Wondering how to get your children interested about the natural world around them? Blangah Rise Primary School has got you covered. The teachers and students have produced an illustrated book about dragonflies, based on the biodiversity around their school.
In Telok Blangah Hill Park there lives a family of dragonflies. Due to climate change, the dragonflies’ water source dries up. The family leaves in search for a new home. They come across Berlayer Creek and meet new friends who help them adapt to the new surroundings…
Passionate about caring for the environment, teachers and students from Blangah Rise Primary School came together to produce a children’s story book. Titled The Green Dragonflies and Their Swampy Friends, they wanted to use the book to spread the word about environmental issues, and how we can all play a part in caring for the green spaces and wildlife around us.
To kickstart the process, three teachers – Mrs Jenny Quek (Head of Department for Science), Mr Samuel Ooi (Head of Department for Character and Citizenship Education), and Mr Muhammad Salim (Subject Head for Student Management) – researched the topics of biodiversity and climate change and considered how it can be explained to children.
Mrs Jenny Quek, Mr Muhammad Salim and Mr Samuel Ooi on a learning journey to Berlayer Creek to find out more about the flora and fauna there.
Then, they crafted an overarching storyline that would inform the rest of the creative process. “We spotted a few dragonflies in our school’s Blooming Garden,” Mrs Quek says, “so, we decided to have dragonflies as our main characters in the story book.” She added that they also wanted the story to provide young readers with a better understanding of the impact of humans on the natural world, and action they can take to help the environment.
Bringing students into the fold
Next, Ms Aprilene Goh, Head of Department for English Language, decided to rope in one of her P6 students, Zhi Lin, who had shown interest in creative writing.
Ms Aprilene Goh working with student writer Zhi Lin to find inspiration from some of her favourite books.
Zhi Lin says, “The story writing experience was extremely fun and interesting. I got to test my creative thinking and writing skills during the characterisation process. I sought advice from my friends, teachers, and referred to famous children’s story books for inspiration. While writing the story, I learnt to persevere even in the toughest times just like the family of dragonflies in the story.”
Capturing the beauty of nature
Working with the storyline, Art teachers brought the characters and storybook setting to life with illustrations. They researched the real-life homes of dragonflies and captured these through watercolour painting and digital vector illustrations.
Art teacher Sharon Lee says, “Through showcasing the beauty of nature and relatable characters, I hope that children reading this book will be encouraged to take positive environmental action and live more sustainably as individuals and as a community.”
Art teachers, Ms Yanti Rahim, Ms Sharon Lee and Mrs Esther Loh (not pictured), discussed possible illustrations that would go into the book.
Diving into the world of dragonflies
Besides the story, the book contains some photographs of dragonflies, included as learning cards with descriptions of their unique characteristics.
Dragonfly learning cards are included in the book. These feature photographs of some of the 15 species of dragonflies, taken by the school’s HOD ICT. The cards are accompanied with a brief description of their unique characteristics.
Ms Teresa Leong, Head of Department for ICT, put her passion for photography to capturing these dragonflies found in the parks near Blangah Rise Primary School and around Singapore.
Ms Leong capturing pictures of a female Common Parasol dragonfly at Labrador Park’s Dragonfly Pond, a stone’s throw from Blangah Rise Primary School.
She contacted NParks to find out more about the characteristics of the different dragonflies. “Through the photographs, I hope the readers are able to identify unique characteristics of the dragonflies and appreciate the biodiversity around them more,” she says.
The book also includes a recurring ‘Did You Know?’ segment that contains interesting facts, and a glossary of vocabulary with additional information that parents can look up with their children after reading the book.
Spreading the word about dragonflies and biodiversity
With the publication of the book, student leaders conducted storytelling sessions at MK@Blangah Rise, Library@harbourfront and Singapore Botanic Gardens (during the Festival of Biodiversity).
Blangah Rise Primary storytellers take to the stage, enthralling their audience at Library@harbourfront with the story of The Green Dragonflies and Their Swampy Friends.
It provided them with the opportunity to hone their public speaking and storytelling skills. P5 student Athan says, “I took on the role of Pepper Green (one of the characters in the story). I enjoyed the storytelling process because I was able to use the oral communication skills I learnt in class. From this experience, I am now able to put forth my thoughts with confidence.”
Check out some pages of the book and learn more about related programmes at Blangah Rise Primary School at https://blangahrisepri.moe.edu.sg/our-distinctive-programmes/special-projects/the-green-dragonflies-and-their-swampy-friends/
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