Grow. Play. Learn.

Garden-Based Learning Projects at North Elementary. Morgantown, WV


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Why have school gardens?

to observe…
observe
to investigate…
oka
to explore…
dirt
to question…
noodle bean
to learn teamwork…
kids and compost
to care for the earth…
planting
to work hard…
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to discuss…
cute
to record…
notes
and to DISCOVER so much!!
laura's class

There is no better place to learn than in the garden:)

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Sunflower Mathematics

Last week, while cleaning up some of the garden beds, we stumbled upon a math and science goldmine! The teacher in the picture below is actually holding the math lesson in her hands, beaming with excitement about the countless curriculum-based lessons she can teach with that sunflower head!
sunflower

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9d1mxgZ0ag < Obviously, these math findings here in the garden at North Elementary aren't a new discovery, because here is a link for a video that explains all of the possibilities to teach math with a sunflower head!

The Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio, angles, and spirals are only some of the key mathematical points that one can teach with a sunflower (pinecones too, and many other plants in nature).
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Don’t these beauties look even more beautiful now that you know how many fun math lessons hide within the spirals and florets?!


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Fall is in the Air

The leaves are beginning to change color, there is a chill in the air, and the once bright green that was seen in the garden is now a dull yellow. Although the days are still sunny and warm, you can tell that Fall is right around the corner. Most people tend to associate Fall with dying plants and leaves falling, but I’ll tell you a secret… It can also be a great time for a lot of plants to come to life! As teachers are getting back into the swing of things with their classes, a few are incorporating the garden into their Autumn lessons.
IMG_1200IMG_1202 Above are a few photos of Mrs. Rummel and Ms. Amig’s class radishes that are coming up. They cleared out the squash beds, prepped the soil for planting, and came up with a plan to plant the radishes. The classes used math when making a garden map for their seeds, and they will continue to take care of their growing radishes. Once they are harvested the classes will investigate with pickling!
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We are also clearing and prepping more beds for Fall planting. Hopefully in the next two weeks we will have spinach, lettuce, kale, and beets in the ground!


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A Useful Link

http://wvschoolgardens.org/

^The above link is a website that was created for educators, and anyone involved with a school garden in the great state of West Virginia! Educators of all kinds are encouraged to add and share curriculum’s on the site. We also encourage teachers to use ideas from the site for their own classrooms, to hopefully expand school garden programs throughout the state! There is news you can use, and a useful toolkit link that has a boatload of resources on kid-friendly recipes, how to get a program up and running in your school, and other great tips. Check it out!


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Carrots and Compost

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A day of plucking carrots from the garden beds and a much needed compost turn!

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Carrots are a pretty great choice for school gardens, because they are essentially the easiest (and most fun) vegetable to harvest!

 

 

 

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We were lucky enough to collect a group of NCCC AmeriCorps based out of Louisiana, to come help out for the day.  For their service term they need a specific number of independent service hours, so a day in the North Garden was a great choice while doing other projects in the Morgantown area.  The team was busy weeding and turning compost.  They finished out their day by helping with the carrot harvest!

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A successful carrot harvest it was !

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Awaiting the Student’s Arrival

The carrots are ready.  The potatoes are pushing themselves up.  The cucumbers are hanging on for dear life!  The tomatoes are turning red by the minute.  The beans are climbing and growing. Basil keeps on comin’, and the students are back at school on Monday.  It’s so tempting to pick it all RIGHT NOW, but it would be a shame to pick it and not let the students see the beauty of the garden in full bloom.  We can only hope that the deer and groundhogs don’t get to it before the students do…

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Have you ever seen a Chinese Noodle Bean?  That is what’s pictured in the above photo, and they are quickly growing in our garden.  These beans get to be almost two feet in length!  The students LOVE them, and they are great for so many lessons.  Who wouldn’t love to do a math lesson with beans that they’ve just picked outside?  Measuring, fractions, dividing- you name it.  The Chinese noodle bean is perfect, and delicious.

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The “Three Sisters” beds are coming up nicely.  The “three sisters” are corns, beans, and squash and these garden beds provide a invaluable history lesson about the Native Americans and how they used to grow crops on their lands. 

September is going to be a busy and exciting month for the kids at school, and hopefully the garden will be utilized every day of the week.  It’s a time when we start planning for winter crops and cover crops.  Hopefully there will be some go-getter teachers who will plan to do outdoor winter growing all year!


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Squash for sale!

Last Saturday we attended the Morgantown Farmers Market, and it sure was a lot of fun!  Some lovely North girls and wonderful mothers came to help out, and because of them it was a real success. We had squash, cucumbers, basil, mint, and big beautiful sunflowers to sell. 

IMG_0543We sold our BIG Blue Guatemalan Squash.  The largest one we had was 17 INCHES LONG!

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I made the mistake of telling the girls a joke, “What is a vegetable you DON’T want to step on?”

“What?”   “SQUUAAAAAAAASSSSHHH!”    They loved it, and decided to entertain themselves by telling the joke to innocent shoppers.  IMG_0546IMG_0542

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Lots of shoppers were admitting that they just have no clue how to prepare such large squash, and they asked questions to the girls about how to cook with them. We told shoppers that they are perfect for pureeing and baking. Just last week in the adult summer cooking class that I am leading, we made squash muffins and they were delicious! 

I love that the community is so open to the idea of students selling their produce at the farmers market, and we love that there is so much support and positive feedback.  Thank you Morgantown Community for letting us share our garden with you!