One thing I’ve learned about garden education is that there are many tasks that just do not lend themselves to large classes of students. There simply isn’t enough space for 25 or more kids to stand around a raised bed, or have his/her own tool, or put a transplant each in the ground. As such, I’ve stumbled upon the idea of having a large group activity that I explain and start with the entire class, often at the table in the garden (or on windy days, in the main classroom with the classroom teacher or garden volunteer supervising) and then take smaller groups to the garden to do an activity.
I’ve also learned that ladybugs are not bugs, but beetles.
Last week I combined these two bits of knowledge with the following activity with the younger elementary set.
I began with a mini-lesson on the difference between true bugs and beetles, followed by all of the astonishing facts and figures about the volume and diversity of beetles on earth. Then I passed out a blank sheet and a template of cartoons, and the kids copied this sentence and had fun embellishing their papers with either their own designs or copies of the cartoons.
I took smaller groups of six out to the garden for five minutes at a time to paint little lady beetles on our circle of tree stumps. (I love whimsy in children’s gardens.)
It was a hit! Over the next month I will be switching out kids’ work on our garden bulletin board. They get so excited to see their drawings on display!