At Caraway Elementary, we teach our kids about environmental stewardship — taking care of Earth through habitat restoration, water and energy conservation, recycling, proper disposal of materials, and more. In the spring of 2010, we became a Certified Schoolyard Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation and built a new butterfly-hummingbird habitat that is recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Texas Wildscapes Schoolyard Habitat Demonstration Site. We call it the Caraway O.W.L., or Outdoor Wildlife Lab.
To learn more about the creation of our butterfly-hummingbird garden, we invite you to visit our blog archives up through Earth Day 2010 (April 22). Be sure to take a look at our big Dig Day event, where we had more than 100 volunteers helping create our garden!
Aside from providing a habitat for butterflies and birds and other small creatures, our organic, water-wise garden is a living lab, an outdoor learning space that encourages students’ understanding of the connection between native Texas plants and the animal species that depend on them.
The large, open garden pathways encourage students to walk through and explore the wonders of nature, from witnessing the full butterfly lifecycle to studying the habits of pollinators to learning about the natural balancing of an ecosystem. Our raised sensory garden invites students to touch and smell and take delight in the unique attributes of plants.
The garden is a rich resource for outdoor learning; teachers can utilize the garden to meet a variety of curricula — math, science, language arts, and more — while getting their students out of the classroom. A love of nature begins outdoors, and that’s what this habitat is all about.
Each plant species was carefully selected for its wildlife and/or sensory value, drought-hardiness, and deer resistance. Visit our Plants page to see the full list of what is in our habitat.
And we have a new 24-gourd Purple Martin housing system.
Our beautiful woodlands are another part of our school habitat, with natural trails that guide students through a wonderland of native trees and shrubs. Vertical niches of habitat support countless native animal species.
We’ve worked hard to remove invasive plants from all over the school grounds and to increase the already vast diversity of native species. We have new native gardens cropping up all over the school grounds all the time!
What are some ways our teachers are using the school habitats to teach their students? Observing and recording different external structures or adaptations that help plants survive; real-life application of words that have the root “foli-”; nature-inspired art; study of plants as producers in a food chain; study of animals in their habitats; and more!
We welcome our caterpillars, pollinators, birds, and beneficial insects — our wild things!