A deck of cards can be fun. Can they also be educational? The Metchosin Foundation’s new set of plant cards, featuring 50 of the most common plants around Metchosin, feels to the hand like a pack of overly large playing cards. The cards are printed on glossy, water-proof, heavy stock paper. But there the resemblance ends. Instead of suits and numbers, the cards have pictures (with inset close-ups) of the plants on one side. On the reverse is a description of the plants’ appearances, habitats, and uses. Written in a simple, jargon-free prose that most intermediate students should be able to read, the cards also introduce and define 50 important botanical terms.
The plant cards were developed as part of a series of Metchosin Foundation initiatives to help increase awareness of the natural environmental among the young people of Southern Vancouver Island. Teachers from local schools, when interviewed about their instructional needs, expressed an interest in a set of cards for classroom use that would have pictures and descriptions of everyday local organisms. The Foundation set up a project team of local photographers, naturalists, and educators to develop the cards. The team included (in alphabetical order) Danny Buchanan, Beverly Hall, Kem Luther, Andy MacKinnon, and Moralea Milne.
The team analyzed data from the Metchosin BioBlitzes in order to determine which plants young people were most like to encounter in the field. As a result, 22 per cent of the card set (11 of them) are introduced, mostly invasive plants. The bulk of the cards, however, represent common native species. Pictures for the cards came from local photographers and from Wikimedia royalty-free sources.
Sets of the nature cards were donated to local schools by the Metchosin Foundation and printable versions have been made available on the web to all teachers. Boxed sets of the nature cards are also available for purchase. Cost of the set is $35 (plus shipping, if necessary), with all proceeds going to the Metchosin Foundation. Ordering information can be found at http://metchosinbiodiversity.com/tools. The boxed cards make great gifts. If you have connections with non-Metchosin schools, consider donating sets of the cards to them.