As these fourth graders got outside to ready their garden plot for spring planting, they managed to pull the longest root they have ever seen!
Students at The Learning Center Charter School maintain a vegetable garden on campus which has them working in the dirt all school year long. Kindergarten through eighth grade students at the school do everything in the garden from weeding, planting, watering and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Gardening and agriculture have always been important at the school. Director, Mary Jo Dyre, believes that 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,” says Dyre.
In September, students planted turnip seeds as part of their winter garden. In December, students excitedly harvested the turnips and learned that the root and greens are edible. All of these young gardeners were given a hearty serving to take home, while others eagerly ate their turnip raw.
Emily Willey, elementary science and outdoor learning coordinator at the charter school, makes gardening a regular part of the daily routine for students at the school. “Playing an active role in food production teaches young people everything from agriculture to nutrition. These kids love seeing the fruits of their labor and are willing to eat unfamiliar vegetables as a result.”
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.
These fairy house may seem like all play . . . but much is being learned in the process!
First graders recently learned that they would be building fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center as part of their science studies. After locating forest resources and ideal locations they created the beginnings of unique homes in the local trees.
Students will be working on this project for several weeks as they troubleshoot building techniques, learn how to use basic tools for secure construction, explore design principles – including incorporation of the golden ratio in their design, and try out some sustainable building techniques such as building out of clay or cob.
First graders have been learning about trees. Part of their studies has included leaf rubbings as a means to learn about tree identification. The fact that these students got to be in The Outdoor Learning Center and our own forest setting made the lesson even more meaningful!
Taking note of the unique colors each species turn in the fall was fun. Sassafras was a favorite because the tree has three different leaf types.
You might remember that these industrious students spent time in The Outdoor Learning Center last year building fairy houses. Science teacher, Ms. Emily, gets all of her students outside as much as possible because the forest is an extension of her classroom.
As students built these fairy house last year, they learned about the native flora and fauna found on our campus. They also learned about construction, design and trial and error!
They’ve recently been checking on their fairy houses and deciding on repair, reconstruction or expansion ideas.
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.
These first graders took time to plant radishes. However, they weren’t just planting radishes. They were also learning about energy that plants need to grow. They also deepened their understanding of how plants get nutrients from the soil to grow, flower and produce food.
While they were in the garden, they snipped dozens of marigold blossoms in order to make garlands to decorate their classroom in celebration of fall harvest season!
First grade scientists recently ventured outside with Ms. Katie, Ms. Becky, and Ms. Emily as they began learning out in the field in The Outdoor Learning Center (TOLC.) They observed and recorded living and nonliving parts of our environment. They discussed that all living things grow, eat, react, reproduce, and move. Students were fascinated to learn the different ways plants move! They also noted several ways that plant and animals show signs of life by reacting to stimuli.
In May, third grade students visited the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. They learned about tree identification. When they returned to school, they teamed up with Ms. Emily and began identifying trees in The Outdoor Learning Center. Students identified many varieties including Peach, Sassafras, Sycamore, Oak and Poplar trees.
Teachers use community resources like the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center to show students real life applications of things they learn in the classroom. Of course a student can learn about a tree from a book, but it’s not until they are in the woods learning about leaves, bark, flowers and seeds that they make the deep connections that lead to life long learning. Community partnerships are an integral piece of your child’s education at The Learning Center!