Panyaden Summer School’s theme this week is ‘water’. Yesterday, everyone first went to Ob Khan National Park in the morning to observe aquatic life and splash around in the cool river.
In the afternoon, we each spent time observing ice melting and condensing into little droplets that are then released into the air to combine with other water vapors to form clouds. After that, we all changed into our swimsuits and jumped into our school pool to enjoy the refreshing water to cool off again on this hot summer day in Chiang Mai.
Finally, we washed the little rocks we had collected from Ob Khan and around our school for painting interesting patterns for use as ornaments or just simply creative pieces of art.
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Rocks and minerals can be fun to learn about through exploratory games and activities like scavenger hunts and grinding them down to create art and craft projects. Our focus for Panyaden’s Summer School week 3 is on the importance of these natural elements that make up the earth’s crust and mantle. Children are naturally curious and love going on field trips, making things with their hands and learning through creative activities. They get excited when they can see, touch and smell different textures, colours and shapes. This week, they get to play geologists and rock hunters going around the school campus and at the Obkhan National Park to collect rocks and stones that capture their imagination.
These specimens are then identified, sorted and categorized by the children according to colours or mineral content, shapes or textures before they present them to their friends and teachers. They talk about where they found the rocks; the mineral content, for example, the red in a rock is a clue that it contains iron; that a smooth one found near a stream may mean that water movement over a period of time has rounded it. All these activities integrate science, geology and art. They aim to encourage children to think logically, to work both individually and in teams, using their skills and creativity to develop a personal awareness, care and love of all of nature’s gifts.
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One of nature’s most important gifts
Summer often brings hot and muggy days; so it was wonderful when our Panyaden teachers taught us about water this week by allowing us to play in it at the Obkhan National Park! Needless to say, we did not need any persuasion to jump into the lake to look for small creatures like fish, crabs and shells using ‘nets’ that we made out of twigs, string and large dried leaves we found near the lake. What fun! We learnt a lot about the need for water to flow properly and not remain static; and although some of us shrieked at the mention of this, the nymphs and larvae of insects such as the mayfly and dragonfly do need good quality water that do not contain midge larvae or red worms in order to live and grow.
Water covers more than 70% of the earth. It is one of nature’s most important gifts to us. All living things from humans to small creatures like insects, fish and crabs require good quality water to survive. But we learnt this week that this quantity of water is limited and keeps going around and around in what is called ‘the water cycle’.
Our teachers showed us this cycle and other qualities and aspects of water through charts and games. We really enjoyed the games especially the human boat we created by sitting down in a circle, putting our hands on the shoulders of the person in front of us and swaying like we were moving on water. We even stood outside our classrooms to stare at and observe the clouds to learn about how they are formed when water from plants and trees ‘sweat’ or transpire, then evaporate and condense in the air. We learnt that when the clouds cannot hold the water anymore, they release it and it falls to the earth as rain. Then it soaks into the earth and becomes ground water for animals and plants to live on and drink from. Or it collects into lakes, oceans and ponds where it will eventually evaporate when it is heated by the sun and the cycle starts again.
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Hands-on learning experience at the Botanical Garden
The theme for this week’s Panyaden Summer School was ‘Trees’. What better way to study and experience the beauty and usefulness of local and exotic trees than a trip to the aesthetic Northern Thai Literary Botanical Garden preserved in a large expanse of forest at the foothills of Doi Suthep?
The children were led by our teachers along the Arboretum and other trails at the garden to see and touch these wonders of nature. They were encouraged to feel the textures, to appreciate the many different shapes and colours, and to hear the gentle music created by the rustling leaves. They learnt the names and functions of trees and flora, and how the Botanical Garden plays an important role in conserving these natural resources for environmental, educational and aesthetic purposes.
Everyone had fun collecting interesting branches and leaves of different shapes and sizes as we explored the trails. These were later pressed and used to build unusual houses and cities. Throughout the week, the children immersed themselves in creative activities like drawing and painting the shapes of leaves and flowers, making cards and hanging mobiles and talking about the art they have made with these elements.
Through these fun activities, our students learnt that trees provide materials for creative activities as well as shade, beauty and oxygen. Their bark, fruits and leaves can also be sources of food, drink and colour. Hence the children also spent the week making juices from fruits and dyes from the leaves of various trees – all part of our hands-on learning experience about nature and the environment at Panyaden’s Summer School.
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Fun with Trees!
Trees play an important part in our lives. They give us paper, wood, fruit and medicine. They beautify our gardens and absorb carbon dioxide from our environment whilst giving off oxygen essential for our survival and good health. And so trees were the main focus on our first day of Summer School at Panyaden whose theme this year is ‘Our Environment, Our Future’.
The day started with icebreaker games, singing and dancing organised by our teachers from Panyaden and Rabbit In The Moon Foundation to welcome our summer school students. After some fun getting-to-know-you games, our students proceeded outdoors for a nature walk around the school campus to learn more about the importance of trees. During the walk, they picked up leaves and seeds dropped from fruit trees. Armed with these treasures, our children went back to the classrooms and created new and existing species of insects with the seeds. They then drew and cut out shapes of animals after which they stuck on colourful leaves. The objective was to let the children experience not only the importance of trees in our environment but to find creative ways of expressing their usefulness and beauty through art and play.
Stay tuned for more blog updates on summer school activities in the coming weeks! If you wish to enrol your child for this summer school, please contact Khun Boy on mobile: 0800 785 115 (English and Thai) or email him at Boy@panyaden.ac.th.