Introducing Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment

Here’s a photo summary from our summer adventures.

This afternoon at Third Sunday Nature Play we’ve got supplies for you and your family to do some storytelling with small clothespin people and view our materials from Summer School Programs.  Take a self-guided Quest in the Pinetum, with a handmade map from our Sprouts.

Do you ever stop to look closely at the variety of life thriving in the smallest green spaces: the cracks in the sidewalk, storefront container gardens, and green corridors next to your school-ground ballfields?  What if you were less than six inches tall?  Do you think you might notice more?
Do you ever stop to look closely at the variety of life thriving in the smallest green spaces: the cracks in the sidewalk, storefront container gardens, and green corridors next to your school-ground ball-fields? What if you were less than six inches tall? Do you think you might notice more?    [photo:  onsite clothespin people at the GEC dipping their feet in the soil, among the peas and lettuce]
This summer we challenged PreK-3rd graders to not only look closer at plants and how they function, but to change their perspective to that of a small Earthling, a clothespin person, and use plants as building blocks in careful imaginative play and design.
This summer we challenged PreK-3rd graders to not only look closer at plants and how they function, but to change their perspective to that of a small clothespin person, and use plants as building blocks in careful imaginative play and design. [photo:  Sprouts and their characters in our onsite program finding a home in the Nasturtiums and Sorrel]
Our Earthlings learn how to predict the weather, design parks and gardens, build with plant-based materials, and even farm their own small parcels of land.  They are decked out in original nature-based clothes and tools that the kids make.  They are unique and so much fun.
We learn how to predict the weather, design parks and gardens, build with plant-based materials, and even farm our own small parcels of land. We create small stewards, decked out in original nature-based clothes and tools that the Sprouts kids make. They are unique and so much fun.  [photo:  we greet oregano and thyme as part of the petting zoo in a summer school garden]
Students and Earthlings played with ideas and then with hands-on games, for an inquiry into how water moves through soil, how microclimates work, how to watch shade and sun, and measure precipitation, and how to help different plants thrive day to day.  During our first use of the Garden Towers, we grew so much together!   (Tower Garden week 6)
Students and small clothespin stewards play with ideas and with hands-on games.  We do an inquiry into how water moves through soil, how microclimates work, how to watch shade and sun, and measure precipitation, and how to help different plants thrive day to day. During our first use of the Garden Towers, we grew so much together!
[photo:  Hamilton Avenue School Tower Garden week 6]
 The Sprouts & Seedlings and their Earthlings spent time each week, observing growth around them and having fun with plants.    (Our tower garden at week 2)
The Sprouts & Seedlings and their clothespin stewards spent time each week, observing growth around them and having fun with plants.
[photo:  Hamilton Avenue School tower garden at week 2, with a guest plant petting zoo on the windowsill, ready for our demo]
Thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools by the Greenwich Alliance for Education, students and their earthlings were introduced to a wide range of plants.
Thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools by the Greenwich Alliance for Education, students were introduced to a wide range of plants.  [photo:  our tower garden sign, in a jungle of fragrant Lemon Verbana and Lemongrass]
Fifty-four edible plants were nurtured in vertical gardens (Garden Tower 2) on summer school school grounds, and educators brought in additional plants, from around the neighborhood, local school pollinator gardens, public green spaces, and the Garden Education Center greenhouse. (Golden Pear Tomatoes)
Fifty-four edible plants, all originally grown from seed in the Garden Education Center greenhouse by our dedicated volunteers, were nurtured in vertical gardens.   We used the Garden Tower 2 on summer school school grounds, and educators brought in additional plants, from around the neighborhood, local school pollinator gardens, public green spaces, and the GEC greenhouse. [photo:  Heirloom Yellow Pear Tomatoes growing in the tower]
This has been a wonderful summer for imaginative exploring in our green spaces.  Thanks to our enthusiastic participants! (Designing gardens and spaces with plants and plant parts)
This has been a wonderful summer for imaginative exploring in our green spaces. Thanks to our enthusiastic participants! [photo:  Designing gardens and green spaces with plants and plant parts, and compostable donations from Whole Foods]
