Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I braved those "awful allergies that made me sneeze" and ventured off with the first and second graders to the Learning Garden at Randall's Island Park.

Our outdoor adventure took an unexpected twist due to the capricious humor of Mother Nature but our tenacious guides remained undaunted by the storm.

Instead of frolicking in the rain-soaked outdoor garden, our hosts created an intimate bucolic experience in one of the stadiums. We divided our students into small groups and assigned them to one of the four stations.
  1. Painting signs labeling the various fruits and vegetables in the garden.  
  2. Planting Forget Me Nots in small pots, which we got to bring home! 
  3. Learning about the parts of a plant (root, stem, seed, flower, leaf) and then tasting some delicious examples of each.  
  4. Visiting with the baby chicks.  This was perhaps the biggest thrill for the children (although I'm not sure the chicks felt the same way).  
They spent about 20 minutes at each station before rotating to the next. It was a pleasure to watch them engaging in each activity, asking questions, working together and having fun.

The Learning Garden provides an incredible opportunity for city kids to engage in a hands-on sensory exploration of garden activities such as planting, watering, weeding, mulching, composting, recycling and harvesting.  

We have a small school garden with a greenhouse--our class is growing basil, rosemary, lavender and marigolds--so these skills are put to the test on a daily basis.  Our goal is to provide food for our cafeteria so there are healthy food choices but at the moment the scope is limited.  Perhaps experiences like the one we had at the Learning Garden will motivate and inspire our students to grow the school garden into a larger program.  

A huge Thank You to the urban farmers who shared their expertise with us!  


Steve Reed said...

Sounds like fun! (But those poor chicks!)

Gary said...


Arielle Bair (Becker) said...

You guys do the coolest stuff!

Pauline said...

Our local Botanical Garden has programs like this for school students. We have a Learning Garden at school that is in the neophyte stage - the program needs a strong leader and equally strong followers. Gardens have worked in neighboring schools but ours seems to be floundering for lack of teacher/community time and interest.

My second graders watch chicks hatch from a classroom incubator and we study them, charting days to hatching, height, weight, etc. The kids name and hold their chicks and when the chicks are released at the farm behind me, they follow me everywhere, having imprinted on humans!

Gary said...

Arielle - NYC is a great place to go to school. We might as well take advantage of it.

Pauline - Our school garden seems to share the same issues as yours. I love the idea of having live chicks in the school. What happens to them on the weekends and vacations/holidays? I had a classroom rabbit for the first 5 or 6 years I taught and that was always an issue.

Pauline said...

Gary - the chicks are in a glass aquarium with self feeders and waterers so they spend the weekends under a heat lamp there. The janitors check on them daily. The newspapers lining the box need a moment-we-enter-the-room change on Mondays! When they are a week old, the chicks return to the farm where we get our eggs.

Ms.M said...

We have a green space and garden at our school. Actually we suspended it last year cause we were offsite for renovations and our green space was being dug up. However, I know the kids love it and can't wait to get back. It is a fabulous experience and one every student should get. :)



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