Newsletter for July, 2019
Growing the gardening program at the Sunshine School

by Suzanne Gabriel

Thanks to a generous donation, we have been able to build the gardening program at the Sunshine School in Port Elizabeth. In addition to building beds and sourcing materials, the donation has allowed us to employ Elvin Lawrence to work in the garden and support in teaching the kids the benefits of vegetable gardening. So far, they have harvested watermelon, carrots and green peppers in addition to the existing bananas, which are mature and have been bearing fruit for some time.
The students love going out in the garden and getting their hands in the soil. There are currently ten students involved in the programme. Two days per week five students go to the garden. This number and frequency will be adjusted as the need arises. 

Though Bequia has recently experienced a long, hot dry season, boxes were constructed and laid out in the garden area and seeds planted. Soil was sourced and boxes filled. Students, with teachers, have been transplanting seedlings and preparing beds for transplanting.

The benefits of a school garden are many and varied. Gardening provides a connection between the students and the real world. They learn from experience that food comes from plants in the garden and not just from a supermarket shelf. They learn agricultural skills and concepts which are integrated with several subject areas such as Maths, Science and Language.

They also learn patience, as they must wait for plants to grow and mature before producing fruit, requiring them to focus as they take care of the plants. Cooperation and team work is a must as each student plays a part in the development of the garden. Social skills are developed as students and teachers communicate.

As students develop the knowledge and skills of growing and taking care if a variety of vegetables so too does their confidence. Non-readers or lower functioning students learn through seeing and doing, and hands-on skills. They learn colours, shapes, sizes, smell and tastes. Older students learn math concepts, such as problem solving, measurement, estimating, counting, and data collection. They learn science skills such as how plants grow and what they need to grow: sunlight, water, and food. They learn about using fertilizers and making compost. In home economics classes students are able to follow recipes or develop their own using the produce from the garden.

Students will be able to transfer skills learnt at school to develop their own vegetable gardens at home, which then can be used for self or for sale. Most importantly for them they get to eat healthy, nutritious food that they grew themselves.  
Recorder Karate!
Two island schools receive instruments to support their music education programs

By Glen Herbert

At their request, we've sent a case of soprano recorders to both the SDA Primary School in Port Elizabeth, and the Paget Farm Primary School in Paget Farm. They will be used within existing music programs at both schools.

We've also sent some teaching tools, specifically the Recorder Karate method by Barb Philipak . At the heart of the method is a positive reward system in which students receive coloured "karate belts" (embroidery floss) to tie around their recorders, earned for each progressively more difficult tune that they are able to play. They start by earning a white belt for learning "Hot Cross Buns," and then work their way up to earning a black belt for Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

Why recorders?
Recorders are a very cost-effective and highly portable means of introducing and developing many foundational skills and knowledge for music education. Those include:

  • performing on an instrument, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music, in a supportive, playful setting
  • understanding and appreciating expression and technical accuracy in instrumental music
  • reading and notating music, including note values and time signatures, and how the two interrelate
  • understanding and using key criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of musical performances and compositions

Recorders can be easily purchased and shipped in quantity, and because each student signs one out specifically their use, they confer a nice sense of ownership (something that is then furthered through the earning of the various belts.)

In all, it's a cute, fun, and proven way of promoting music to a wider audience of primary students. If you're a school looking to augment your music program, or someone who would like to sponsor a school through provision of recorders, let us know and we'll set you up.
A recorder with all the belts:
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Glen Herbert
Ph: 289.439.7052