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Interested in everything that can happen in children's garden

From the mouths of ambassadors

I have a small, but lovely, crop of new fifth grade Garden Ambassadors for the year.  Last week most of them “tested” to get their official t-shirts.  After reading garden notes and practicing with me, they each gave the full garden tour, proving they are ready to host campus visitors by themselves.  It’s a big moment when they receive their official gear.  Here are some of their funny and profound thoughts on being ambassadors, from their applications.  Enjoy!

What do you think are good qualities for a Garden Ambassador to have?

“I think a Garden Ambassador should be sweet, charming and funny. I think they should occasionally make a joke, but not joke too much.  A good Garden Ambassador should speak to their guest with respect.  I also think that they should speak with a lot of personality, and not just speak in monotone.”

“…Garden Ambassadors, every single one of them, should have your full attention.  They should be able to control themselves and be a good example for everyone.  THEY ARE IN FIFTH GRADE!”

Why would you like to serve as a Garden Ambassador?

“I enjoy meeting new people!  I also want to put to the test how charming and funny I can be without blowing it. I find that meeting lots of new, eccentric people with expose me to different personalities.”

“My Mom has a big garden.  I would love to learn a little more.”

“We are so lucky to have our own garden at our school.  I want to say to my kids when I am older that I was a loyal, helpful Garden Ambassador…I would also like to come home and tell my Mom about how Garden Ambassadors went everyday!”

What do you think you could learn from serving as a Garden Ambassador?

“I will learn how to talk to people that I’ve just met as if I’ve known them forever!  I will also learn lots and lots of plant names!”

“I think I or anyone could learn how to care for other things that are not yours.  I think we will learn how long and hard people work on our garden just for us to have a garden at our school. We could learn all of the plants and know that you are spending time on something that is worth it!  I am so happy that I might be a Garden Ambassador!”

Me too.  :)

 

 

Mary Poppins and gardening

In ev’ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

From Spoonful of Sugar in Mary Poppins

Yet again, Mary is spot on, and I’ve applied her insights this week in the garden with children.

Thanks to Julian Pathway’s tireless persistence in applying for an after-school program grant, our elementary school now has a full-fledged set of programs before and after school for children.  I work with the program on Wednesday, teaching two garden electives and one other (this cycle it’s Greek and Latin roots, which being the word nerd, I love.)

When students arrive at after-school program, they have already had a day of school, so we’ve designed these garden classes to be different from the formal lessons I teach during the school day.  After-school gardening is longer (45 minutes) and with less children (10-12), so we can really get work done.  But how to do that and make it engaging?

Last week I realized we needed to clear out a lot of rotting apples around the trees.  A good cultural practice, removing rotting fruit keeps the area free from possible infestation of other critters.  As such, I had the kids gather ten apples, and then we had a carnival-style “rotten apple compost olympics” with the kids standing behind a line and trying to toss the fruit into compost bins marked with different points.  We kept scores, played a second round, and had to go to a championship tiebreaker.  (Shamelessly, I won by one point.)  Voila!—hundreds of apples composted.  (And they left with big smiles on their faces.)

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This week I wanted to re-mulch our baby apple and pear trees with some donated wood chips, which were a little distance from the trees.  First we had a short chat about social insects and how small creatures working in cooperation can do huge things, like build massive termite mounds… or mulch 8 trees in 20 minutes.  Then we then set up a “mulch brigade” and got the assembly line going.  The kids worked incredibly hard, and we were all amazed at what we accomplished in a short time.  Then we went and tossed a few more apples, and they asked if we could go both “games” again next week.

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Thanks Mary!  Practically perfect advice.

 

 

Live Well San Diego

Welcome to a new school year!  After a too-short summer, we are back at school and in the garden.  To kick off the new school year, please enjoy this article just published by our district’s partner Live Well San Diego about our school programs and Julian Pathways.

I look forward to another year in the garden with you!

 

 

 

Start with the ending

In addition to being one of my favorite David Wilcox songs, this is also how I feel about any big project.  Mission statements are important because they serve as a roadmap to where you want to go.  Our school garden has had one for a long time, and I return to it all the time, but just yesterday we finished a project to have it printed on a sign and hung in the garden for all to see.

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And just in time for this Saturday’s 2nd Annual Julian Garden Tour!  If you’re in Southern California, consider coming up for the day.  Seven gardens are on display, including the school garden, from 10-4.  Tickets, which are the maps to and the descriptions of the gardens, are $20 and can be bought at Town Hall on Main Street or Julian Elementary on the day of the event.  All proceeds benefit the district’s Farm to School efforts.

Thank you to Leslie and Brian at Wet Duck Design for creating and installing our sign!

 

 

Strawberry lesson, sweet and juicy

Our “harvest of the month” is strawberries, and I tried out a new idea this year that worked well.  Fifth grade students were split in groups that switched halfway through the lesson.  One group worked on potting strawberry runners; the other transferred 30 strawberry facts on to paper cutouts, which I later laminated and attached to skewers. We also feasted on local strawberries, since ours aren’t quite ready.

Later the kindergarten students hid the strawberries as part of their lesson (which included finger plays, watering, observing strawberry plants and of course eating!)

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Still later, second grade students went on a strawberry scavenger hunt to fill in the missing blanks on this “quiz” pasted into their journals.

1. It takes about_____days for a flower to turn into a fruit.

2. Strawberries are delicate and must be picked__________.

3. The Spanish word for strawberries is _________.

4. Strawberries are in the__________ family.

5. There are about ______species of strawberry plants.

6. Strawberries produce “runners” or __________ that produce new “daughter” plants.

7. Strawberries like ____________days and ____________ nights.

8. Strawberries are usually the first fruit to ripen in the________.

9. On average, there are ____________ tiny seeds on every strawberry.

10. Strawberries are the only fruit that wears seeds on the ____________.

11. Strawberries have lots of vitamin _________.

 12. Strawberries are perennials. This means they live more than ________________.

Afterward, I “planted” all of the signs in one of the strawberry beds for an ongoing educational display.  I think it’s a sweet touch!

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Re-teaching is good learning

My son is taking a drawing class with two other students at the newly opened Studio Samadhi in Wynola—a wonderful new “center for the arts” in our community.  IMG_2833 One day last month the kids drew little cartoon birds, and it was a hit.  One of the students, who happens to be a Garden Ambassador, said, “We should do this again in the garden!”  I am always looking for realistic student-generated garden ideas for them to run with, so I asked each student to invite a friend to lunch so that they could re-teach the lesson.  It was a cold and windy day, so we ate and drew in Pathways.  The kids were excellent teachers. IMG_2654 IMG_2653 IMG_2647 All of the drawings were then pinned on our garden bulletin board for all to enjoy! IMG_2830 IMG_2831