As part of London Rivers Week, and to close our education project funded by the Greggs Foundation, we held a Graduation Day in Wandle Park (Croydon) for 300 school children.
Three local schools (Howard Primary School, Kingsley Primary Academy and Al-Khair Primary School) joined us on a sunny day to take part in a celebration of the River Wandle and its wildlife.
We led both pond and river dipping, getting the children to compare the range of creatures found in the two different freshwater habitats. After completing this session, they were then able to select from a range of self-led activities with resources provided for them.
Some classes chose to investigate wildlife around the river using an i-spy sheet and our wildlife sounds, using their eyes and ears to help them identify creatures as they walked around the park. They got to think about habitats – building homes for different creatures using the natural materials found within the park.
Some took time to look more closely at the river and record their observations to take back to class; how it looked, smelt, what they could hear and describing the movement of the water. There was also a nature scavenger hunt where children were tasked with finding different natural objects from the park, based on colours, shapes and smell, all intended to open them up to nature and explore their local natural environment.
A river clean-up was also in action whilst these activities were taking place, and children were given the opportunity to see some of the items that were cleared from the river. Children gained an understanding of how important it is to keep our rivers clean and ensure the wildlife can survive choosing the River Wandle as their home.
Children all received organic fruit and biscuits as a snack during the day and went back to school enriched with first hand investigations into rivers and their wildlife. We hope they come back to their local park many times in the future and further their interest and commitment to looking after their local environment.
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our education team volunteers, Nikki Golding, Liz O’Shea and Dr. Jean Gooding from the Friends of Wandle Park (who is also a governor of Howard Primary School). Thanks also to Andrew Dickinson, Volunteer and Learning Officer (Wandle Park) and to our own staff here at the Trust who all helped to deliver activities and ensure the children had an amazing day.
Finally, a big thank you must go to our funders, the Greggs Foundation, who have funded our education work in south London since January 2018.