On Wednesday 7th October, 152 children and 12 grannies piled on to coaches, set for an exciting day of dinosaurs, plants and tree-top walks at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Upon their arrival at the gardens, the children were split into fourteen groups, each representing a different country, before setting off for their day of adventures.
Five groups immediately headed to the ‘boom slang’ (meaning ‘tree snake’ in Afrikaans). This incredible structure starts as a ground level path, before gradually rising through the trees, allowing visitors to stand amongst the tree-top canopy and gaze over the gardens, whilst also getting a spectacular view of Table Mountain. Although some children were a little nervous at first, all enjoyed the experience and the views.
After this, the children made their way to the ‘enchanted forest’ area to explore the plants growing there, drawing and using crayons to take rubbings of the leaves and trees. Whilst this was happening, another group of children made their way to the fantastic ‘Extinction! Dinosaurs and Cycads?’ exhibition, where they were tasked with finding nine life-sized dinosaurs hidden amongst the gardens. The children were amazed to see the range of dinosaurs which inhabited the earth over 65 million years ago and walked happily amongst them, stomping, chomping, munching and crunching as they went! As well as allowing the children to explore the dinosaurs, this exhibition provided the opportunity to learn more about the creatures and the meaning of ‘extinction’. This also promoted discussion amongst children and adults focusing on our role in protecting the creatures and plants found within our own local environment.
Once all groups had completed their morning activities, they met for a picnic lunch and face-painting at Kirstenbosch’s famous outdoor concert area. After lunch, the groups set off to complete their activities around the gardens. The day ended with all of the children, grannies and volunteers coming back together for fun sports and games activities in the afternoon sun. The exhausted children then made their way back to the coaches after an exciting and memorable day.
As well as providing children with enjoyable and enriching experiences outside of the home and classroom environment, the GAPA enrichment trips also seek to add to the children’s educational development. As such, the children completed a dinosaur quiz before, and again after, their day at Kirstenbosch and the results showed substantial improvements in their understanding. Grade R and 1 pupils showed a 56% improvement in their understanding of what a dinosaur is and, following the trip, 86% could confidently explain that dinosaurs no longer exist. Amongst grade 2 and 3 pupils, there was a 94% improvement in understanding of where dinosaurs lived, as well as a 22% improvement in their understanding of the term ‘extinction’. Grade 4, 5, 6 and 7 pupils faced slightly more challenging questions, but also showed encouraging improvements. Following their visit to the exhibition, all of the children questioned were able to correctly identify the meaning of the word ‘carnivore’ and could also state that dinosaurs became extinct approximately 65 million years ago.
The GAPA enrichment project aims to provide children living within the community of Khayelistha with access to two extra-curricular trips each year. Following the success of our trips to Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens this year, we now look forward to plans for 2016.
Ongoing support and donations make these trips happen and The Happy Africa Foundation would like to thank all of the supporters and donors who have made this possible.