Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gardener's Day Out @ Hort Park

We first came across Gardeners' Day Out at Hort Park on the Wild Happenings in Singapore website and decided to check it out as it seemed to fulfill our craving for some nature related family bonding activities. Hence, we marked it down on our calendar! Reservations for activities also needed to be made as some of them allowed only a maximum of 10 people each session. 

Program at Hort Park

Upon arrival, we noticed a table sized booth featuring a egg, butterfly, catepillar, and pupa display. What an opportunity for the kids to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly, and see some living, chomping, brightly streaked catepillars. Hort Park boasts its own Butterfly Garden, which serves as both an aesthetic display and a breeding and research facility. We did not get to explore it today but it will definitely be on our list of things to do next time we are here. They run guided tours on the last Saturday of each month.

Eggs, larvae, pupae, butterflies!

At 9am, we joined the Harvesting Time! activity. For $3 per child, we had a short guided tour of the Permaculture Trail Community Farm and harvested vegetables from one of the designated vegetable plots. The families were allowed to take as much as they could carry, as the entire plot had to be cleared for the next batch of vegetables. We decided to take as much as we could eat for the week, plus a couple of bunches for grandma! It was also a good opportunity for the girls to see and feel the plant system for themselves. We always tell them how the trees would 'drink' water from the roots but they have never seen real roots up close. As they pull out the vegetables, they examined the roots and finally understood what roots look like. As they got their hands dirty, we also took this learning moment to emphasize the importance of soil and their permeability in the growth of plants. We talked about how if the soil is too hard, the roots would not be able to grow deep enough into the soil to draw water for the plants. We always made it a point to make the girls understand that people are always working hard to provide for the things they have. In this case, the farmers. Someone had to plant the seeds, water the plants, fertilize them etc. Someone is working hard so that we can have vegetables. Hence, they need to value everything that has been given to them and appreciate the people behind them.

A whiff of crushed lemon leaves passed around during the guided tour.

Rain Tree

Spanish Moss (find out more here)

Vegetable plot with cucumbers, Chinese Spinach, Red Amaranth, melons, lemon grass, and other goodies... 

It doesn't get any fresher than this!

A bunch for grandma, and a couple of bags for our dinner!

 After putting the bags of veggies in the car, we trotted down to the bazaar area at the Greenhouse and signed up for the Paint a Tea Herb Pot! activity. It was $5 per child and inclusive of all materials (small flower pots, paints, soil, and your very own herb cutting to plant in your newly painted pot!)

I ain't no Picasso, but Picasso never did a pot...

Event bazaar at the Greenhouse.

While waiting for the pots to dry (which took very long because of the thick layers the girls painted), A sat in for the free In Search of Bugs and Slugs talk at 5.30pm and had the chance to touch a Madagasscar Hissing Cockcroach, garden snails, peer through an ant farm, and do some simple art and craft (no pictures here as the camera wasn't with me).

It was a fun day out which ended at dinner time, and although somewhat tiring, it provided many hands on activities that not only allowed us to spend some quality time together, but was highly educational as well... not to mention we did not need to buy vegetables from the grocery that week.
If you are interested in finding out more about this event for a family day out, do check out the first 2012 edition on the National Parks events website here.

Some Educational Aspects for Young Children
- The various kinds of trees and their uses in our environment. E.g. trees provides shade, oxygen and food

- Garden Ecosystem. How the different animals play a part in maintaining the cycle e.g. decomposition of leaves provide nutrients for plants, animals breaking down the soil to allow for better infiltration of water and nutrients.

- Importance of water to trees. A good platform to highlight the value of water and the need to use our water resource carefully and wisely.

- Different factors needed for plant growth - sunlight, water, oxygen, chlorophyll etc. Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in a lot of plants and is needed in the process of photosynthesis. You can also explain how leaves turn brown when they are dried and dead. Leaves which are unable to receive sunlight turn yellowish too. It may take a while for the children to fully comprehend how the whole process of photosynthesis works but by using simple words to explain, you would be surprised by what they know. I know the girls always surprise me with their knowledge of things.

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