Bush School at Upper Sturt Primary School means children learn how to enjoy living in, and caring for, our natural environment. We have created spaces that are aesthetically appealing and harmonious with our natural world, with a greater emphasis on the learning flowing between inside and outside, and beyond.
We have constructed a Bush Village, which includes a fire pit as a central meeting place, tipi, loose parts play, giant sandpit, natural adventure play area (climbing, swinging, crawling), outdoor kitchen, and more. The students of Upper Sturt have been directly involved in the design and creation of the Bush Village. The giant sandpit has been fondly referred to by the students as ‘SA’s biggest sandpit… other than the beach!”
In our beautiful bushland setting, children are actively learning and playing outdoors eg. they dig, grind rocks to make paint, explore and climb, paint, sculpt and interact with the physical environment. Clothing gets dirty! To ensure comfort, we suggest children wear ‘layers’ of warm clothing that will allow them to maintain appropriate body temperature needed for good learning. A spare set of clothes for all students is also required. Rain suits and comfortable clothing are essential for bush school kids. Children are encouraged to wear a hat outdoors, irrespective of season, and beanies during the winter months. Children may choose to use their own sunscreen; however, we do have sunscreen available for use at the school as we encourage everyone at Bush School to be sun smart.
The “centre” of the bush village is Tjirbruke (fire-pit area), where we share stories, sing and learn about risk assessments and safety. It is a place where we not only light fires, but ignite minds. This fire pit area is where we congregate for Circle Time as a whole school. It is also often a place for damper to be cooked, stories to be told and songs and music to be heard.
The Food Forest enhances children’s understanding of sustainable and organic survival, where all students undertake daily routines of recycling, composting and litter control. The community garden is an ongoing work in progress and we are hoping to encourage local community members to contribute to, and take part in, the beautiful gardening opportunities at Bush School. Parents regularly hold working bees to keep our school well maintained and cared for beyond the normal management by the school’s groundsperson. The food forest, a community garden connected to the school, is also regularly improved through land care grants and volunteer work by parents and children.
Just up the path into the heritage bush is the Story Telling Chair (carved from a tree stump) surrounded by natural wood benches. This space is perfect to sit and read or hear an oral story nestled between the native Australian trees. A walk through the grounds also reveals the hidden fairy toadstool table and seats, an amphitheatre with rock seating, mud kitchen, “colonial cottage” cubbyhouse and frog pond. Site plans to add additional play equipment and outdoor shaded shelters for learning are also underway as part of our fundraising for potential future site improvements.