Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Rejuvenation!

During my first year teaching, we had an old aquarium in which we were trying to force some bulbs. It sat at eye level so the kids could see it. In the days before our spring break that year, we were playing with hard red wheat berries in the sensory table.  At one point, Noah took a couple handfuls of the wheat berries and sprinkled them into the aquarium. When we returned from spring break, our bulbs had still not done anything, but we did have a nice crop of wheat grass.

Since then, it's become a kind of tradition for us to fill the sensory table with potting soil during the week just prior to our spring break, planting it full of artificial flowers. We add terra cotta pots, small shovels, a few spray bottles for watering, small plastic critters, and for a couple of days, that's what we do: gardening dramatic play.

Then on Thursday and Friday, inspired by Noah's experiment that proved wheat grass grows prolifically without much care, we break out the wheat berries which we carefully plant in egg cartons to take home and tend over the break. Of course, even when preschoolers are very careful, there's liable to be spillage into the sensory table, which I then augment by adding a few fists full of my own before locking up for the week. We did it all again this year.

We returned to school yesterday many of us were surprised to find we'd grown a lush green lawn, a field of bright green against the rich soil, blades angled toward the windows. The room smelt of wheat grass.

We added the squirt bottles again, magnifying glasses, and scissors (for "mowing"). Some years the kids pretty much uproot the stuff by the end of Monday, but this year's group was relatively gentle, exploring the phenomenon without yanking up too much. We tried eating it. Most of the kids didn't care for the taste, but at least they tried it. 

We also discovered we'd spilled a few radish seeds. We know they're radish sprouts because we tasted those too.

We've had a very cold, wet spring, so we really haven't had the chance to do much gardening outdoors in our raised bed garden. Made last summer by Jody's mom Jennifer from wood and plants salvaged from our old place before we moved, it had always been intended as a temporary measure until we had the time to create a new larger garden. It wasn't, therefore, built to last and some of the nails where starting to separate from the decomposing wood.

Over the break, a group of parents took on the task of building a new garden, relocating it to a spot with better sun.

And like the surprise of finding a wheat grass meadow in the sensory table, we returned to school with the surprise of a whole new garden!

We got right to work on the task of tending, moistening the soil, using the cast iron hand pump as our water source. (This is a very good thing. Kids tend to over water, but with the pump being a ways off and our watering cans being smallish, I don't think we'll have much of a problem with that.)

We got to revisit our wheat berry planting project from before the break, this time with full knowledge of what was going to happen.

We also build a "garden sculpture" by driving a metal rod into the ground, then sliding pots onto it one at a time, filling each with soil as we went. We then planted it with wheat grass as well. If the weather stays reasonably warm, we're anticipating a piece of green art as tall as our heads. We might add some lentils to it today, just for variety.

Just as exciting for many of us was to return to find a new set of concrete stairs poured for us by the church as well as a new ramp from the parking lot making the building more accessible.

What a lot of rejuvenating newness this spring has brought us!

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1 comment:

Juliet Robertson said...

Really like the layout of the new garden. Thanks for the update

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