Dunkirk Discovery Garden
We are really excited by our Discovery Garden; it used to be called the school allotment, but we changed the name to better reflect the way we use the space - the children thought about names and together came up with The Discovery Garden (the land of many things). All the classes are now using this space on a regular basis as part of all aspects of their work and as a place for inspiration and well-being. The Discovery Garden is a
really special place that a team of staff at school are developing with all of the children and family groups. We also have some space a section dedicated for plots available to members of the local community.
The Discovery Garden is a large area at one end of the school field and is fenced off as a separate space so that the children feel they are entering a very different place when they go through the gateway. We grow plants for food there, but so much more than that happens: there are willow domes, seats, a fire circle (used in forest school sessions), hills to climb, wildlife-friendly plants, trees, a small orchard and much more.
The Discovery Garden is designed and made with the children for them to use in all aspects of their learning. It complements the other outdoor areas at school, especially the nature garden and all the planting around the different classrooms. It backs onto the canal and forms part of a locally important wildlife corridor; the rich diversity of creatures this brings gives a wonderful educational opportunity for the children.
We go outside throughout the year exploring the changes in the natural world, finding natural treasures, looking, listening and asking questions all the time.
The Discovery Garden is used almost every day of the week by different year groups, working on many different topics and activities. It’s a space for calm, for reflection, for
discovery and for sharing ideas. Children might work as a whole class or in small groups. The Discovery Garden is used all year round and in all weathers; the school has waterproofs for the children and when the weather is cold we make warm drinks and often a warm snack to share there.
Children use the Discovery Garden in many different ways, linking to all aspects of the curriculum. It’s been the setting for a Roman invasion, for a hoard of pirates to sing, cook and make maps, it’s been used for treasure hunts, potion-making, poetry and story-telling, den-building, mini-beast hunts, word games and much more. It’s also a crucial place for reflection, for sharing ideas and for peace and calm.
It’s very much a space that will continue developing and growing. Each class is growing different fruit and vegetables and this will develop over time.