asu cdc garden
asu cdc garden
November granted us deeper glimpses of the cold months ahead. Despite some snow and icy air, we managed to create space to play and learn in the gardens! Earlier in the month, we planted tulip bulbs for our future fairy garden. In the same day, each child harvested a radish that they were able to take home.
On another occasion in the garden, each child harvested their own special shiitake mushroom! It was a cold day, so the mushrooms were nearly frozen. We brought our harvest inside where Georgia and a volunteer cooked up the mushrooms for the children to try a sample. The children took turns watching the process of how to prepare + cook, and some even volunteered to stir the mushrooms in the pan. Georgia used maple syrup + salt for seasoning because let's be honest, cooked mushrooms aren't very appealing to begin with, especially to a group of preschoolers who would much rather have colorful berries. Nonetheless, every child gave it a try! Most expressed that they did not like the taste, but one expressed that they actually enjoyed the taste. After hearing that mushrooms give you superpowers of strength + well-being, another child finished their plate.
October began again with noticing the seasonal changes unfurling around us.
The children documented what they noticed by gathering + taping various plant materials.
Later in the month, we explored the concept of bulb vegetables by prepping + planting garlic bulbs. Many children expressed distaste at the thought of garlic, but many enjoyed the process of mixing the soil & making "garlic wishes" as they planted their own bulb.
The children seemed to enjoy having free play in the garden, where they could water our broccoli starts + find garden treasures (insects, peppers, herbs, etc.)
September began with a long-term project called Noticing Journals, where each month, the children can meander in the garden as they respond to the question, "What do you notice in the garden today?" Over time, these sheets will be made into their own personal booklets that allow them to see the changes that can occur in a garden throughout time.
After our recording what we noticed in the gardens, the children began to harvest the beans!
On another occasion, the children were able to learn about root vegetables and harvest beets! After harvesting, a beet was cut into pieces for everyone to try. Most did not like the taste, except for Charley who said, "I love beets!"
And finally, the children learned about planting cool season veggies, like broccoli, as well as planting seeds of cover crops!
Here, the children are prepping to plant broccoli starts. We dug holes as big as we could-so big our entire fist could fit inside!
Early in the summer, the children helped to plant sunflower starts in the garden and all throughout the summer, we were able to observe how the sunflowers grew, unfurled into bright flowers, and ultimately went to seed.
Recently, the children came to the garden to talk about seeds and where they come from. We practiced harvesting seeds from sunflowers, as well as finding seeds of other plants, such as peppers, tomatoes, and beans!
On another occasion, we learned all about a life form-not plants, not animals.........but mushrooms! We passed around a mushroom to feel and smell, we learned about mushroom lifecycles through a movement / dance, we went on a "mushroom hunt" to find Shiitake mushrooms, & every child received a bag to collect herbs to take home ingredients for a mushroom soup!
With a big thanks to our funder, Captain Planet, we were able to fill our pollinator garden to the brim with 240 new seedlings this season! If you have been out to our Learning Garden, the pollinator garden makes up all of the space outside the fence. Probably half of the square footage of our garden is dedicated to pollinators, plus some tasty herbs!
In conjunction with this new growth, we held a two-part lesson with the children on pollinators. We told the children about 3 common types - bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds - and then discussed how these creatures carry pollen from plant to plant, and why that process is important for our food crops. After the overview, we broke the children up into 2 groups, and they rotated through 2 different activities on pollinators.
In the first activity, we utilized photovoice to get the children into the garden, and identifying what they thought to be the “best pollinators.” We gave them disposable cameras, and asked the question, “If YOU were a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?” We took a picture of whichever child got to use the camera, and then allowed them to take a photo around the garden in response to our question. We then asked them why they chose to take that photo, and recorded their responses. Afterward, we got the kids into small groups and they helped us to transplant one of our new pollinator seedlings! They loved working with the plants and buzzing around, pretending to be bees!
In the second rotation, each child received a paper plate with a flower drawn on it, attached to a large popsicle stick to make a “paddle.” They were all given time to decorate these flower paddles, and then we rounded them up to play a game. We inflated 2 yellow balloons and colored them like bees, and then the kids circled up and passed the bee balloon around with their paddles. They loved this game! Our main focus was to instill the idea that pollinators jump from flower to flower, and that this process is what makes them so important in the garden. It got a little tricky to coordinate passing around the balloon with such young children, but luckily our adaptable helper, Miss Whitney, improvised and moved the balloon around by hand to make things easier.