"I liked when we played games like putting hay next to the plants"- Brian (borage, geraniums, & marigolds blooming)
“I liked when we played games like putting hay next to the plants”- Brian [borage, geraniums, blue basil & marigolds blooming in the tower]
"I liked when we all got wet with the spray bottles.  My favorite activity was when we all went outside to draw plants." -Vinny (strawberries)
“I liked when we all got wet with the spray bottles. My favorite activity was when we all went outside to draw plants.” -Vinny
[brilliant jewels, Strawberries in the tower]
"My favorite activity was when we made our earthlings and the mud pie.  I liked when we saw the plants."-Jeff
“My favorite activity was when we made our [clothespin people] and the mud pie. I liked when we saw the plants.”-Jeff [photo:  mud pies]
"I learned so much about different plants that I didn't know.  My favorite activity was doing the mud pie, it was really fun and my other favorite activity when when you showed us to move the water with the stick.  I liked when you showed us the little garden and when you were so nice to come and to show us about plants." - Nathaly
“I learned so much about different plants that I didn’t know. My favorite activity was doing the mud pie, it was really fun and my other favorite activity when when you showed us to move the water with the stick. I liked when you showed us the little garden and when you were so nice to come and to show us about plants.” – Nathaly [photo:  how long is the geranium today?  Using clothespin stewards as a measuring tool]
"Thank you for teaching plants and weather. My favorite activity was draw a picture plants." -Haruyuki
“Thank you for teaching plants and weather. My favorite activity was draw a picture plants.” -Haruyuki   [photo:  Jackson draws himself among “the community of plants]
"Thank you for showing us the garden and showing us how it can grow.  I liked when we spread the plants and we feel the spicky plants."
“Thank you for showing us the garden and showing us how it can grow. I liked when we spread the plants and we feel the spicky plants.” [photo:  constructing mini gardens with compostables]
"I appreciate you spending your time to teach us.  We had a lot of fun. Thank you"  -Ellen (Ms. D brought news and stories from the JC Kindergarten gardens and pollinator gardens)
“I appreciate you spending your time to teach us. We had a lot of fun. Thank you” -Ellen
(photo:  Ms. D brought photos, news and stories other school gardens, and the GEC learning garden.  Here:  A clothespin steward in the JC Kindergarten gardens)
"We had fun.  My favorite part was everything I learned about plants." -Samantha (a surprise cicada visitor)
“We had fun. My favorite part was everything I learned about plants.” -Samantha
[photo:  a surprise cicada visitor at the base of a tomato plant in the Cos Cob tower garden]
"My favorite part was when you took us outside to study plants." - Luke
“My favorite part was when you took us outside to study plants.” – Luke  [photo:  Mushroom Toddler groups onsite at the GEC Learning Garden, harvesting carrots with their small stewards, dressed in raffia and greens]
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“Thank you for teaching us. P.S. The wheat and sunflower are doing great and growing.” – Stephanie  [photo:  comic challenge to put your small steward in story, using a plant setting.  Sophia’s steward says, “Can’t wait to grind the wheatgrass!”
About the new Gardening for Stewarship Enrichment Program:

We piloted the Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment Program during the summer in the GEC Learning Garden and Montgomery Pinetum with the support of 19 Sprouts & Seedlings (age 3-6) onsite, and with our enthusiastic Mushrooms Toddler Group (age 1-3) and their caregivers.  In addition, thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools from the Greenwich Alliance for Education, we were able to bring the Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment pilot to 168 Sprouts & Seedlings in our school Outreach at the GPS Summer School Program.

This Enrichment is being offered in the fall to classrooms and after-school programs, to help them explore green spaces in their school grounds, gardens, borrowed classroom composting bins, and windowsills.  Please contact youth.director@gecgreenwich . org for more information, or to volunteer in Second Sunday Teens (age 12-17) for community service hours.

The curriculum was developed as part of Ms. D’s studies at Antioch University in their Nature-Based Early Childhood program.  It was also inspired by a visit to the the Game of Village in Nelson, NH, which is a more complex homesteading with “peeps” geared towards 4th-8th graders.  Their materials are available at http://www.thegameofvillage.com/

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