The Garden Project *
Facilitated by Miss Mary Erin, Miss Nancy, Miss Aprille
When signs of spring began to emerge from winter's sleep, the children began to talk about summery weather. They talked about wearing shorts and playing in the sprinkler. They talked about flowers and cherry tomatoes. They remembered the garden.
Their garden project began this year in this way, by remembering the preschool garden from the past two years. They looked at previous garden photographs in Miss Mary Erin's photo album. During Circle Time, the class talked about what kinds of plants were planted in previous years. They talked about what plants they liked and which ones had grown well.
Then the children drew pictures of the previous year's garden.
After drawing pictures and looking at photographs the children used two books as their inspirational resources. They used The Garden Primer and The Mix and Match Color Guide for Annuals and Perennials. The children were inspired to draw again. This time many of the drawings were done in a map format. Many of the children chose to draw this way because they had been involved in a map project previously.
As the weather became warmer, their excitement grew. The children next created garden stakes to be used in the block area of the preschool classroom. Many children chose to draw what they remembered. Others chose to draw specific plants from the garden books. Their drawings were attached to popsicle sticks and blocks.
The next day they built a block garden.
The children experimented with making their block garden bigger to accommodate all of the garden stakes. Several of the children decided that they wanted to plant fruit trees.
To give the illusion of having tall trees in the block garden, the orange and apple tree garden stakes were put on top of chairs.
The children wanted to plant the stakes in the garden. Being able to play in the actual garden space allowed them to talk about what they really wanted to plant. Together with Miss Nancy and Miss Mary Erin the children began the process of weeding out the plants that they didn't want.
In the classroom the children talked about how certain plants like to grow in certain climates. they looked at a garden zone map of the United States and compared the different colored zones. They talked about how oranges grow in Florida and how mild the winters are there. The children came to the conclusion that the orange trees would die if they were left outside to survive a Connecticut winter. They also chose to eliminate the other fruit trees as well as plants with thorns and plants that would take over the small garden space.
After the children made all of their planting decisions it was time to turn over the soil in the garden. As the children were digging they uncovered earthworms. Finding the earthworms excited them. Each time a new worm was found they showed each other. They also took special care to find new homes in the soil for each worm.
With the soil prepared the children went back inside and drew pictures about this year's garden. There were others signs of their excitement emerging on the playground also. They were creating little gardens of picked flowers and leaves in the sandbox and throughout the rocks on the playground.
The day before the children planted they picked out individual plants to draw. They used live plants as models. There were blue lobelia, daisies, marigolds and strawberries.
The children drew in color for the first time during this project. When they chose a marker they would try to match the color to the plant.
Finally planting day arrived! Using the sandbox shovels and their hands, holes were dug and flowers were gently placed in the ground. .
Afterwards they waited
and watched their
* The Garden Project occurred in 2002. It is a wonderful example of a child led project that captured the children's interest for many weeks and took shape using many "languages". It is just one example of emergent curriculum; one example of the many projects that have sprung from the children's hearts and minds within the Room To Grow community.
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