Guiding at Macritchie Reservoir

For the past 2 Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ve been going to Macritchie Reservoir to bring P3 students from Kuo Chuan Primary School for a walk along Prunus trail (the shorter version).

This was an extension of our Raffles Ecological Literacy Programme, where we discussed human-nature relationships, ecological issues, Man’s impact on the environment and our local natural heritage. Our group dwindled to a nice small compact group of 6 (comprising Mei Jia, Shi Ying, Natalie, Sean and Abel), and we produced a children’s book “A Terrapin’s Tale: The Story of Terrence and the Fish that Walked” as part of our project. The book is targeted at P3/P4 students, and consists of the story, a mini guide sheet to common flora and fauna along the Prunus trail as well as a guide to writing a nature journal.

Cover spread without the title and stuff

Our book is about invasive species in Macritchie Reservoir. We initially wanted to focus on the Red-eared Sliders, but due to certain issues, we made the Giant Snakehead fish the bad guy instead.

So anyway, we launched our book at last year’s Outdoor Education Conference and had quite a positive response from the educators there. Our tireless teacher (Mr Daniel Goh) subsequently liaised with Kuo Chuan Primary School and we ended up bringing their Primary 3 students to Macritchie Reservoir for a walk as part of MOE’s Programme for Active Learners.

Before our walk, on the third day, our editor Ms Grace Leng from Creative Kids came to give us some tips on guiding.

Pre-trip briefing

Then we went over to Macritchie to receive the kids

Kuo Chuan kids offloading from the bus

Kids lining up in Twos.

Our programme with them comprised two main parts, drawing and walking the trail. Our artists for the book, art students from RJ (Adorabelle, Jazlyn, Kuang Yi and Wei Li) taught them how to draw the main characters of our book, namely the Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), Giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes) and Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator).

Teaching the kids art

These kids are quite cute. They will take out their picnic mats and sit on them. Though I do think it’s quite sad as well that kids these days are so out-of-touch with nature that they wont even just sit on grass :/ hasty generalisation maybe, but i do hope that this generation of kids that grew up with iPads and iPhones will still know and appreciate our natural heritage!

our red-eared slider

I didn’t manage to take any photos of us conducting the walks, or of many things during the walks. But we saw a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo that landed quite close to us and I couldn’t not take it (: though it isn’t a very good picture.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)

Not very good close-up

Sorry, I know my focus for the first photo is wrong. But I was in a rush!

During the walk, I would usually (subject to the guai-ness of the kids) talk about the Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) and Poh Chai pills, the Ant Plant (Macaranga bancana), Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) and our $5 note, lianas and Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), as well as about the terrapins, long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), squirrels, crickets and whatever other animals that appear. We also read our book to the kids(: some of whom really think the events in our book actually happened haha.

I also try to impress upon the kids the importance of our forests. They seem to understand, but I wonder if they really do. And if they’ll grow up and remember what we say to them.

It was tiring guiding the kids, but also a good experience. I’ve left primary school so long that I’ve forgotten how primary school used to be. But it’s also saddening to know that so many kids barely know our local flora and fauna. Then again, I only started knowing when I was in upper secondary, so they can’t quite be blamed. I do wish that MOE would have a heavier emphasis on it.

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About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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