Heavy clouds may have loomed over Shard End, but that didn’t stop children from year 4 of Audley Primary School marching down to Glebe Farm Recreation Ground with a spring in their step and the intent to have fun! Birmingham Trees for Life took the children to the site where last winter they had planted trees, to learn more about trees and nature with Mandy Ross, a Birmingham based Arts Practitioner, who led a workshop with the children celebrating nature in the park, which runs alongside the River Cole.
The workshop began on the short walk to Glebe Farm Rec from the school, asking the children about their tree memories…
‘My favourite tree is the one with the blue rope that we swing from.’
‘I love my Grandparents’ apple tree, Granddad picks the apples, Nan makes an apple pie.’
‘There is a small tree I climb into where I can watch bikes and cars racing by.’
‘I loved the climbing tree in Sutton Park, I would climb it every time I visited the park, it’s not there anymore.
‘My Grandma has a fig tree, but the weather is too cold here so it doesn’t grow.’
Listening to the children’s tree memories was a lovely introduction to the workshop and on the journey to the site they noticed trees, seeds on the floor and tree roots pushing though slabbed pathways. At the site, the children quickly spotted the groups of trees planted by pupils at Audley School and BTfL since 2011 – they were quick to realise that maybe those trees had been planted by older brothers and sisters in previous years.
Standing amongst the young woodland, the children were amazed to learn that the trees were the same age as they are, and that those trees and the children would grow together. Everyone stood quietly on the banks of the River Cole and listened to the swishing of trees in the wind and the gentle flow of the river. Asked to describe the river the children said, ‘wet, mucky, aqua brown, calm, a home for ducks, muddy, flowing’!
Leaves, and seeds such as conkers and acorns were collected, and the children loved the tactile quality of the spiky conker shells, crunchy leaves and beautiful shiny conkers. Back in class the children were itching to get creative – and produced wonderful drawings and quotes inspired by them imagining being a tree or a river, what season they loved, or what they felt and saw from nature’s perspective. All the children were eager to share their thoughts and feelings about nature and nature’s perspective, and a wonderfully imaginative group poem was created, with the children enjoying the rhythm of the poem rather than rhyme.
Audley Primary School Year Four Poem
In the city, by the river, here we planted emerald trees.
Willow, Oak and prickly Hawthorn, juicy berries, swishy grass.
In the Autumn, by the river leaves are getting brown and crunchy.
Falling slowly in glimmering water, flowing gently to the sea.
In the summer, by the river, sun is shining on the trees.
And on water, people bringing picnics under shady trees.
In our forest by the river, we protect the baby trees,
To grow with sun and rain and soil, homes for owls, pigeons and squirrels.