Okanagan Landing Elementary students Hailyn Willett

Okanagan Landing Elementary students Hailyn Willett

Class not just painting flowers

Okanagan Landing elementary students learn about native and invasive plants through Artstarts.

Okanagan Landing Elementary Grade 4 and 5 students in Sheila Monroe’s class have taken a new look at the natural world around them with their Artstarts project on healthy ecosystems.

The project, supported by a grant from the B.C. Arts Council, the school’s parental advisory council, and donations from local suppliers, helped students learn about native and invasive plants and the birds and bees necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

Local experts talked to the students about plants and animals and artist Deb Humphries Friedman taught the students how to do lino block prints for T-shirts and banners.

“The students are really committed and passionate and they’ve done so much work and learned so much,” said Monroe, who is proud that the students’ work has been selected to be part of a B.C. Arts Council show in Vancouver this summer to showcase Artstarts projects from around the province.

“I enjoyed working with the class. This is a fantastic example of cross-curriculum learning, math, biology, research and art. The teacher, students, and everyone involved have done a great job,” said Humphries Friedman.

The students were eager to talk about the project.

“I liked the art we did for the poster and banner,” said Hailyn Willett. “I found five of the invasives in our yard. You have to be careful of the oxeye daisy because one flower can have 26,000 seeds. And orange hawkweed and wild mustard are also invasive. The yellow flag iris, not garden iris, which grows in marshy areas, can choke water flow for species that need it.”

Emma Breugon made her lino block print of the yellow flag iris with the international symbol for “not allowed” as a reminder of what the plant can do.

Connor Daly liked learning about the birds of the area.

“We learned about the morning dove and the goldfinch and a lot of native plants. The nodding onion (allium cernuum) was used by First Nations as food. And we should have milkweed because the Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on it,” he said.

The students found a number of invasive plant species on the school grounds.

“People think these plants are pretty and so they spread them around but there are lots of native plants that are pretty that you can plant,” said MacKenna Doyle.