By Kirsten Saylor
Third grade garden camp, a 9-week garden experience, is officially underway at Bruce Vento Elementary School. During camp, students learn about what keeps a garden healthy and develop an interest in healthy eating. Through this experience, we hope they will come away with the following skills and experiences:
- Working together as a team.
- Scientific observation, notation, and inquiry as a means of learning.
- Learning what plants need to survive.
- Gardening is both the means and the end — bridging mental and physical health.
- Ability to read a seed packet and gain information to help them plant in the future.
- Pride in doing the work themselves, harvesting, and sharing with others.
We work with each class for 40 minutes. During this week's Orientation (session 1), students practiced reading a seed packet. They transferred what they learned to a worksheet in their garden packet and explored the language used in the garden (e.g. germination).
|Students reading seed packets during camp orientation.|
Garden camp is run by camp counselors — adult volunteers, most of whom are Master Gardeners, who lead small teams of four kids each. Each group will have their own garden bed. These students will work with the same counselor each week, allowing them to learn a little more about each other and how they work. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the counselors' faces after this first session.
Student’s learning will be reinforced throughout their time in the garden. Each week they will build on what they learned in previous sessions. After the first session (Orientation), we'll meet in the garden (weather-willing). And the information they recorded will start to come alive.
As the camp director, I had the advantage of observing and redirecting as needed. In addition, I was able to talk with teachers. They all noted how engaged the students were. Indeed, the vast majority of students were consistently leaning in and checking out seeds, helping each other, or engaging with the counselor. There was something for everyone.
This Garden Camp would not be possible without the assistance of University of Minnesota Extension Ramsey County Master Gardeners and a wonderful community members. All of them are volunteering their time and sharing their expertise and joy of gardening with small teams of students. We look forward to seeing growth as we show up at the same time week after week to bring the joy and wonder of gardening to students.
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.