. We decided to weigh the food each day and record how much food we actually wasted each week. After weighing our first weeks food waste the children were shocked to find out that we had wasted 9kg of food.
Over the next week we thought about how we could reduce the amount of food waste. The children created a list through whole class discussion:
- Eat our food quicker – less chatting.
- Reduce the portions of the food.
- We can only have more food if we finish the food we have.
These simple rules quickly reduced the amount of food we wasted from 9kg to about 4kg each week. As teachers we were happy that the children had taken responsibility and some kind of action in our school community but our learning journey did not finish there. The children started to ask questions like ‘What happens to our food waste? Where does it go?
We needed to find out so we asked our Head Chef to get some answers. We found out that most of the food waste was taken to a nearby farm and is turned into compost. It seems that the next step in our quest for answers would take us to the farm.
The following week a trip was organised to visit the local farm.We were introduced to the process of how our food waste was turned into compost to be used in garden beds. We were also introduced to the idea of permaculture. Permaculture is a system of agriculture and social design principles centred around stimulating or directly utelizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. Intelligent design uses free, sustainable energies and resources. It is energy-wise and collaborative to minimise the impact of a site on the surrounding environment.
We had to have a go ourselves so under the instruction of the farm staff we help to build our own Perma Garden. We finished the process by planting carrot seeds. We can’t wait for them to grow.
The impact of the learning on the children was clear to see. As soon as we arrived back at school many of the children began exploring our own school garden and wanted to plant their own seeds.
Since our visit to the farm we have continued to monitor the amount of food waste from our lunch. We have also continued with our interest in Permaculture. With a little determination and organisation we finally build our very own garden in our school grounds. We are in the process of caring for our garden and waiting patiently for the natural process of composition to happen before we start to grow our own crops.
After several months of allowing our garden to settle and to allow the natural compost process to begin it was time to look below the surface to see what was happening before we planted our first seeds. It was a very exciting time.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our journey of discovery although the journey still continues. Who knows where it will take us next? Remember that every mighty tree begins with a small seed.