We love Cranes and Wetlands!
“Cranes are beautiful, lovely birds. I wish we could see one visiting the wetland in our school one day.” Samkelo Skhosana has been inspired by the KZN Crane Foundation’s (KZNCF) Cranes in the Classroom series of lessons at his school Shea O’Connor Combined in Nottingham Road. Class mate, Welile Duda adds “We have been exploring our wetland and found interesting animals and plants. One type Ugubho (Gunnera perpensa) is a medicinal plant which helps women and cattle to deliver babies.”
Nkanyiso Ndlela, the Environmental Education facilitator for KZNCF, visits this school (and numerous others around Nottingham Road) a couple of times a month conducting lessons with Grades 4-6. Most days, part of the lesson is conducted outdoors getting learners excited about the environment they live in. Not many schools are fortunate enough to have a wetland right within the school grounds as at Shea O’Connor.
Some days begin with stories, like Sedako’s Crane. This forms part of a lesson around bird migration and learning about other countries on the world map and leads to discussion about endangered species and bird ringing. On each visit, previous lessons are recapped to reinforce the fact that cranes are one of South Africa’s treasures. These special birds have lived on Earth for thousands of years and feature symbolically in many different cultures. Cranes are seen as symbols of faithfulness, good parenting and good luck and are believed to announce the changing seasons. With so many positive values attributed to Cranes, it is not surprising that the national bird of South Africa is the Blue Crane.
Other lessons this year have included learning about the habitats favoured by the three types of cranes – grasslands and wetlands. In particular the importance and function of wetlands, which introduces new terms to the learners, like: purify, habitats and biodiversity. Connecting all the animals and plants on the intricate wetland food web is a fun activity which follows the theory. It is clear that the activities have had an impact at Shea O’Connor. The Grade 10 Life Science class is collecting, identifying and pressing all the plants in the wetland to compile a detailed record. Andiswa Mbokazi concludes “We have decided to make looking after the wetland our Grade 6 project. We have taken out all the litter and we won’t let anyone throw anything there now.”