Nkanyiso Ndlela of the KZN Crane Foundation was invited by the Balgowan Conservancy through the Environmental Learning and Leadership Programme, which is funded by N3 Toll Concession, to visit their local school, Crystal Springs Primary, to present a two part lesson from their enchanting Cranes in the Classroom series. There were 62 learners from grade 4 who participated in these lessons on the 6 and 13 July 2015.
The first lesson began with a short presentation about the three South African crane species, namely the Blue Crane; Grey Crowned Crane; and the critically endangered Wattled Crane. The learners were then handed art materials and instructions to make their own unique crane name badges and gave them instructions. These turned out beautifully. The lesson wound down with a story from Wisdom Tales about Mama noHemu and Baba noHemu. The learners were quizzed at the end to ensure that they listened carefully.
The second lesson introduced more facts about our three special cranes, with Nkanyiso showing them what they look like using pictures and posters. They discovered how threatened our cranes and wetlands are, and how we must treasure them by looking out for them and not poaching or killing them.
They learnt about the cultural beliefs and traditions associated with the cranes and they were allowed to ask plenty of questions. Thabani Bubele said: “I like the wattled crane more than the other cranes because it’s big”. Thabani is right, as the Wattled Crane can grow to an impressive height of 175 cm (1.75 m), making it the largest crane in Africa and second tallest in the world!
It was time for some more arts and crafts where the children made their own wattled crane masks. This made Thabani very happy, as now he could pretend to be just like his favourite crane.
Now that they all looked the part, they were ready to fill in their Crane Flower worksheets. This worksheet got the learners thinking about what they learnt over the two lessons and were asked to choose keywords represented in bold print from a list of facts below and fill them in the correct crane flower speech bubble.
Nkanyiso finished off with a quick fact about the Strelitzia flower, which comes from South Africa and is the flower emblem of KwaZulu Natal. It is also known as a crane flower because it looks just like the crowned crane.
Mr Makhathini, an enthusiastic teacher at Crystal Springs Primary, said: “These lessons suit the learners very well. They’re hands on and supplements the CAPS well”.
Balgowan are now home to these lovely craniacs who will love and nurture our country’s stately birds in the future.