Guardian Childcare and Education St. Clair in South Australia, was nominated for the 2022 Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award thanks to their Bringing Back the Butterflies program to develop a native butterfly garden. Designed and maintained by 200 children, the garden has become a space where children can learn more about plants, butterflies and what they need to survive.
“The idea of developing the land at the front of Guardian Childcare Centre into an outdoor classroom and butterfly garden grew from the children’s interest and knowledge gained in raising butterflies and planting butterfly attracting plants,” says Lisa Weidenbach, Educational Leader at Guardian Childcare and Education.
The children were involved in all stages of the project – including researching local indigenous butterfly attracting plants and host plants for caterpillars as well as garden designs with quiet, interesting contemplation spaces.
“Sharing this planting experience, children developed a wonderful sense of belonging and responsibility,” says Lisa.
“Children learnt to interact with care, empathy and respect. Throughout the process of designing, creating and maintaining the butterfly garden children became in tune with their environment and proactive collaborators in their education and sustainable development.”
To get the project off the ground, the Centre collaborated with the Bringing Back Butterflies through the Australian Association for Environmental Education to share knowledge, source resources and help with planting.
“We attended AAEE Professional Development on Butterfly Gardening and trialled butterfly gardening experiences with 60 Preschool children over ten weeks. We also partnered with a Volunteer Gardener from our local Council and our Guardian Community in the development of our Butterfly Garden,” adds Lisa.
For those wanting to establish a butterfly garden of their own, Lisa offers the following advice:
“Be receptive. Listen beyond what we hear with our ears. When we are open to children’s questions, enthusiasm, comments, joyful or hesitant reaction, this will skilfully provide you with the next steps to take. Little miracles are constantly happening in Nature. Bringing in caterpillars and chrysalises from your local environment as provocations sparks wonder and creates a lot of interest in butterfly gardening.”
This article was originally published by The Sector.