The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is one of my favourite books for so many reasons. One could do an extensive lesson on this linking the character of Liam to many of the the IB Learner Profiles and Attitudes. This story also appeals to me with its themes of sustainability, and environmental design in urban living. Here is a charming and entertaining video retelling of the story.
Since the Y1s current unit of inquiry is sharing the planets with a focus on how plants and humans live together, the plot of how a Liam embarks on breathing life, literally plant life, into an abandoned rail system could not be more appropriate.
After reading the story to them, I asked Y1s the following:
Why is the story called the Curious Garden?
What does the garden do to show its curiosity?
What IB Learner Attitudes and Profiles does Liam model for us and how?
Do you think this is a true story?
Many students did not think it was a true story and when I asked why, it was mostly because of the picture book format. I told students that Liam is a fictional character, the Curious Garden was inspired by the true story of the High Line in New York, an abandoned railway that has been turned into a popular pedestrian green corridor. I showed them a video from Time.com.
Although the vocabulary and pace of speech is too advanced for the Y1s, they were fascinated by the drone shots that turned a picture book turned into reality. I paused a few times during the videos to ask them questions to check on their understanding. They definitely understood the main ideas.
After this video, I asked the students if they thought the same thing existed in Singapore. Virtually all students, said no. However I told them, we have our own High Line in Singapore and it is called the Green Corridor. It is a former rail corridor for a train that ran from the central business district of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It ceased operation in 2012 and was 24 km long within Singapore.
Most of the rail tracks are gone, and it mostly a walking trail from north to south Singapore, with further development plans in the future.
I then showed them a drone video that capture arial views of this route that also labelled areas of Singapore. The Y1s had fun identifying which parts they lived at or had been to.
I also shared with students some of my personal photos I took when I walked the entire length from north to south in April 2016.
Video by Elaine Fong
From the Curious Garden and the videos I showed them, they could make connections to how plants, humans and abandoned structures can live together sustainable, even their own lives in Singapore, and as the Y1 unit says, share the planet.