International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) - Activities
1) Getting Started
Please register with IHTEC and send for a Kit of materials.
Principal and staff choose the site. Involvement of the School Board, Groundskeepers, and requests of help can be made to the local Municipal Parks personnel.
Conduct whole school discussions regarding the proposed Peace Garden. This includes design and what items do students wish to have in the garden.
Students visit the outside space using mathematical and spatial concepts before drawing their personal designs.
Discuss impacted soil, soil types, water access, class and school use. As students participate they will discuss how to protect the garden and the plants.
Discuss individuals feelings about the garden.
Ask students to use all their senses as they select plant species.
Write a page about their own peace garden concepts.
Make a large poster with all the words involved with a peace garden.
Compose a song, write a poem or a word picture. Put them on a waterproof board in the peace garden.
Each student in the school is to draw a design of their own peace garden, on graph paper. The school then chooses a compilation of the designs. The designs can also be made into class or school booklets to be shared with other schools in the district, or taken with a student when they are on holiday.
The booklets can spread the Path of Peace by sharing other ideas with schools in their Local School Board. Students can take their booklet when they move schools or post to a school they know might need the help of a peace garden. They could also share internationally by through their own school peace garden website, which can be linked to the ISPG website. Be sure to include a copy of the ISPG brochure and invite schools to register their garden on the ISPG website.
Create a school peace garden newsletter to be distributed throughout the community.
Teachers can invent ways to use the peace garden as a tool to aid the school curriculum. The planting and management by every class, with their own garden that is part of the reason that the school continues to become safer and the community become involved and remain involved.
Add Dream Benches and the Friendship Benches for friendly conflict resolution.
2) Including the Peace Garden in the School Curriculum
The peace garden is a tool for integrated curriculum. Develop brainstorming sessions with other teachers and work links around your teaching program. Use the Peace Garden as your outdoor classroom. Subjects that fit well are:
Language arts. including linking to another country through our website, that speaks another language.
- The Arts, drawing, sculpture, painting etc
- Environmental Studies
- Environmental Law
Contact your State or Provincial Environmental Commissioner or ask the government if they have an Environmental Bill of Rights. Invite their education officer to visit you and discuss what you can do to help. Let all levels of government know the outcomes of your work.
3) Using the Peace Garden for Conflict Resolution
The Peace Garden is a positive statement of peace within the school ground and positive results have been documented. This program must be whole school so all the students are part of the solution. See our mission statement on the website and in the brochure.
The first school involved, West Humber Collegiate Institute, used a number of other actions such as using classical music between breaks, so that the students knew how long they had to go to their next classroom. Their peer mediation strategy has been enhanced by the use of the Friendship Benches and Dream Benches located in the Peace Garden. Friendship Benches can be used for young people who are hurting from bullying or other emotional hurts. Other students will be asked to help anyone who is in trouble.
4) Involving Local School Boards and Government
Contact your school board and encourage them to introduce School Peace Gardens to all the schools in your area. If your school has the first garden in your area, your students can become 'ambassadors for peace' by inviting other schools to visit your garden and encouraging them to develop gardens of their own.
There is a need for government to know what is going on. In addition to providing financial and moral support, the local government will know what environmental problems schools can help them with. They may already have a system of accounting for the local eco-system and if they don't have one, then your work may encourage them to gather this data. IHTEC is developing a math's and science program called "A Substance Accounting for Eco-Systems(R)" by Helmut Burkhardt and Julia Morton-Marr. We are looking to set up a place on our website for the sharing of this data.
5) Security Issues and Vandalism
We suggest that the peace garden is visible from all angles for ease of supervision. Apart from that there are no special safeguards. It is only by doing the planning, implementation, planting, and management as a whole school, that you can influence your school in a positive manner. Each young person will share it with their family and the school will share it with their community. This includes Local Municipal Government. Ask your students what they need to do to protect their Peace Garden. They will know what to do. If they have ownership, they will protect each plant, and keep balls and other play equipment out of the garden. The garden is a visible statement that 'this school is a place of peace', without you saying anything. It is a place for discussing conflicts in a friendly manner, a place for singing and dancing.
St. Agnes School in Chatham Ontario found that their vandalism reduced to $50 as all the students use the garden regularly and are a major part of the planning, planting, maintenance, counting of species that visit, picking vegetables to take to the food bank and so on. Each class should have a plot of land that can be used for part of their school program for each year or grade level.
6) Linking to Other Schools With Peace Gardens
We encourage you to share your experiences with other schools. Registering your Peace Garden with ISPG means your activity will be posted on this site. We will provide you with a pageset to present your school, community and Peace Garden, project activities and more. You will be able to connect and interact with ISPG schools around the world. Of course, you can link to your schools existing website also. Learn more about the easy to create websites in the School network section.
7) A Language Translation Exercise in Your Peace Garden?
We are International School Peace Gardens based in a bilingual country (Canada). Our FAQ index will lead you to pages in Français and Español, but we would be like to expand these pages and host additional pages in other languages. If you would like to help us by being a "foreign language contact" who can assist with translation, and the development of a web page in another language, we would like to hear from you. How about making it a class language project conducted, of course, in your School Peace Garden?
8) Involving Parents and the Community
IHTEC has found that parents are only too willing to find any ideas that help to keep their young people safe at school. Just focus on setting the Peace Garden up, let the parents know via newsletters, and invite them to donate and participate with their children in the planting. The planting of a School Peace Garden frequently becomes a weekend community event with families and local businesses donating time and materials.
9) Involving Your Immediate Neighbours
Invite your neighbours to a meeting and discuss what and why you are working on the Peace Garden. Tell them that they are welcome to participate by sharing their knowledge with students and teachers, or by donating plant materials from their garden. They may also like to plant a peace garden in their back yard focused on increasing the number of plant species which will attract various birds and insects. The neighbours can join with the children in keeping a record of what species are visiting the neighbours gardens. This forms an inter - generational link which is win-win.