Mill Valley Children’s Garden at Edna Maguire Elementary School

Today was my first day working with the garden program at Edna Maguire Elementary School, which is run by Kristy Studnicki. I will be volunteering every thursday from now on, working with a third grade class, fifth grade class, and three kindergarten classes. My experience working in the garden today with five different classes on a variety of projects was extremely rewarding and a lot of fun. Kristy has adopted the new district science standards and integrated it into her curriculum, which is something that the school hasn’t even done yet. Her projects and curriculum are heavily inspired by curriculum from The Edible Schoolyard and Education Outside. She incorporates lessons in science, math, nutrition, cooking, and gardening, and chooses projects to focus on based on grade level.

Today, the third graders continued working on their radish growth experiment, a project where they planted radish seeds in different beds, some very close together in large amounts, and others spread out and with only a few seeds. They have been watching these  seeds sprout and measuring their growth, logging predictions and findings in their journals. Today’s lesson involved laying out the radishes from each bed on separate trays and comparing stem size, leaf size, and radish size. What the students found was that the radishes grew larger in the beds where there were only a few spread out seeds, compared to the beds where there were a lot more seeds close together. Afterwards, we cut up some of the larger radishes and allowed the kids to taste them with butter and salt.

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The fifth grade class learned about lasagna mulching and began layering veggie scraps, manure, coffee grounds, and compost onto a large plot that I covered in perlite. This involved a lot of carrying, shoveling and spreading, which was then followed with a fun garden game that involved running around, hiding nests and filling them with beans before predators found your nest.

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The kindergarten classes had a lesson on rolly pollies, where they were each given a plastic container and told to explore the garden in search of rolly pollies after a brief conversation about where rolly pollies like to live. This was a lot of fun and involved poking in the dirt, lifting up rocks and digging in garden beds. After the kids  had explored enough to find at least one rolly pollie each, they brought them back to the table, dumped their findings onto trays and used magnifying glasses to look closely at the bugs.

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