Update: School Gardens

Earlier this week, I presented a soil unit Power Point for 150 elementary school kids to get ready to start up the school gardens for spring. I could never have predicted how urban children would react to the world beneath their feet.

After we collected cafeteria veggie waste from each of five different grades at lunch (1st thru 5th, a paper box’s worth each lunch), some classes and their teachers tagged along after lunch to see me build lasagna gardens with their own eyes.

They circled around the garden bed and gave me their ears and eyes. We talked about fungus (showed them the leaf mold). We talked about earthworms and nematodes (showed them some wrigglers!). They watched as I moved aside a section of soil in the bed, then layer wet cardboard, their food waste, compost, dry leaves, then more wet cardboard, more waste, more compost, more leaves…then finish by topping it all with the soil I had moved off one shovel at a time. All the while, raised hands asked great questions for which I had an answer.

I even cracked a joke or two:

Why is it the mushroom always gets invited to the cool parties? A: Because he’s really just a FUN GUY.

One end of each bed is left as is so that kids can compare how seeds grown into plants with and without organic amendments.

Should be a great science experiment — nature hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Once it gets watered, this 2nd bed (like the 1st one the day before) will be ready for seeds. The 4th grade students — the garden’s stewards — will lightly water the beds daily until the seedlings have established, then will leave them to nature, watering only occasionally if required.

Elapsed time for each garden presentation? 20 minutes.

Educational benefit? PRICELESS.

In somewhat of an impromptu fashion, four additional classes and the PTO president have also spectated the process. As kids started bugging their teachers about what they can do to help with the project, we couldn’t help but give them a peek and no one — not even me — had to get dirty.

5th Grade Lunch Waste

Garden Bed #1
Second section showing layers.
(First section to the right done.)

Okay, well maybe I got a little dirty. And I certainly got a whole lotta love and hugs from some wonderful kids. That’s a great day in my book!

Stay tuned!

11 thoughts on “Update: School Gardens

      1. Thanks so much for offering to help. The first question I have, is since I won’t be starting it until September next year, are there things I should do before I leave in June?

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      2. Nothing at all. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Nature’s been gardening for millennia without us — it will take no time to crank it up whenever you’re ready. I’ll be here!

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  1. Just as your blog is titled, dirt and kids go great together! What fun for them to learn with your assistance. I am sure a great time will be had throughout the season from start to finish. Kudos to you for introducing dirt & earth to them!

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    1. Yay! So glad you came by to visit and leave your mark. It is definitely a win-win, for kids and earth. These guys are such a joy and eager to learn. Have a great weekend, and thanks for coming by DirtNKids.

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  2. Fantastic!!!! A great way to get everyone involved, loved that they used their own garbage, and a great idea to leave part of it without the extra compost materials for comparison. I look so forward, just the like the grade schoolers, to seeing what comes up out of this, Shannon.

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    1. Using their own waste was the hook I’m sure. They were bummed today I wasn’t collecting (cool front had it cold AND rainy) and I had lots of mini-chats about seeds and earth and microbes as they are their lunches. These kids are smart!! Such an untapped resource that I’m hoping to exploit. Thanks for the comment, Jet. I can always count on you for the nicest things to say here. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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