One of the schools in the Lion’s Bush Conservancy is tiny Silindele Primary School. There are only 21 learners in Grades 4-6. The Conservancy has supported this school for many years and this year, used their portion of the MCF Environmental Learning and Leadership Project funds to hire the KZN Crane Foundation facilitor, Nkanyiso Ndlela, to conduct creative lessons about Cranes.
Learners had heard about the three South African cranes before. I used the poster that shows the three cranes to observe if the learners still remember and can identify them. I did a presentation about each crane. Shared that the blue crane is the most common crane found in South Africa, it has been chosen as the country’s national bird and there is a picture of a blue crane on the South African five cent coin and learners all agreed.
Also spoke about the grey crown crane which is their favourite, they said. Shared that the crown crane is very easy to recognise by its golden, quill like feathers that rest on top of its head. It is the most primitive of living species of cranes.
Then the wattled crane, some learners are still struggling to pronounce the word “wattle” they say water crane and wetland crane. I told them that the wattled crane is the largest and tallest crane in South Africa and it is the most endangered crane.
I introduced a story – the Lily Pad Lament. I explain to the learners that, in some cultures, water lilies symbolize hope and beauty. They push their way through mud and water and open into beautiful flowers. I asked them to imagine a wetland covered with grasses, reeds, and water lilies. When the water lilies open, they sing a lament or a sad song. The song is about all endangered cranes. If we don’t hear their lament, both the cranes and the water lilies will die.
Learners seemed to be very quiet. I ask them to stand up and I played fun life skill game that keep them moving and jumping around. Then I divided them into groups and handed out poster paint, paint brushes and newspapers. I gave instructions on how to create a frieze depicting lily pads and flowers and they followed carefully. At the end learners came up with beautiful posters.
Mrs Zuma, the teacher commented: “I am glad that you included a painting activity because we don’t do many painting lessons due to the lack of resources”