Garden Project // Planting Season 2017

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This spring our class had an amazing opportunity to collaborate with a local community garden.   It is important to me that the students have the opportunity for land based learning; therefore this project has been near & dear to me && I am excited to share how our class was involved this year.

 

The community garden is conveniently located on the next block over from our school, which was great as we could walk there in about 5 minutes.  Through the months of May and June we would visit on a weekly basis.    During our visits we were able to participate in some great learning opportunities, such as planting and caring for our garden, creating bird feeders, rock painting, and a variety of outdoor play and food experiences.

 

At the garden, there is a cluster of tables for seated and whole group activities, as well as a dramatic play mud kitchen, and many plots for growing.  The garden plots were lined with paths which helped guide the children carefully through the garden.

Early in the year I met with the garden coordinator to plan our visits and align our vision of what the garden would be for the children in my class.  We accomplished what we set out to do and collaborated to make a safe outdoor space, rich in learning and that promoted a sense of exploration and a connection to mother nature.

Gardening developed each child’s capacity to care and connect with mother nature, but it also nurtured their empathy and connections to the community, especially through the planting and education surrounding our heart garden.

 

In our community we have a history of residential schools, and the heart garden {combined with stories and conversations} was a way to introduce the children to Indian Residential Schools and Truth and Reconciliation.

“Heart gardens honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each heart represents the memory of a child lost to the residential school system, and the act of planting represents that individual’s commitment to finding their place in reconciliation.

 From the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society:
Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams. 

As the school year ended, I continued to care for and harvest our garden with the help of students from our schools summer program.  && with the garden season now complete, I have been able to reflect on this rich learning experience: the conversations, questions, the stories and connections prompted by our time in the garden.  I appreciate the partnership we were able to create with the community garden and their patient, planned, and thoughtful staff.  There are many benefits to gardening with children & I am already looking forward to next years growing season.

 

@mstinyteacher

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Long Range Planning in Play-Based Kindergarten

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This is my first time long range planning for Kindergarten and it has been a learning process!

There is a challenge in maintaining the integrity of a child-centred, play-based classroom while exploring authentic “inquiries” && staying accountable to planning responsibilities and the curricular outcomes.

Teachers in effective Kindergarten classrooms regularly observe, document, and interpret. Through this process, teachers gather information to guide scaffolding and to plan inquiries.

Saskatchewan Kindergarten Curriculum

I began by going through my curriculum outcomes across all subject areas.

From there I grouped outcomes by potential topics or inquiry questions.

For example, the following Health, Science, Social Studies and Arts Education outcomes could be combined to develop an inquiry about Plants or Animals; it can involve but is not limited to – how Indigenous artists represent plants and/or animals, outdoor classroom, stewardship, recycling, gardening, farmers markets, farming, habitats, flowers, trees, life cycles, composting, Mother Nature…  If students demonstrate an interest in any of these topics; then we could start to ask questions to address these outcomes, such as, How can we take care of Mother Earth?  How does a seed become a plant? Why do dogs have fur?

USCK.1 Develop basic habits to establish healthy relationships with self, others, and the environment.
LTK.1 Examine observable characteristics of plants, animals, and people in their local environment.
RWK.2 Develop and demonstrate stewardship of the environment in daily actions, in an effort to promote balance and harmony.
CHK.2 Recognize a wide variety of arts expressions as creations of First Nations and Métis peoples. 

Once exploring and organizing outcomes into potential topics; I searched for read alouds and looked for other resources- like printable mini books && ideas for invitations that compliment these topics.  Then I also created a sample inquiry plan for each topic containing these resources.  These inquiry plans can be easily adapted as needed and will be a great starting point for planning throughout the year.

Here is a sample inquiry plan I created for the mentioned outcomes.

photomothernature-inquiry

mother-nature-plantsanimals_investigation

I put the inquiry topics into a tentative order; however, these long range plans are meant to be a “living” arrangement that reflect the students interests, interpretations and curiosities – so although I see the topic of “traditions and celebrations” fitting well in December when we discuss a variety of winter celebrations, if my students are drawn to study Thanksgiving and Halloween celebrations in October, if they are pretending “birthday parties” in the home centre, or if they are sharing experiences about Powwows in the summer – then I may need to demonstrate flexibility and creativity!  However, if they aren’t yet asking those questions or sharing their insights about “traditions and celebrations” then I will be prepared to guide them into those areas of learning in December as outlined.

@mstinyteacher