Observing a butterfly or bees pollinating plants, smelling a sprig of rosemary from the herb bed and many other direct experiences are essential to students developing sense of the world around them.
By learning through action and stimulation of all the senses, the school garden enhances subjects covered in the traditional classroom.
Students that visited the school garden were able to observe pollinators hard at work. They also learned that corn is pollinated by the wind. The students observed the huge feathery like tassel that contained grains of pollen that the wind blew onto the ear of the corn, starting the pollination process.
We use organic methods to protect students from products that might harm their health and also model sustainable agricultural and gardening practices. We strive to keep our insect pest population in balance in the school garden. When insect pests seem to be gaining the upper hand, we use it as an opportunity to teach the concept of ecological balance and strategize with students on how to problem solve.
Measuring the length of the garden beds, and discovering the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables they are harvesting.
Concepts and Standards covered in the traditional classroom come alive in the school garden. Students above are counting and measuring.
To build good plant communities, we teach companion planting. Certain plants grown close together become helpmates. A great example is the Native American “Three Sisters Planting” involves growing corn, beans & squash-often pumpkin-in the same area.
Iroquois legend has it that corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. As corn stalks grow, beans naturally find support by climbing up the stalk. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, supporting the large nutritional needs of corn. Rapidly growing squash shades out weeds with its large leaves. They are good plant companions that work in support of each other.
Students celebrated the Three Sisters with interplanting corn, beans, and squash and making corn husk dolls from the dried leaves or “husk” of the corn cob, a favorite of the Native Americans.
Observing: Leaves & Flowers
Connections between the school garden and the science curriculum are very diverse. The School Garden is a living laboratory offering real world opportunities for observation and experiments.
The School Garden provides hands-on lessons relating to plant growth and life cycles, as well as, a space to investigate environmental studies.
3rd grade students are observing and documenting plants different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. Roots, leaves and flowers were parts of the plant observed.
“My Edible Garden Activity”
Students visited the school garden and learned about the 6 parts of a plant. They used their imagination to create their own edible garden, using the crops they just harvested.
By growing healthy food in the school garden we can ensure that the individuals that eat from it are healthy too. We teach students that healthy plants take many different vitamins and minerals from the soil and use them to build leaves, stems, and fruit. When we eat a wide variety of plants we are eating all the same vitamins, minerals, and nutrients too.
Eating is an agricultural activity in a food service garden. Work that goes into producing food is not visible to us in the grocery store and prevents us from connecting to what we eat a large way. What fuels our bodies, how much food do we eat? Where does food come from? How much energy is needed to feed a family? How does the land provide? What is the real cost of growing a meal?
School gardens show what a food system looks like, from planting to harvest. They teach important lessons about nutrition, how we nourish ourselves.
“Art in the Garden”
Our students have taken their inspiration from the outdoors making ceramic stepping stones using leaves to be incorporated as part of the garden’s hardscape.