One of our Teacher Residents (Anna) has organized a vegetable garden for the preschool and Pre-K classrooms - what a fantastic idea!
It never ceases to amaze me how much fun and learning we can do outdoors.
Every day of the week, during centers, a small group of children heads outside to work in the garden.
This past week, our first week, has been all about digging up and working the soil. We are using real tools - and the children are being so careful and responsible.
Other excitement from week one:
- discovering roots
- distinguishing between clumps of dirt and rocks
- learning how to shovel
- banging on a tree stump
- finding bugs
- using a shovel to find bugs
- making bug homes
We have found lots of grubs, pill bugs, spiders...and not enough worms. I love how no one flinches at any of these finds. Young children are all about discovery - holding the grubs in their hands, exploring its legs and antennae. They had many questions about the grubs -
What is this shiny gold thing with a tail?
Why is this in the garden?
Is it good or bad?
What is it doing?
Why is it curling up?
Here, I don't know the answers...but I'm excited to help them in finding answers, to discover more.
What to do with all the non-living things we find in the soil? Well, start a windowsill display, of course! We love exhibits. Here, we have been treasuring rocks, parts of bricks, small plastic toys, all of our finds.
Each day, the time has just flown by...no one has asked to leave the garden, no one has been "bored." I hear the children creating respectful rules for working alongside one another:
You are getting dirt on me. You are moving the shovel too fast.
Look, dirt on the sidewalk! Dirt stays in the garden.
Can you throw dirt? No!
Another unplanned, unexpected, but treasured tangent of this gardening has been the mixed-age group experience. Not only are three, four, and five year olds working together, but several elementary students have joined us. During their playground time, our elementary students have seen the preschoolers working and have asked to help. We have welcomed their assistance (they are so proficient at loosening and turning over the soil!). It is so great for our youngest students to have this fervent interest by the older ones.
As the children work, the conversation just flows...
We are growing flowers at my house.
First we looked at bugs, and then we grew flowers.
My daddy is doing that. He jumps on the shovel, too, making big clumps of dirt.
My mommy gave me gardening gloves. I got big gloves.
We have a new shovel.
We are growing carrots and peas.
In my garden, we saw a big insect. It was this big, as big as a grasshopper.
This week, we are planting the vegetables.
However, because this open-ended exploration has been so fantastic, we have decided to reserve one small area, deep in the shade, just for digging.
Here's to gardening!