The last part of our pollinator lesson happened a week later, after we had developed the photos from our photovoice project. Before class we cut out simple construction paper shapes of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and then allowed the children to choose which pollinator they wanted to be. Then we gave them a cutout of their face, which they pasted on their pollinator on a large piece of construction paper. We then gave them the photo that they took in the garden, which they also pasted on their paper. We reiterated our leading question from before, “If YOU were a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?” Then we asked them to decorate the rest of their paper with their “dream garden.” They loved pretending to be all the different creatures! We also brought some real flowers in from the garden that they could add, especially because some children were absent for the previous lesson. We also had some new children enter the class during this time, so they were not able to have their picture on the pollinator cutout - but they didn’t seem to mind once they realized they could add a real flower to their picture!
Overall, this two-part pollinator lesson was a huge success: even two months later, we still hear children talking about pollinators! While this may not seem like a remarkable measure for most age groups, it is very rewarding to instill such a strong educational memory in a 3-5 year old. They loved the lesson and always relish their time in the garden, so it was a pretty easy plan to execute! I believe it was also helpful to hold the lesson over two weeks, to help reiterate all the major points. The main issue with this form of educational metrics was getting explanations from the children on the photos they took. As you will see below, the answers were not very extensive or reflective of pollinator knowledge, mostly because the kids were distracted by the excitement of taking photos around the garden. At such a young age, they have a tougher time recalling key points until the lesson has been reiterated a few times, and they aren't likely to be as thoughtful with their choices when the activity is so exciting already. Still, we believe that the children absorbed the content of our lessons - even if they had a little trouble articulating it! Thank you Captain Planet for your generosity in growing our pollinator space, or our garden would not be the same! Check out the photos below to see what the kids did, and their ideas about what pollinators should eat!
"If YOU were a bee, butterfly or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?"
"I would eat this because...."
Rowan: "Cause bees like flowers"
Mason: "Red is pretty"
Marissa: "It looks like an eye and that's pretty"
Mary Eccles: "Because it's a big flower"
Evie: "It's the best one for the bumblebees"
Harper C: "I like that flower"
Graison: "It's pretty and pink"
Kinley: "Because it looks pretty"
Lucy S: "Because butterflies like flowers"
Ryle: "A bee would like it"
Charlie: "It has a bunch of flowers"
Harper B: "It's pretty"
We've done a lot these past few weeks, we held our first ever Earth Day event on April 23rd and had a blast! We made little recyclable Earth Day passports for the kids to make sure they got to enjoy all of the activities we had planned for them and it was a lot!
First we greeted them with chicks! Which all of the kids enjoyed holding and I think for many of them it was their first time getting to hold one. We had a craft station where we made recycled crafts using old CDs to make CD reflectors for the garden, toilet paper cardboard roll bird feeders, and egg carton caterpillars :)
We also had a start your own mushroom log station where the kids got to hold and use a drill (with supervision of course). The wonderful Jeremy Rushlow had a wonderful set up where he instructed everyone on how to start and I think a lot of the kids and parents really enjoyed the workshop.
The sustainability team led a stream clean up with the kids which was really hands on and they cleaned up quite a bit. There seemed to be a lot of deflated balls in the stream. Hmm. I think the kids enjoyed getting in the muck and exploring.
And the most exciting of all was we got the compost built! Taylor James, a sustainable development student designed this wonderful compost structure to sustain the garden and her vision came to be in two hours when a group of fraternity members from ASU came by to build the whole thing.
Overall, the Earth Day event was a huge success and we got a lot done and the best part was everything we used was totally recyclable! A special thanks to Dr. Lanae Ball and her community nutrition class at ASU for preparing amazing snacks. We can't wait for next year!
Now on to what we've been teaching the kids about in the garden :)
Harvesting Kale & Kale Chips
This was a great lesson! It was a lovely sunny day and the kale was ready to be harvested. We sorted the kids in to three groups that we rotated, a craft group, a nutrition education group and a harvesting group!
The craft group got to decorate kale chips that we cut out of construction paper in hopes that they'll love kale that much more! The nutrition education group had a lovely lesson planned where they would state a fact about a vegetable that we planted in the garden and they would then have to paste a cut out veggie on to a drawing of a person to show which part of the body the vegetable provides benefits to. They really loved that one! The kale harvesting group got to go out to the garden and harvest the many bunches of kale and then prepare kale chips that they got to enjoy at lunch! Yum yum.
