Place-Thought Walk

Melton Botanic Garden was the selected site for place-thought walk. The Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to visit with kindergarten children for educational purpose. Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden, volunteers, maintain the garden to make it fit for walking and biking.

Visitors to Melton Botanic Garden have the opportunity to enjoy the place’s diverse fauna and flora. There are more than a hundred species of dry-land eucalyptus and diverse varieties of birds, insects, and reptiles (City of Melton, 2022). Children can, thus, explore the habitat to familiarise with garden wildlife and study plants.

The first people in this particular place  (Melton, Victoria)

The first people in this locality were the Aborigines. Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are the two groups that form the country’s  indigenous people. The indigenous population remained hunters and gatherers even in the modern times. Aboriginals are believed to originate from Asia, and have occupied Australia for close to 50,000 years (Tonkinson & Berndt, 2018).

 They are largely nomadic though historical evidence shows that these Aboriginal people practised agriculture and aquaculture. Tonkinson and Berndt (2018) stated that arrival of  British in 1788 interfered with Aboriginal people’s autonomy. Expansion of British settlement in Australia resulted in loss of Aboriginal land, disruption of their economic activities, and desecration of the property and sacred places.

Arrangements for the place-thought walk?

3 kindergarten children, aged 3-5 years, participated in the walk. It was a habitat lesson that required children to walk through the garden and observe different animal and plant species. The Botanic Garden’s management had to be informed about the intention to visit the place so a proper date would be set and the areas of interest made ready for the visit.

The management had to know the number of children in attendance, their ages, and the particular plants and animals they would see. I also organised for a standalone camera to take pictures at the garden.   

How to establish provocations of play in this place

Play is incorporated in educational context through teaching/learning methods that encourage inclusion, active involvement of learners, and target holistic skills development (Parker, Thomsen, & Berry, 2022). I would focus of learning activities that promote discovery of the world as well as numeracy, socio-emotional, creativity, language, and motor skill development. For world discovery, the children can use their senses for exploration and establish interest in the natural world.

As children listen to stories about the garden and its species or speak with the teacher and peers, their language and literacy skills will get stronger. Children’s creativity can develop when they share ideas or feelings my mimicking animals’  movements and rhythm. On the other hand, counting plants and exploring patterns in nature would strengthen numeracy skills and the involved physical activities can boost motor skills through balance, control, and coordination. Maintaining respect for self, biodiversity, others, and the environment at large will nurture socio-emotional skills in the social context.   

 “Past-present” and “connection with place”

The Melton Pinnacles by artist Stephen Newton conveys the message that the garden is after preserving cultural values of the Aboriginals over layers of time. The most noticeable object that links Melton Botanic Garden to Aboriginal people is the Eucalyptus cladocalyx, Sugar Gum, one of the 100 eucalyptus species in the garden (City of Melton, 2022).

The Sugar Gum tree was very valuable to these indigenous people in the ancient times (McDonald, Rawlings, Butcher, & Bell, 2003). In ancient Aboriginal society, sugar gum served medicinal purpose especially in treating wounds, cuts, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory illnesses. Eucalyptus is still used today for medicinal purposes in Australia. Additional uses in modern times include timber, furniture, firewood, flooring, and as windbreak.

Children’s voices when planning the experience/s 

After deciding the place to visit for the walk, I created a list of all the play-based activities often used in the classroom and invited the children to vote for the learning practices they found most interesting. I employed the pedagogy of listening (Boardman, 2020).

Daily conversations and question-answer sessions proved useful in sharing information and instructions. Observing the children’s participation in play-based activities also helped to assess how enjoyable they found each. For clarification, I held a short session with the children after each play-based classroom activity to seek their opinion and feedback.

How the children relate to the collected artefacts

Collected artefacts included pictures of various trees, pictures of children as they studied various plants and animals at the garden, and dry leaves of key plants like Sugar Gum. The children discussed the artefacts  with peers and me (their teacher) as a way of reflecting on what they learned at the garden.

Discussions enabled the children to link their old and new knowledge. Asking them questions about the artefacts also helped me to assess the children’s level of understanding and how the artefacts have enabled them to learn about the indigenous people.

Embedding the indigenous concepts in my centre?

I will contextualise curriculum through culture to capture the contexts and realities that are relevant to the learning process (Fernandes, Leite, Mouraz, & Figueiredo, 2013). The relevant  activities and materials from indigenous people’s lives will be included in classroom instruction.

The materials and artefacts of indigenous people will be used in play-based classroom activity, and will not be simply displayed in culture corners.  The strategy will encourage celebration of culture, race relations, education, and acceptance of historical events.   


The place-thought walk at Melton Botanic Garden enabled the children explore the diverse species of plants and animals. It also introduced the children to study of indigenous people and interacting with artefacts from the garden helped the young learners to appreciate the contexts and realities of the local area where their schooling occurs.

Further strategies such as contextualisation of curriculum will increase the children’s interaction with artefacts that represent the lives of indigenous people and lead to acknowledgement and appreciation of different cultures.