New Plans for the School Gardens
What’s Up in the Garden This Year? New Plans for the School Gardens
Some changes are in the works for how Touchstone’s gardens will be used and managed this school year. Individual classes will take more ownership for the gardens than they have up to now. During the past week teachers have been taking their students on “garden tours” to investigate what grew and changed over the summer * and to decide which garden areas the class would like to plant and care for during the coming year.
Each class and its teacher will be responsible for its own growing spaces. Parent helpers will work with teachers to design garden activities. These will be suited to the particular garden space of every class and related to the year’s themes and projects whenever possible. The whole class will work together at one time at a weekly garden time, assisted by its teacher and garden helper. Garden work will be followed up in the classroom from week to week with conversation, experiments, drawing, writing and so on. Classes will share what they’ve done in the garden at Community Meetings throughout the school year on a rotating basis.
A school garden is an additional classroom — an outdoor classroom. It makes possible active, outdoor, on-site, ongoing experiences that connect children to the natural world in enjoyable, authentic and meaningful ways. Spending time in the garden helps students to fall in love with the earth, the earth that will need their love and attention both now and when they reach adulthood. In the garden children learn about plants and how to grow food and also have many chances to make connections to life science, math, language and literacy, history, social studies and arts in a real world context. The garden also provides an additional lens for teachers to use in designing curriculum and instruction with an eye to educating students for sustainability.
Touchstone’s mission includes this statement: It is our hope to help nurture life long learners, who see, understand, and assume their responsibilities to shape democratically the world and to protect and sustain actively the earth and universe they are prepared to inhabit. The garden program came into being to support Touchstone’s effort to fulfill this hope. – Marian Hazzard