Blue Hills College infants teachers, Julie Jackson and Allison Parkinson have taken the challenge of a PBL (Project Based Learning) to an exciting new level and loved the journey with their classes of Pre Kindy and Kindergarten. With a beautiful untouched but inaccessible rainforest area, right on the school grounds, they, along with their classes, decided to make it an enjoyable place where students could visit. The area includes a flowing creek and water hole under a canopy of tall trees. The teachers were aware of this untouched area and decided to challenge their classes with the driving question - Where is a new area in our school environment that could be used to discover, explore and enjoy?
What was necessary to provide them with such an area? Trees, flowing water and a path. With that, they set to work. They explored North, South, East and West. They then discovered the tall trees, (an area usually out of bounds to the children)They heard running water but this area that had no access. So, with scissors and some help from the school gardener, they made a path into the area and discovered the creek, water hole and a beautiful peaceful environment in a rainforest. It was decided to call it the 'Blue Hills Billabong' after a study on the meaning of ‘billabong’.
Plans were drawn up and class discussions took place, followed by the affirmations with stickers by other students. It was thought by the students that a bridge may be needed to cross across the creek, so lessons were done with bridge building, the importance of bridges and listening to experts on bridge-building. Week by week the children were engaged in the project, helping out with making seats from logs, putting together wood to make a campfire, clearing the area and placing gravel along the path, so it would be less muddy.
Finally, the day for public announcement had arrived. Many of the children from the classes attend the North Coast Adventurers Club which both teachers lead. So the last meeting of Adventurers was very exciting as it was an outdoor one around the campfire at the Blue Hills Billabong. Around forty-five parents and children enjoyed the outdoor exercise. A treasure hunt of Bible promises was held and their fruit had to be picked from the trees! Elijah then appeared and told the story of Brook Cherith and how he was fed by ravens. Mysteriously, some birds continued to drop food while he was speaking to us! Since then the school principal Mr Neuhoff joined the classes for ‘Mm’ week and helped cook marshmallows on the campfire. It has taken a full term to complete the project but the children are very excited about their newest adventure.