Compost builders, bug explorers, 1st grade gardeners extraordinaire…

15 Apr

This week, we have a guest blog post from Ms. Jessica Phillips, 1st grade teacher at River Place Elementary. Ms. Phillips was one of the first teachers to make the Titan Garden a part of her class’ schedule and she is now in her second year of bringing her students out to the garden.  And we’ve discovered some things about Ms. Phillips too, like she is NOT afraid of bugs-even Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (see picture below).  So here is Ms. Phillips guest blog post, and thank you to all of our wonderful teachers who make the Titan Garden a learning experience for their students. 

“Ms. Phillips, look, it’s what The Garden Lady was talking about.” One of my students said this to me at recess after a morning garden lesson about seeds. She held in her hand a collection of small flattened spheres with spines all over them meant to annoyingly hook onto whatever clothing or fur that happened to pass their way. Sticker burrs are what I usually call these gems, annoying is what I call them when picking them from my socks. They’ve developed a genius way to spread themselves far and wide and my first-graders are getting it. 

They’re also getting a lot more. How plants grow, plant parts, and what plants need to live are all topics that just barely skim the surface of the opportunities available in the River Place Garden all thanks to Bonnie Martin, who is not very contrary but rather diligent, dedicated, and darn good at what she has made of a little bit of earth. Botany, geometry, measurement, science, social studies, teamwork, appreciation and understanding of nature, conservation, poetry, graphing, temperature, building, making contributions, observing the world around you, and patience come closer to describing what my students and I have learned this year, thus far. She’s also the one we have lovingly come to call The Garden Lady.

Sometimes with our beloved Garden Lady as a guide, sometimes on our own, we have graphed plant growth, measured the area of a flower bed, practiced fractions using the herb wheel, learned how to use a thermometer, built a compost bin, learned exactly how the Indians helped the Pilgrims, learned about rainwater collection, and observed weather and changes in the environment from the tops of the trees to the itty bitty bugs on the ground that only a first-grader could find. And this is just to name a very few of the adventures we have had. 

We planted and watered and waited and watered and waited some more for an entire salad bowl to grow which we then carefully harvested and ate ferociously.  We are truly, truly blessed to have the garden, The Garden Lady, and her master assistants that never mind all my inquiries. My students look forward to time in this outdoor classroom with eager hearts and minds as do I. So, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Martin, quite the garden Spartan, how doesyour garden grow? With love, care, time, and patience and much, much more, I know. For that, my students and I are thankful and we can’t wait to see you in the garden. 

Ms. Phillips and her students using teamwork to construct new compost bins for the Titan Garden.


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