I started a new tradition this year. When I visit my K-2 classrooms, I bring something “freshly picked.” This week it was rosemary.
Now that my garden ambassadors are chosen, they make the bouquets for me at recess and return the vases to the garden room for me to pick up on the way to class.
The idea is that the vase stays in the class until the arrangement withers, and then the ambassadors collect them after a week. It’s a small touch that “brings the outside in,” fills the room with a nice fragrance and gives students a chance to make observations and learn plant names. Beauty is a language of care!
Last Thursday was Science Day at our school during which students went from “station” to “station” spread across campus for science-based lessons. For example, San Diego Country Office of Education brought their traveling Splash Lab (microscopes and chemistry experiments) and Green Machine (soils, integrated pest management, water cycle) programs.
Almost every student passed through the garden for a 30-minute class. In the morning, we had the younger classes combined by grade so I divided the children into groups with an adult (teacher, parent, and/or aid) and explained that they would go to 5 different stations for 5 minutes each. Each station was set up with a clipboard of simple instructions and the necessary equipment. I went from group to group to answer questions, point things out and re-set materials.
Station One: Planting Peas
Station Two: Watering peas
Other classes had already planted peas in other beds. At this station kids observed their growth and watered.
Station Three: Storytime
Station Four: Smelling herbs
Station Five: Looking for habitat elements
Mrs. White demonstrating how our beautiful fountain turns on when she holds the panel to the sun. A wonderful day for hands-on learning!
ESK is our Early Start Kindergarten class, and their bed features herbs and the alphabet.
Speaking of spelling… I follow the school garden blog for Alice Fung Yu Elementary in San Fransisco. They put me on to an incredible resource, full of lesson plans: http://www.educationoutside.org/lesson-pathway. I’ve barely ventured into the site, but one of the first things I found was a worksheet for an alphabet scavenger hunt. (“Feel, smell, watch or listen to something from each letter of the alphabet. Write down or draw what your discoveries.”) I tried it yesterday, and it was a hit! Lots of sounding out of words as kids ran around, finding something in the garden for every letter!