Why does our school put an emphasis on gardening?

Back in May, third graders got outside to continue working on their fairy houses, condominiums, resorts, and playgrounds. Students choose to work in groups or alone to refine their architecture. These are fluid and change over time as their ideas evolve. In the process students discover unique ecology in the woods like weird charcoal growths on dead sticks, salamanders buried under the dirt, tree nuts sprouting into seedlings, winged queen ants, etc.

Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty.  Why?  Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.

Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.

Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.

The beautification of our campus is a happy result of hands on learning!

Spring 2018 Annual Plant Sale Success

Each Spring, TLC holds it’s annual plant sale. All plants are supplied by local grower Sunshine Mountain Farms. Perennials, annuals, hanging baskets and shrubs are all sold with proceeds used to benefit class trips funds and playground improvements. Thanks for making this year’s sale a success!

Middle School Students Plant Pollinator Garden on Campus

In early May, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students spent two days planting pollinator gardens in their garden plots. A pollinator garden is a garden that is planted predominately with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a wide range of pollinating insects.

The flowers include sunflowers, zinnia, dahlias, marigolds, bachelor buttons, cosmos, and four o’clocks. The students weeded, raked, planted, labeled, and watered their new plants.  They look forward to seeing the seeds sprout and grow all summer long.

Checking in on 1st Grade Fairy Houses

First graders have been working on their fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center busily since school started this year.  This ongoing project affords rich educational opportunities for these young students.

Imaginative play, self-directed skill building, sharing spaces and cooperation, engineering and construction, are just some examples. Plus, Ms. Emily is always sure to include science as part of the exploration.

This spring these students have been learning about Earth materials. They have used the opportunity to go to the woods check on and repair their fairy houses.  Students are finding granite to use as countertops and floors. They have also found interesting organisms like gobs of slime growing on sticks.

3rd Grade Science — Life Cycle of Plants

Recently, third grade students learned about the life cycles and needs of plants. While working in the garden, students excitedly learned about a larval insect they discovered while digging.

Gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. Plus, it’s really fun!

 

4th Graders Hunt for Four Leaf Clovers

Recently, students in 4th grade hunted for four leaf clovers as they learned about variation and adaptations in science. The students love learning science in The Outdoor Learning Center (TOLC) where they explore natural processes in the woods and learn agriculture in the gardens.

All About Bugs in 2nd Grade

Second grade teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, Stephanie Hopper, wrapped up a cross curricular unit on insects with her class earlier this month. Found online, Eddie the Entomologist sent the class friendly letters each day that included clues. Using the clues, the students then guessed what creature was the bug of the day.

Hopper was able to bridge the study of insects across all subjects in her class. In science, students learned about insect life cycles. Numerous books and interactive online reading texts were used by students for research and reading comprehension.  Plus, the daily letters from Eddie allowed the class to review and reinforce what they had previously learned about the composition of friendly letters.

In math, students used measurement standards to compare different types of insects as well as jumping distances.  Additionally, students put their STEM skills to use when tasked with designing and building their own insects.

Plus, these industrious second grade students wrote acrostic poems using descriptive words to describe insects, wrote a sequence paper on the life cycle of an insect, made terrariums with appropriate habitats for insects to live and did a drawing activity where they were guided, step-by-step to draw, label and color a realistic bumble bee and butterfly.

At the end of the all encompassing insect unit, students earned an “Entomologist Expert” badge from Eddie.

Hopper said, “These students could hardly wait each day to read the letter from Eddie and use the clues to figure out the bug of the day. Using their excitement about bugs across all of our studies engaged them thoroughly in each subject.”

Earth Day River Walks

In celebration of Earth Day back in April, Tony Ward of Hiawasee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) guided the studets on a walk of Murphy’s Riverwalk and explained the difference in native and non-native species. Students also explored why it is important for plants to grow on riverbanks to prevent erosion as the kids learned that dirt is the number one polluter in our rivers. Students learned about many local trees and shrubs and how they all had different methods of spreading their seeds.

Our School Awarded $1,000 Grant From NC Beautiful

The Learning Center Charter School was awarded a $1,000 grant from NC Beautiful on February 13, 2018.

NC Beautiful has been part of the state’s environmental preservation community for 40 years, supporting awareness, education and beautification efforts across the state. The organization concentrates on hands-on and merit-based programs designed to empower North Carolina citizens to preserve the natural beauty of the state.

Since 2003, the charter school has provided outdoor education for all of its students.  The grant money will be used to enhance four outdoor learning spaces: 1) the front terraced garden; 2) a side garden plot; 3) the aquaponics garden; and 4) a new compost area. In addition to gardening tools such as clippers, shovels and gloves, additional mulch and soil will be added to the listed planting areas.

School Director, Mary Jo Dyre, said, “In this age where “screen time” heavily outweighs “green time,” we carefully craft a school day that allows our students to be outside getting their hands in the dirt as often as possible.”

Outdoor Learning Coordinator at the charter school, Emily Willey, added, “I am so thankful for the NC Beautiful Grant to provide us the funds to continue to maintain the garden beds and the tools to facilitate our spectacular outdoor program. These green spaces provide a much needed opportunity for our students to interact in a real way with the ecosystem around them while also gaining important skills and insights across their academic curriculum.”

Steve Vacendak, Executive Director of NC Beautiful, seen at far left, presented a $1,000 check to a portion of The Learning Center Charter School’s student body on February 13, 2018.