Zandvlei Trust

Nature Circles for Vrygrond youth  - September 2010 by Alice Ashwell. Nature-based activities for children, youth and families in the Greater Zandvlei area.
Presented by Alice Ashwell with help from Sharon McCallum. Sponsored by Safer Together.

Spring holiday fun on Park Island.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                                          photograph by Alice Ashwell

Children from the Vrygrond Library holiday club arrive              Bernalee listens as her cousin Jasmine
at Park Island.                                                                    introduces herself using the Bird of 
                                                                                          Paradise talking  stick.

Eleven enthusiastic children from the Vrygrond Library holiday club piled into Sharon and Alice's cars on Thursday morning 30/09/2010 for a Nature Circle on Park Island at Zandvlei. The south-easter was already fresh when we arrived but, tucked in behind a hedge of bietou bushes, we felt as toasty as a family of lizards in the sun. Using the beautiful beaded strelitzia as a 'talking stick', we introduced ourselves, shared about our families, and told everyone about one thing we find really beautiful. For a few of us it was nature - wilderness, flowers, sunlight filtering through leaves - but for most of the children it was soccer: the beautiful game!

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                         photograph by Alice Ashwell 

Cousins visit Park Island: Dillon, Jasmine, Kaylin       The teams run off to find ten natural items.
and Bernalee.

In three teams the youth proved that their eyes and memories were a whole lot sharper than ours: they rushed off to find ten natural items that they had been shown - and in no time they were back, having correctly identified flowers, leaves and seeds of some of the common plants. We were intrested to discover that some of the plants on the island are relatives of the plants we eat - one plant had leaves and flowers like a carrot, another one was a relative of the cabbage, and there was a grass that looked very much like wheat that makes our bread. We also found that the ripe berries of the bietou bush were yummy and sweet - the dessert course!

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                         photograph by Alice Ashwell 

The first team home: Dillon, Kaylin and Kiano.           Samantha and Kaylin looking for man-made objects
                                                                             on the "Un-nature Trail".

Each of the children looked for something really beautiful and had their photo taken with it - the pelargoniums with vivid pink flowers were the most popular. We then followed what Alice called an "un-nature trail" ... more than 20 man-made items had been dropped along a ten metre stretch of path, and the children had to see how many they could find. The older girls were the most observant, finding even the well camouflaged items like match sticks and rubber bands. We spoke about the ways in which animals use colour to show off (the red items were the easiest to spot) or to hide.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                          photograph by Alice Ashwell 

It's such fun to climb trees - and in Vrygrond there     Jayley-Anne proved that girls can climb trees
are no trees to climb.                                               JUST as well as boys.

photograph by Sharon McCallum                                                            photograph by Sharon McCallum

This is "lekker" fun.                                                       Jasmine wearing pelargoniums behind her ear.

The time flew, and soon it was time for tea. We sheltered from the wind under a wonderful old tree, which the children immediately climbed into like monkeys. Home made crunchies and freshly squeezed orange juice went "down the hatch" into hungry tummies.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                          photograph by Alice Ashwell 

Digital photography makes taking pictures really        Jayley-Anne, Munine and friends show off their 
fun - Samantha, Jayley-Anne and Haylene.                beautiful nature hearts.

Our final activity was to decorate little paper hearts (with magical double-sided sticky tape strips on them) with tiny bits of nature's beauty. The children made stunning patterns with grasses, petals and little bits of sand, which they took home to show the others at the library. A couple of the boys weren't really that keen on this activity, but they turned Sharon's car into the "love bug" by sticking their blue hearts on the back of her car.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                                  photograph by Alice Ashwell 

We all had lots of fun on Park Island - Sharon and           Kirwin finishing his nature heart.
the children from Vrygrond Library holiday club.

photograph by Alice Ashwell 

Roldo and Kaylin turned Sharon's car into a love bug!

Nature is always so much fun when you can share the time with children!


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