During garden lessons, I try to stay open to unscripted moments. If an unusual insect shows up, if pods have just erupted in seeds, if a child sees something beautiful that has escaped my notice, I want to be ready to stop everything for the teachable moment. It happens a lot in the garden.
At the beginning of the year, I hung a tree face on one of the junipers and led the students by it on the way out of the garden, waiting for squeals and pointed fingers. After seeing Mr. Tree, they speculated that Mrs. Tree might be the next one to show up. Show up she did.
When we discovered her a couple weeks later, one of the girls told me she needed a “neckwus.” I agreed and sure enough, during our next class, we noticed that Mrs. Tree was all blinged out.
We got closer. And as we looked at her, I noticed there was a single, silvery drip of tree sap right under her eye. Look!
Suddenly we had the most perfect creative writing/thinking prompt as I asked students, “Why do you think Mrs. Tree is crying?”
And I couldn’t have made up the next three comments:
Student #1: She’s crying because she’s so happy to live in the school garden.
Student #2: She’s crying because Mr. Tree gave her a necklace!
And then Student #3:
She’s crying because her necklace is too tight!