How Does Your Garden Grow?

As I was leaving our school campus today, I realized that as unpacking and getting a new classroom ready for the students to arrive, I got a little tunnel-visioned and forgot about all the wonderful new things around our new school building, including our school garden. Here is what it looks like now:

Epiphany's School Garden

It reminded me of the book I had been blogging about: How to Grow A School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers. The book is a complete guide and the authors reveal that there are many tricks to the trade. Many that you will learn through discovery. Here are some of their programatic tips:

  1. Develop a garden class schedule.
  2. Invest in a lesson plan book (I’m sure there’s something equivalent on the internet).
  3. Train ALL students in basic garden tasks (true with all procedures).
  4. Record student comments.
  5. Create competitions out of maintenance tasks.
  6. Create a cooking and outdoor kitchen tool kit (our new school has a cool new kitchen where kids can observe – frankly I think it’d be better if kids learned to cook too, but I get that there are some very stringent safety rules).
  7. Place tables and seats throughout the garden (as you can see from the garden above, there is a picnic table, lots of steps, and it’s made with stone where kids can sit).
  8. Model creative reuse of materials – that’s my goal for my welcome back bulletin board – we shall see.

Class Management Tips

  1. Model a positive approach to learning – have a growth mindset
  2. Be prepared (that goes with everything too – but be flexible to change those plans on the fly – anything can and does happen often).
  3. Divide the class into smaller groups.
  4. Appoint student leaders in each class.
  5. Attach lanyards to lenses and magnifying glasses.

Maintenance Tips

  1. Water with rainmakers – I don’t know if you can see it in the picture, but there is a large metal cistern that collects rain water in our school’s garden. By the way, rain makers are like large yogurt tubs with holes poked in them for water to flow out.
  2. Be courteous to custodial staff.
  3. Plan for summer maintenance. Who’s going to do this?
  4. Inventory the parent community for skills and support.
  5. Schedule workdays in advance and feed volunteers well. I swear, I did not make the last one up. It’s in the book.
  6. Look for used tools and equipment.

Garden Support Programs

  1. Present at Kindergarten night.
  2. Present at Back-to-School night.
  3. Ask for specific donations – create a wish list.
  4. Throw a year-end garden party and invite volunteers.

It’s a simple list taken from ch. 7 of the book, but it is one that will definitely serve us well in the long run. My posts have been less frequent lately, but putting a new classroom together can be exhausting and a lot of fun. Below is a picture of my coat hook. The little penguin back pack is my first aid kit, the three sign posts are taken right from our school’s values statement leaving two hooks near the bottom for a coat or hoodie.

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