You Can’t Hurry a Garden

…or children for that matter.

Keeping with Yong Zhao’s children are like popcorn, it was clear to me last week that some children weren’t ready to pop. We took a ruler out to our garden plot and decided to measure the rye grass and got a range from about 8 to 14 cm. Why cm instead of inches, it’s scientific, global, and in the common standards. What I tried to do was have them make the height of one box equal 2 cm. While half my class was ready to make that leap, the other half were still a little confused.

It was a good lesson in trying to remember where the kids are and not jumping to where you want them to be. I know growing a garden alone isn’t going to raise test scores, but it has the potential to definitely teach the children all sorts of great values about nutrition, agriculture, sense of community, the science of soil, nutrients, and plants, as well as data collection, measurement, and a whole host of other kinds of learning. Some of these activities may actually be useful in a test.

This week we visited our garden plot again, after reading Demi’s The Empty Pot about how honesty can be a courageous act. As a follow up to that reading we asked the children to remember what our master gardner said about each cover crop and what ‘trait’ each one had. The vetch was shy and would be the last out. The rye grass was tall and bold. The clover was friendly and loved to spread around. The students added to these traits, made one or more of these a main character and wrote a story.

What Vetch might look like when it's all grown up.

This time with careful guidance, the garden activity was meaningful to all and they came up with the cutest stories. It was a great way to teach about setting, character and plot through our garden.