Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ms. Creed's 1st Grade Class Learns about Vegetables and Fruit

This week Ms. Creed's 1st graders learned about vegetables and fruit. They also made a class ABC book about fruits and vegetables and ate some vegetables.

Ms. Marie placed a lot of different vegetables and fruit at the front of the room and asked the children to identify them. Working together they did it. Beets and radish were a bit confusing-they can look so similar-but the beet leaves are longer and have more veins. 

Next the children were given a sheet with a letter of the alphabet. They drew pictures of fruit or vegetables that started with that letter. "Q" was a hard one--quince...but some other letters were much easier!

We went outside to the garden beds where the children could see kale, arugula and tomatoes growing. They saw the bed that they'll plant in soon.

Finally, they enjoyed a snack of broccoli, lettuce, carrot and sugar snap peas. One of the boys said, "I never eat vegetables, but I like this"! 


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ms. Palo's Class Study Native Plants at School

Marquez School 4th graders are learning about social studies by way of native plants. Recently Ms. Palo's 4th graders met at the native garden at the north end of the school patio. There we discussed some of the plants that have been planted there-manzanita, deer grass, toyon, California sagebrush and monkey flower.  All of these plants were and are used by local Native Americans. The students also looked at white sage and Cleveland sage plants that we'll plant another day.

These plants can be found in the Santa Monica Mountains just a couple of miles away.

The Native Americans used the native plants for food, medicine and other daily uses. Here are just a few of there uses. Manzanita and toyon branches were used to make arrow shafts. Deer grass is woven into baskets. The leaves of California sagebrush and the monkey flower were used as medicine. Toyon was also used as medicine and food. White sage leaves are dried and then used in ceremonies. Cleveland sage leaves are used for medicine and food.

These plants are also drought tolerant and many of them attract our local pollinators.

California Sagebrush

Smudge stick made from white sage

Friday, February 2, 2018

2nd graders in Ms. Fein's class and Ms. Yoshida's class Learn about Decomposing

This week 2nd graders in Ms. Fein's class and Ms. Yoshida's class learned about decomposing and organic matter in soil as part of their introduction to composting.  They put fruit and veggie scraps. newspaper, coffee grounds and coffee filters and dirt in a plastic bag. We'll look at the bags in a few weeks to see how the contents have changed. At that time we'll start to put items in our worm bin.

We discussed some decomposers including pill bugs and red wriggler worms.

Ms. Newman's Kindergarteners Learn about Veggies and Plant

Yesterday Ms. Newman's kindergarteners visited the edible garden for the first time. We discussed their favorite fruits and vegetables and then reviewed the vegetables that they were going to plant. We named lettuce, kale, broccoli, sugar snap peas and carrots.  The children planted sugar snap pea seeds and then seedlings of kale, lettuce, broccoli and beets in their Peter Rabbit/salad bed.

Thanks to community volunteer Carolyn Hasselkorn and parent Crystal for helping the children plant.

The children enjoyed sampling carrots and sugar snap peas in the garden. Later Ms. Newman was prepared a taste of salad using broccoli, peas and lettuce.

One boy said, "this was fun! I've never gardened before!" Hopefully he'll continue to enjoy gardening!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

4th Graders Learn uses of some California Native Plants

Last week Ms. Chaides 4th graders spent time in our new Native American Garden. The garden contains a lot of California sagebrush, monkey flower, deer grass, toyon and manzanita. We'll be adding more plants to it this winter.  We reviewed the fact that these plants can be found in our local Santa Monica Mountains that are visible from the school patio.

Manzanita has been used for medicine and food.  California sagebrush is used for medicine and is a plant used in smudging. It's leaves are very fragrant. Sticky monkey flower leaves are sticky, thus the name. Parts of it are used for medicine. The Native Americans have used the branches of deer grass to make baskets.

The students observed a white sage plant that we'll plant soon. The leaves are very fragrant and the Chumash made smudge sticks from the plant for use in ceremonies.
California sagebrush

Ms. Keller's Class Plants in the Jefferson Garden

Last week Ms. Keller's class learned about Thomas Jefferson our 3rd President. Their learning centered around his interest in plants. They learned that he farmed at his plantation in Monticello, Virginia. His vegetable garden was 1,000 feet long and his slaves worked on the plantation. His favorite vegetable was peas and one of his favorite lettuce varieties was tennis ball lettuce. The students planted seeds of Champion of England peas and tennis ball lettuce in their garden bed. We purchased the seeds from Monticello.

We discussed seed saving-Jefferson saved seeds and in fact had Lewis and Clark bring back seeds and plants from their travels. The heirloom seeds that we plant were saved from plants at Monticello. We also discussed the meaning of the term heirloom, eg. something that is saved and passed down.

Jefferson made detailed notes about his planting, his successes and his failures. That's why we know so much about his gardening! Thanks to our scribe for the day for taking notes.

Thanks to Amanda Keston for making Sugar Snap Peas and Pasta from The kids loved it!  Thanks also to Carolyn Hasselkorn and Ms. Evie for helping the kids plant!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Garden Related Activities when Kids are out of School

If your kids like to garden they might like some of the following activities that they can do at home.

1) Kids might like to plant some cool season veggies in pots or in the ground. Remember that everything takes longer to grow now that it's not so warm outside. For that reason, I plant seedlings as well as seeds so I'll have vegetables to eat sooner.  I recommend asking the kids what they'd like to plant-usually it'll be their favorite vegetables. Check the back of the seed packets to see how long until germination. That might also be a factor in what you choose to plant!
2) You or they might want to plant some bulbs. At Marquez we're planting some red tulips behind yellow pansies. They'll look good together.  I also like planting paper whites-they are easy to grow and smell great!
3) Kids can research what they'd like to plant in a spring garden and then order seed catalogs.
4) If they want to start seeds indoors using grow lights like we have at Marquez, check out the grow light gardens from Gardeners Supply.
5) Plant some wildflower seeds. California poppy seeds can be found at most nurseries. (Kids learn about poppies in our study of plants used by indigenous peoples). Theodore Payne has a large variety and you can check on-line and have seeds sent to you. 

Wind chimes:
1) Wind chimes can be made out of various materials. Some Marquez students are going to make some out of terracota pots for our sensory garden. I'm going to make some out of xylophone pieces. There are lots of good ideas on Pinterest.

Garden gifts for others:
1) Kids can paint a terracota pot with acrylic paint and then plant seeds or seedlings in it as a gift.  They could give someone a small herb garden or salad garden. They can also do this with paperwhite bulbs.

Other garden related activities:
1) Kids can help make raised beds. has some raised beds that are easy to put together. 2) Make a worm bin or purchase one and start composting with worms. The worms do best at temps from mid 50 to mid-70s so consider keeping the bin in the garage. Worm bins can be made out of large Rubbermaid containers. Just put holes in the top so the worms can breathe and some in bottom for drainage. Put another bin underneath to catch moisture. Directions for worm composting:

1) Kids might like to read books about gardening either factual or fiction. Kids Can Compost is an introductory book about composting, Planting a Rainbow, Compost Stew, Growing Vegetable Soup are also good books for young gardeners.
2) Garden project books: Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots has fun projects as does The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids.