The tight-knit Alloway State School community has been thriving in the outdoors with a focus on nature intertwined with studies.
Principal Julie Hanak said students were given plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors through various activities including growing a vegetable garden, loose parts play and nature play.
“We believe it’s essential for kids to be outside in the fresh air, outside in the environment,” Julie said.
“It’s important they learn to grow their own foods and keep that sustainable.
“Loose parts create richer environments for children to play, giving them the resources they need to extend their play.
“A stick, for example, may become a fishing rod near real or imaginary water, a spoon in a mud kitchen, a tool to nudge a football that is stuck in a tree; it can be thrown, floated, snapped, pinged, bent, hidden, added to a pile, burnt, tied to something else, split, catapulted or discarded.
“Students are loving having to problem solve, work together and communicate in ways that they had never imagined.
“The increase in collaborative play and student wellbeing has been amazing.”
She said in the nature play area children could let their imaginations run wild and had even built cubby houses from palm tree leaves.
Their gardening endeavours include every single student in the school and span across a vegetable garden, pumpkin patch and an orchard featuring macadamias, mulberries and mandarins, just to name a few.
“The garden was part of their design technology studies,” Julie said.
“Years three to six studied where the best place for the garden would be.
“That looked at light, sun and access to water.
“They had to work out how much soil they would need, they had to work out how many rocks they would need.
“Preps to year two had to work out what plants would be good at what time of year.”
The area has become a favourite with Alloway State School students who are free to pick and eat the fruits of their labour as soon as they ripen.
“The students get very excited to be able to harvest the fruit and vegetables that they grow.
“The strawberries, carrots and snow peas are their favourites and never last long in the garden once ripe.”
With 46 students from prep to grade six, Julie said the school was “just like a big family”.
“The older students look after the younger students as if they were brothers and sisters.
“We know the families really well. Every staff member knows every single student.”
Julie said as a teaching principal she enjoyed building relationships with each student, as did her two fellow Alloway State School teachers.