Students develop their detective skills in learning why our local parks are so important.

Kids exploring what they've found in the parkHands-on activities enable them to describe the key roles of birds, insects and trees in balanced ecosystems.

Students then engage in a problem-solving process to propose action for a sustainable future.

Year level   3 to 6
Curriculum level  1 to 4
Availability All year round
Times 9.30am to 12noon, or 
12.15pm to 2.30pm
Sites Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Halswell Quarry Park
Cost  Free
Number of students  Maximum of 35

Risk analysis and management (RAM)

Programme outline

Key concepts

How biodiversity is connected within a park environment, identification, pollination, animals, as decomposers, photosynthesis, sustainability.

Lesson description/intentions

At the Botanic Gardens, students investigate the meaning of a balanced ecosystem and understand why these key roles are so important to our lives as humans. They will start by tuning their ears into native birds that visit the gardens before completing a sound map to log their data. Next they will then use a range of scientific  equipment to go on an insect hunt. Then they visit a native tree to see how the various roles are connected. Their final task is to problem solve ways to encourage this balanced ecosystem in their own green spaces.

Activities can be adjusted according to your students age, attention span and interest levels.

Possible success criteria

Students may be able to:

  • name at least two of the birds, trees and/or insects that like to live in the native area of the Botanic Gardens
  • explain the important role birds, insects and/or trees have in our natural environment
  • explore and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations about how a balanced ecosystem works
  • use a range of scientific vocabulary (pollination, decomposition and/or photosynthesis)
  • identify actions to encourage a balanced ecosystem in their local parks and green spaces.

Key competencies

  • Using language, symbols, and texts – students use oral, written and visual texts to understand key terms of this perfectly balanced ecosystem.
  • Thinking – students will use creative, critical and meta-cognitive processes to:
    1. investigate how each of the roles of the ecosystem is connected; and 
    2. consider the impact and wider consequences if one role is low/depleted.
  • Managing self – encouraging students to use their senses to actively create a thorough understanding of the key roles of this ecosystem by presenting them with various kinaesthetic learning activities.
  • Relating to others – students are expected to work together in teams, to develop their excellent detective skills.
  • Participating and contributing – students are encouraged to problem solve ways they can encourage a rich and healthy ecosystem in their own local communities.
Learning Area Strands Curriculum level Achievement objectives
Science Nature of science 1 to 3
  • Understanding about science: identify ways scientist work to provide evidence to support ideas
  • Investigating in science: explore and find evidence, ask questions, carry our investigations
  • Communicating in science: build scientific vocabulary/language and develop understanding
  • Participating and contributing: explore an issue, make decisions about possible actions
Science Living world 1 to 3
  • Life processes: need things to stay alive
  • Ecology: how living things are suited to habitat, what a habitat looks like
  • Evolution: begin to group animals into scientific-based classifications
Science Planet Earth and beyond 1 to 3
  • Earth systems: explore and describe natural features and resources, appreciate that soil and air and life forms make up our planet

Please note:

For morning programme, students will have a late morning tea (about 11am). Please make sure they are well fed and watered.

Please also have your class divided into four teams. These will be their detective teams and allocated a colour (green, yellow, blue, red).


"Enjoyed the hands-on activities, the map exercise, the station activities. The timing was perfect" – Teacher, Year 3/4