Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gardening and Eating in Ms. Farrell's Class

Mrs. Farrell's 3rd grade class has been growing seedlings under a Grow Light in their classroom since October. The Grow Light was purchased using funds from last year's Whole Kids Foundation grant. This week the children planted the seedlings in their upper garden bed.  They planted carrots, beets, radishes, and two kinds of kale (one is called dinosaur kale!). While one half of the class planted, the other group practiced their writing skills by composing 1-2 paragraph summaries describing the 2 month process.  After the hard work was done, the children enjoyed eating colorful carrots, radishes, and delicious male chips, made by Molly Sigworth. Thanks to Laurie Vander Veen for coordinating!

Ms. Connor's Class and Ms. Yoshida's Class Eat a Rainbow

On December 12,  2nd graders in Ms. Connor's class and Ms. Yoshida's class learned about eating a rainbow.  It's important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables because we get vitamins and nutrients from them.  They help prevent disease.  We started by drawing a rainbow on the white board and labeling the colors. The students then helped fill in the fruits and vegetables that went with the colors. Along the way I gave occasional hints such as, we eat the root of this plant, it's red and it's not a carrot. The children generated most names for the green section.

The children wrote in their garden journals while I made a smoothie that used foods from most of the colors. The journal page was titled Eating a Rainbow. They wrote the names of some of the fruits and veggies in the rainbow.  Some also copied the smoothie recipe, which was adapted from the Whole Kids Foundation.

Here is some more information in case you want to make your own smoothies at home: It's fun to pick fruits and veggies and see how they go together!

The smoothie recipe that we used:

1 c. spinach
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2 c. blueberries
1 persimmon
1 banana

Ms. Palo's Students Plant in the Native American Garden

On December 9 Ms. Palo's 4th graders learned about some native plants and planted in the Native American Garden.  They planted California poppy seeds and narrow leaf milkweed. We discussed how the Tongva and Chumash used acorns, deer grass and California poppies. Acorns were ground and made into a paste, deer grass was woven into baskets and the roots of poppies were used to relieve toothaches.  The California poppy is our state flower. Narrow leaf milkweed is a California native plant and monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant.

The students also learned that there are common names and botanical names for plants. For example, the coast live oak is the common name and the botanical name is Quercus agrifolia. The botanical name is Latin.

We also discussed what mulch is and how it is used.  The mulch in the Native American Garden keeps weeds from growing and also helps conserve moisture so we don't need to water so often.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ms. Conn's Class Saves Seeds

Today Ms. Conn's fifth graders saved seeds from several different plants. Using a screen donated to Marquez from Seed Savers Exchange, they sorted seeds from sunflowers, red buckwheat, milkweed and blanket flower. We discussed how the seeds are dispersed by wind and pollinators. In the case of the red buckwheat and blanket flower they saw several different stages of the flower and seeds. In the case of the milkweed they saw the milky white material that helps transport the seeds.

The students used the seed packets from Seed Savers Exchange to save the seeds. They wrote the common names and scientific names on the packets. They now should know that the scientific name is in Latin!

When all fifth graders have done this lesson, they'll each be able to take home a seed.

After the lesson, the students enjoyed a kale/mango/banana/apple juice smoothie. We discussed that these smoothies do not have preservatives, that they are made from fresh ingredients and less expensive than the ones you can purchase in the store.

Red buckwheat seeds

Sunflower seeds
Milkweed seeds

Ms. Connor's Students Look at their Compost Bags

On November 27 Ms. Connor's students visited the garden for their second composting lesson. They looked at the compost bags that they had made two weeks prior and saw that some items had stayed the same and some had changed. The apple piece was mushy and orange, the egg shell was more transparent, the paper and  cardboard were mushy and soft. The screw and piece of plastic were unchanged. They did see a very tiny white worm.

We read part of the book Composting, that talked about decomposers. They learned that this worm was one. We'll check out the bag in two more weeks to see what's changed.

The students wrote about the changes in their garden journal.

After the lesson the students made salads with lettuce, carrots, corn, and peas. They love salad!  They put leftover clean veggie scraps in the compost bin and looked at the worms. They left their forks for me to wash. At Marquez we reuse our disposable utensils!

Ms. Yoshida's Students Look at Their Compost Bags

On November 27, Ms. Yoshida's students looked at the compost bags at they'd made two weeks before and saw some changes. The apple was mushy and orange inside, the grass and leaves were soft, the membrane of the egg shell was more visible, the cardboard was thinner and softer and the paper had disintegrated a bit. The screw and plastic bag piece had not changed. We'll discuss later why the screw and plastic bag aren't decomposing.

We'll check in on the bags in two more weeks to see how much more rot and decomposition we see. This is what happens in a worm bin, but the worms help with the decomposition.

The kids looked at our new worms and enjoyed seeing them move. They put them back in the compost bin with some clean vegetable scraps from our salad. They also watered the bin. The contents of the bin need to be moist like a sponge.

The children enjoyed a salad with lettuce, corn, carrots sugar snap peas and broccoli. They love salad!