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Sights and sounds of nature indoors at Port Moody school

Seaview students don't have to go far to learn about B.C. plants and animals and First Nations culture in the school's Nature Room

This week’s snow and frost didn’t stop a group of elementary school students from enjoying nature.

But instead of donning boots and coats for a frigid field trip, this group of Seaview elementary students was searching for seashells, sorting rocks, identifying birds and animals, doing puzzles, reading books, counting rings in a tree stump and learning about the solar system.

And they did it all inside, in the school’s Nature Room.

“Can I touch the ducks?” asked one child.

“How do I put this on?” asked another, donning a mink stole that is part of a Canadian fur-bearing animals display.

“This is broken,” said another, as librarian and Nature Room creator Sheri Evans picked up a broken container from an inquiring hand and stuck it on a counter.

“We’re learning as we go,” said Evans, who noted her multi-disciplinary, hands-on room with its many displays is a way to teach children about nature and First Nations’ culture without worrying about the rain.

But the room — featuring colourful murals, painted by Evans herself, and dozens of displays — is more than just an escape from the elements.
It’s a delight for kids and a learning resource for teachers.

One year ago, Evans came up with the idea and convinced her principal, Frank Pearse, to let her have the room for the interactive displays. She took her colleagues for a field trip to a similar nature room at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver and, since then, colleagues, family and friends helped provide items.

School District 43 works crews also painted the walls as a blank canvas and the ceiling blue for the sky, which helped Evans. Then she got to work.
Her artistic ability turned a bland cinder-block room into a mini Science World — complete with the havoc and fun of raised voices pushing buttons, caressing fur, playing with traditional First Nations clothes and talking sticks or lying among pillows in a darkened nook.

“Basically it’s everything I could possibly collect that had to deal with B.C. animals and other provinces,” Evans said. “I thought it would be so cool to have something they can come and touch and feel that didn’t require them to stand out in the rain.”

There are also live stick bugs to watch and alevin-stage salmon growing in a tank and the sound of bird song in the air.

With so much of the revised curriculum dealing with nature and lessons based on inquiry (answering a question), the room is perfect for classes of all ages up to Grade 8 and field trips are available on Mondays.

And more lessons are being created by Evans at home to freshen up the exhibit. To find out more about upcoming field trips, contact Seaview elementary school principal, [email protected].