The garden was starting to get a little full of weeds so we decided to organize a lesson about all the different weeds we could find in the garden. We had two big groups, one was the craft group where the kids pulled up a bunch of weeds and then made a work of art as a class. They each got to take some paint and stamp the paper, which made a funky new decoration for the garden. The second group was led by our garden team which taught the kids all about the weeds growing all around the garden (especially ground ivy). They learned about the weed, then got to pull it and wow did they pull a lot of weeds.
Well Mother's Day was coming up and the weather was warming up so we'd decided to teach the kids about planting flowers! We read them a book about how flowers grow from little seeds and then they got to go out and learn how to plant the flowers. We hope to see some sprouts soon :)
Well we sure are getting things going and growing. We can't wait for the warm summer to bring lots of colors to our garden and we are so very excited for more lessons.
For more frequent updates on the garden be sure to follow our Facebook page! (link below)
The past three weeks have been very exciting, the wonderful team has gotten to know the children through our weekly Wednesday visits.
We kicked things off with a garden party night where we got to meet the children and their parents, it was great to see them try a bunch of new vegetables with our lovely garden cracker activity led by Nadine and Kristen. They also got to learn about the colors of the rainbow in relation to colors of vegetables with Carla's delightful activity. We couldn't wait to see them again and begin teaching them about the garden.
Week one in the garden was all about composting!
We had a wonderful crafts activity station where the children painted their own compost buckets in groups, a reading activity that taught them about why composting is good and an insightful activity led by Maggie teaching the kids how and what to compost. We joined them for lunch after the lesson and brought up a compost bin for them to discard their compostable lunch scraps in. It was a great first day and we really enjoyed seeing the kids eager to learn and apply that knowledge.
Week two was a lesson about seeds!
The kids got to have a great lesson where they first learned about seeds, how to plant them and how they grow. We brought them to the garden and had them plant pea, carrot and spinach seeds. After planting the seeds they rotated to the seed card group, where they made macaroni art cards but instead of macaroni they used seeds! They also had a reading lesson which assisted in understanding the lesson about seeds they had learned. I know they couldn't wait to show their parents the art they had made!
Week three was about water, we just finished this lesson today!
The children really had a great time. We introduced a tactile lesson to have them understand how water affects soil, we made mud pies by adding varying amounts of water to dirt having them feel and play with the soil and explaining the differences between fresh garden soil and store bought soil. Then we brought them back to the garden to water the seeds they had planted last week. They rotated to the other groups, one explaining the relationship of the elements to the Earth with a little blanket "stream" activity and another craft station, where they visited the stream by the classroom, observed the nature around them, identified the litter found around the stream and they then got to paint afterwards. We think they really enjoyed today's lesson :)
Next week we're gearing up for a harvesting lesson! We'll be harvesting Kale and cooking it so keep an eye out for more posts. We've also got plenty of events in coordination with the Appalachian Student Dietetics Association to keep the garden beautiful and blooming!
Our main event, The Earth Day Celebration Garden Party which will be open to students, parents and children is coming up on April 23rd, 2016 from 2-4PM. We're really excited and looking forward to it so please join us!
Please follow our Facebook page, ASU Child Development Center Learning Garden if you aren't already!
We've got great news to share about a new partnership at the ASU Child Development Center! We will be expanding our already beautiful on-campus pre-K learning garden to include an experiential course for undergraduate nutrition students: the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) Garden Lab.
This collaboration will blend garden-based education for both preschoolers and college students. This meaningful garden project will teach both young children and college nutrition students about how food is grown and the importance of organic agriculture. Lesson topics will include: plant basics, composting, vegetable production, pollinators, soils and nutrient density.
The goals of the HEN Garden Lab program are to provide undergraduate nutrition students with quality hands-on experiences in sustainable agriculture, while teaching gardening and healthy eating habits for preschoolers. Long term, this project will prepare nutrition students to incorporate sustainable agriculture into their professional practice while also increasing exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables among young children.
We are excited to announce this new partnership and are thrilled that Maggie Gartman, former garden coordinator at Hardin Park, will be remaining on the Lettuce Learn team. She will serve as Garden Coordinator for the ASU Child Development Center while also continuing her role as HEN Garden Lab Manager. Maggie brings rich experience to both the preschool garden and garden-based nutrition lab.
For more information contact Maggie at: eatyourvegetables87(at)gmail.com
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Office
Lower Level 171 Grand Blvd
PO Box 67
Boone, NC 28608