Tree school gardening requires learning outdoors

Teaching at Grie Tree School at the age of 32, Merrilee Kane continues to enjoy the art of raising young children in many ways, including outdoor play, stories and songs, creative games and constructive snacks.

When the school was closed for four months last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, one of the first things Kenny reopened was learning that she had entered the school garden with a 2 to 5 year old student.

“Gardening is my regular activity during this difficult time,” says Kenny. That is what makes me want to play in the ground, dig in the garden, and spend time in the mud.

It looked the same to a young friend.

When we reopened in July, he poured out the first day. But we stayed outside, and the kids were very nice about it, ”she said.

Kane and colleagues noticed that the children were happy to be together if they led calmly and happily.

“We all wore masks in the building, and the kids were nice to him. Instead of focusing on the downside, they talked about keeping each other safe. ”

It worked.

“Nobody has been sick all year,” says Kane. “With so many masks and hand sanitizers in place, we didn’t have colds, coughs or sneezes and stomach bugs. zero.”

Tree school members benefit from renting tents if they eat outdoors through November.

“Each child was given a towel hoop with a towel and they made little nests for themselves,” says Khan. “They understand the importance of playing and eating physically among people. I’m really proud of them. ”

Although there have been international reports of drowsiness in children of all ages, Ken and his colleagues have not seen such droplets among their students.

The children had to talk to our teachers and to each other about the virus. But they are creative. They built the virus models using Play-Doh and sticks. The topic of the virus has been the subject of much discussion, including the one-day prospect of COVID, allowing grandparents to see and celebrate birthdays again.

Extra time outdoors is well aligned with the Giving Tree School mission, and the time in the school garden was a joy.

“Pepper is more juicy than tomato,” says 4-year-old Simon. I feel as good as pepper. I love chili so much … as long as my hands go. ”

“I love carrots,” said classmate Colton. Tomatoes are almost ready. I found a medium size. ”

Zelda, 5, came in. “Beans are so delicious!”

“I love flowers because they are beautiful and there are so many colors,” added 5-year-old Olive.

Surprisingly, some children who avoid certain foods are more likely to eat spicy foods.

4-year-old Ethan Radish found that he liked “the big red.”

“I love nasturtiums, oranges and red,” says 5-year-old Nina. I like spices. ”

But 5-year-old Ossi broke up. “Nasturtiums are so spicy!”

Ezra, 4, mentioned that he had two gardens, one at home and one at school.

Allergies Among Pets After a change in policy regarding pets, the Gift Tree School Garden began 10 years ago.

“As a community, we used to take care of guinea pigs, but after we stopped caring for the animals, we started gardening to continue caring for the living creatures,” said Kane.

He helped school parents build four high beds and engage in gardening.

“It’s a real community effort,” Kane said. “It’s really magical.”

She found it a great way to introduce children to eating vegetables and trying new things.

“I am sure they would not have touched me if they had not been involved in growing food,” she explains.

Gardening activities have implanted tree school students patiently and wonderfully. The children also showed the ability to share. When we picked carrots, they made sure everyone had a taste.

One project involves planting pumpkin seeds, caring for plants, collecting seeds, and saving them for another season.

“We washed the seeds, frozen them to the point of planting, and brought the next generation of pumpkins to harvest,” says Kane.

Another lesson in life was: “Things do not always go as planned.” We tape to get the beans out, but instead we find pumpkin plants growing.

In addition to planting, caring for, harvesting, and tasting, tree school students were involved in fertilizer – literally.

“They love our fertilizer,” says Khan. “It helps to decompose our kitchen debris more quickly, and snacking three weeks ago to bring happiness has nothing to do with banana peel.”

Preparing the soil with cow dung and fertilizer was a popular activity, since children were famous for their fun. “We talked about how we can grow big carrots, and being patient and not picking up early will make us big carrots,” said Khan.

“We had to assume that everyone was a carrier of COVID,” says Ken. The garden certainly helped him. ”

Kane says: “When you sleep with small children, many crops grow together with weeds. So we planted a lot and a lot. ”The children regularly inspect the garden beds, water them when needed, and make regular maintenance“ often while playing nearby. ”

Betty Evans, the founder of the Tree School on the school’s road, was delighted with the gardening project.

“When they spend time in our outdoor classroom, children are involved in decisions about how to support life, including plants that we already have, as well as plants that we plant and sow.”

Lessons abounded outside, Evans continued.

Why should we keep earthworms in the garden? What happens if we pick up the plant quickly? When they arrived each morning, the children ran to the garden to see what they were eating. Are the carrots enough? Are beans still there? Cherry tomatoes? The level of happiness about these small changes reflects their involvement, awareness, and power over living things.

Evans noted that the children’s ownership and the garden’s long-term focus are needed when it comes to self-expression.

“They are the future stewards of our planet, the next decision makers of science and climate change. They are learning from experience and results by dipping their hands into the dirt. Being active and alert is a very effective way to support complex, thought-provoking learning.

Tree school teachers meditate on what extends children’s thinking in the outside world.

“We consider what to plant and what to eat, as well as related materials, such as books and stories,” says Evans. Teachers pay close attention to what motivates and attracts children.

Each spring, the Giving Tree School community wakes up and plays the colorful costumes and plays the “root children” game.

“It’s exciting to see the subtle beginnings of how the earth moves every year,” says Evans. “Understanding and respecting life cycles is built on small steps, not actual experiences. That’s where digging and planting comes in. After the seeds are soaked in the ground, the children sing them quietly.

“We have been out of the country for 45 years,” says Evans. In addition to vegetables, there is joy in finding bugs hidden in grass and small beads. The children regularly visit the apple trees to visit and pick up cows and goats.

As they walk, the children find monarch butterflies in milk and eagerly learn to identify local plants. “It is very exciting to identify the cabbage that sprouts in the ground,” says Evans. “Natural gardens are always changing, constantly changing. Current observations provide an in-depth, highly effective education for all.

Evans also say that “normal playgrounds,” covered with sidewalks, cement, and broken tires, are safe, so “children do not get bed bugs, earthworms, or grass and garbage.”

The scents, flavors and textures of plants and vegetables help children develop healthy food choices, says Evans.

At 9:00 am, it is amazing to see children growing up in the garden picking cabbage, carrots, beans, nasturtiums, and tomatoes.

Evelyn McDogal is a writer and artist, musician, educator and mother of “Goat Hope.” She receives readers’ feedback and suggestions for columns: eveline@amandlachorus.org.

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