École Cedardale K, Gr 1 and Gr 3

Arts Education, Geography, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies


École Cedardale Elementary, West Vancouver



Renelle Allard

Jessica Hall

Stina Morissette


Artist(s) & Subject Matter Experts

Pia Massie

Paul Morissette

Cease Wyss



Three French Immersion classes of Kindergarten, Grade K/1 and Grade 3 students


Connection to the Vancouver Biennale Exhibition

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Echoes (Michel Goulet, Canada) – Drawing from the placement of the chairs in different directions and the bilingual poems found on the seat of the chairs, students discussed how different perspectives affect how we connect to one another.

Vancouver Biennale 2014 – 2016 Artist: Andy Goldsworthy

Rivers and Tides, a documentary about land art artist Andy Goldsworthy

The curatorial theme of the Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016 Exhibition is Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver. This project relates to the theme in many ways:

  • Opens the borders within the school through this collaborative project
  • Brings the community into the school through shared experience
  • Students are at a crossroad of development and will continue to grow with the garden
  • Crosses the borders of curriculum subjects in creating a cross-curricular and service based learning approach

Other Sources of Inspiration

  • Local green spaces including, parks, gardens, wild areas, community gardens
  • Children led projects (e.g., Reggio Emilia documented examples such as “Fragrant Garden” and “The Park”)
  • Land Art examples
  • Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden
  • Skwáchays Lodge, Vancouver


Primary students worked alongside experts in landscape design, aboriginal knowledge and poetry to create a perennial garden space that reflects the school’s evolving identity, enhancing community pride and creating a connection between cultural and individual identity to landscape art and design. Students explored their school’s identity and how it has evolved over time, beginning with a look into the features that make up their own individual identities as learners. Through a field trip to Echoes and Kits Beach, students were challenged to explore differing perspective and our connections to the environment and the people around us. Working with artists and subject experts, students learnt about landscape design, plants and aboriginal history in order to forge a connection with their school, the land’s ancestry and to become mindful of their inherited and shared spaces. Reflecting on how they can use plants to reflect the identity of their school, students created a perennial garden that can be used as an educational and community space for their school for years to come.



Community pride is fostered through a sense of ownership, appreciation, and connection to place


Guiding Questions

  • How does understanding our personal identity help us to appreciate our community? What role does diversity play, if any?
  • In what ways, if any, is community reflected in our surroundings?
  • Who and what have impacted the community and its landscape over time? What has had lasting impact and why?
  • How might participating in the BIG IDEAS project help to develop our school’s feeling of identity, community and pride?

Curriculum Access

Arts Education: Students explored colour theory and gardening, landscape and art design and the way that art can communicate community and culture.

Geography: Students learnt about different soil and plants that are native to British Columbia. Students learnt about directions and mapping in designing their garden site and how to track the direction of the sun.

Language Arts: Students conducted research through interviews, learning vocabulary while documenting their project through poems and a presentation of their experience.

Mathematics: Students utilized patterns, geometry, measurements, budgeting and numbers found in nature through their landscape designs and land art projects.

Science/Self-Regulation: Students inquired into the life cycle of trees, and the important part trees play for living things, as their production of oxygen is vital for human life. In turn, students learnt calm and self-soothing practices to self-regulate through breathing, and by connecting to the earth/environment through the trees.

Social Studies: Through their field trip to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden, workshops with an aboriginal plant expert and creating a garden that reflects their own school’s culture, students learnt about how different cultures are influenced by the local environment and contact with other cultures.


Learning Process

Exploring Identity Through Art:

To begin the project, every class collected beautiful things from the beach, the park and their own home to make collages, self-portraits and poems. In choosing their own beautiful things and comparing them with their peers, students reflected on identity, perspective and the different ways that they, their family and their school choose to be represented. With help from artist Pia Massie, students created Valentine’s day collages and poems inspired by Rivers and Tides about landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy that investigated how to create a sense of belonging through art and the possibilities of the natural materials found in their environment.

Creating Connections to Place and the Environment:

On a field trip to Echoes, students were asked to sit on chairs facing in different directions and to connect to their surroundings. Like the chairs facing multiple directions, students discussed differing perspectives and how our connections to those around us affects our sense of belonging and the ways in which we can gather and connect. They took rubbings of the bilingual poems found on the chairs with different materials, discussing the communicative power of the inscriptions in class. Students gathered materials from the beach to create Andy Goldsworthy inspired art installations in the park, using natural materials to create beautiful spaces for fellow park goers and to practice designs for their garden. Cease Wyss, an aboriginal plant expert, helped students identify local flora and its traditional and medicinal uses, teaching them ethical planting techniques and the ways in which plants, like people, interact with one another.

Garden Design and Planting:

Students went on a field trip to Skwachays Lodge, a hotel and aboriginal art gallery, and were inspired by the design concept boards used to design the new hotel. They visited Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden to learn about its history and garner an appreciation for garden design and cultural iconography, investigating how cultural identity can be reflected in landscape design. Students learnt more about the ancestry and culture of their own school and created concept boards for their garden. Architect Paul Morissette presented workshops with the grade 1s and 3s on design, emphasizing the importance of marking North in any garden design in order to know when and where there will be sunlight. Students presented their garden design ideas, took exact measurements of the garden and created a site sketch which Paul’s team used to create a site drawing with computer software. Paul then presented the site sketch to the Kindergarten students for their feedback and learning. Finally, students planted their garden as a celebration with their school using their new knowledge of medicinal plants, their school’s history and the ways in which garden design and natural art can foster a sense of belonging and community. The garden will be used as a gathering space and example of service-based learning for the school and community.


Student Creation

•   Beautiful things arrangements

•   Valentine collages

•   Personal poems

•   Poems inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

•   Designing and building a perennial garden including:

•   Concept boards

•   A school crest made with rocks and flowers

•   Developing a native medicinal teaching garden

•   Plaques made from stumps

•   Poetry in rocks

•   Documentation Panels

•   Class Blog


Taking Action

A student-led exhibition of learning will showcase the garden and their learning journey using documentation and technology for families and the community. The documentation will be used to provide an example of cross-curricular and service-based learning that can be used to inspire future projects through the Vancouver Biennale and beyond. Families will be inspired to engage in community gardens or to create personal gardens with their children. Children will serve as leaders when they are out in the community and use their knowledge of botany on personal and school arranged outings. Finally, students will have tremendous ownership over their school garden for years to come and can liaise with the Squamish Nation to utilize the teaching garden to connect with curriculum in personalized and meaningful ways.


Time Line


•  Beautiful things project including a collage of beautiful things, a self-portrait and a rock wall.

Project prompts include: How do my likes differ from others? How do I, my family and my school represent our identity?

•  Valentines collage with Pia Massie focusing on noticing the unseen

•  Screening of Rivers and Tides, documentary about Andy Goldsworthy

•  Poetry workshop with Pia inspired by Rivers and Tides. Writing prompts include: What is all around you? What is here to stay and what isn’t?


•  Art inquiry visit to Echoes at Kits beach Echoes

Students respond to questions such as: Why did the artist put the chairs in different directions? Which chair do you like best and why? What do you see from that chair?

•  Andy Goldsworthy inspired installations made in the park

•  Aboriginal plant consultation with Cease Wyss


•  Field trip to Skwáchays Lodge to view planning boards and learn about aboriginal culture

•  Field trip to Dr. Sun Yat Sen to learn about garden design and cultural iconography

•  Creation of concept boards and garden designs

•  Design workshops with Paul Morissette


•  Finalizing the design of the garden and gathering materials

•  Final sharing session and planting of the garden



Coming soon