On the spot

11th November 2005 at 00:00
Year 5 Teacher Anne Puddephatt, the Duke's Middle School, Alnwick

When Alison spoke of how a lemon tree's sap can cause dermatitis, I was reminded of my childhood in Trinidad, sitting in a mango tree after school.

We had to be careful, as the twigs could burn. The visit was as evocative for our children. Alison holds the children's attention with inspirational stories which we will follow up in class. Some will have a go at recalling one or more of the tales they've heard today, while others will try inventing new plant folklore.

The garden was also a great way of opening up discussions about drugs and I like the approach Alison took, explaining how, for three people out of four, casual usage of something like marijuana will have no impact, but for the fourth it could have serious health consequences. In the context of all the other poisonous plants here it's easier for children to get the message about the dangers of tobacco and other drugs. Some of the plants'

Shakespearean associations were helpful ahead of the children tackling Macbeth.

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