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On this blog, we share regular updates about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership between Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium and Bruce Vento Elementary School.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I'm so glad we had this time together...

By Judy Myers

With my retirement in December, the partnership between Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul and Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium (BV/CYFC) is coming to an end. During these past four years, Bruce Vento teachers, staff, and administration have created a trauma-sensitive learning environment where students thrive and learn.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Creating Sanctuary Space for Teachers at Bruce Vento School

By Cari Michaels, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium 

Teachers and staff at the Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul are enjoying a new lounge space designed to give them “sanctuary” from the stresses and strains they encounter every day on the job. The new space, which opened in late August, is the culmination of a year-long effort led by CYFC as part of its Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners project.

In fall 2016, we in CYFC set out to create a sanctuary space for teachers and staff at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. As part of our Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership, this project focused on caring for the teachers and staff who work with students every day. Teachers put in long days filled with solving problems and meeting children’s needs within an ever-changing environment. Often their days allow little time to leave their classroom, connect with one another, or even eat lunch. We wanted to create a space that served a similar purpose to The Calming Room at the school, but with all the amenities that teachers might need during the day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Garden Camp Finale

By Kirsten Saylor, School Garden Coordinator

The last session of Garden Camp, May 22, fell on a brilliant day! The sun was out and a gentle breeze ruffled the air. On this afternoon, third grade students at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul harvested what they had grown in the school’s garden. They learned how to harvest the produce safely and wash it, and then they tasted the culmination of their work.

This was also a highly coordinated session! We had pushed back the harvest a week in the hope of giving more time for crops to grow.

close-up of a raised garden bed with lettuce, radishes, and peas growing
Buce Vento's well-marked raised beds.

Only half of the counselors were able to join us as a result. Working with SNAP-Ed Educator Shirley Vang and St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Services' Jill Westlund, we were able to adapt the initial strategy so that every student would be involved in one of three stations: Harvesting, Wash, and Salad!

Half of the class would harvest and wash in the first half of the session, while the other half would have a quick lesson on salad making, nutrition, and preparing melon. At half time, students switched from Salad Station to Harvesting, and from Harvesting to Salad Station.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Why We're Not Planting Beans or Peas or Grass

By Kirsten Saylor, School Garden Coordinator

At Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, students in Pre-K, kindergarten, and fifth grade are planting seeds indoors before planting outside in the school’s garden. They are learning both the principles and practice of planting in a garden — and we’re doing it without beans, peas, or grass.

three Pre-K students working with plastic cups and soil in white buckets
Pre-K students prepping indoor planting containers.

“Why not beans or peas or grass?” you may wonder. “They are tried and true plants of elementary classroom planting!”

Admittedly, we're taking a risk.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Learning about Soil and Water at Garden Camp

By Kirsten Saylor, School Garden Coordinator

Third grade garden camp kicked off last month at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. During camp students learn about planting seeds, how to read a seed packet, care for seedlings, watch growth, and harvest mid-May. If you haven’t already, you can read about Session One here: Third Grade Garden Camp Begins. Sessions Two and Three are here: Updates from Garden Camp.

Session 4: Soil

Once seeds are planted, students come to the garden for another three weeks to see how their plot changes, including the growth of the seedlings in terms of growth of shoot and roots, recording this information on a Daily Observation worksheet.

In addition, students take a deeper look at what plants need, and the first week was soil. Observing temperature, moisture, softness, and color of soils around the garden: in their raised bed, under the mulch, on an eroded area. They noted that under the mulch the soil was much cooler and wetter, while the surface of their plot was warm and quite dry despite recent rains. We compared the color and feel of the garden soil (dark, soft) with that of eroded soil (hard, rocky) and discussed what might be better for our plants to grow their roots in.

Students examine seedlings using a magnifying glass
Examining seedlings with a magnifying glass

Students started to see bugs! For some this was a real challenge to be around bugs. Those that were fine or enjoyed the insects, essentially taught their peers more about them and that they would not hurt them.
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