How do you get a bunch of second grade students excited about science? If you are Sally White, you have them grow an organic vegetable garden. Sally is the second grade teacher at St. Paul’s Christian Day School in Brenham. She is also an avid gardener. Each year, as a part of her science curriculum, she introduces her students to several plant related concepts. She then uses the hands on experience of the garden to reinforce those concepts. She calls her program “Going Green for God”. According to Sally “The kids love getting their hands dirty. The garden provides a way for me to get their initial interest level up and maintain it through out the year by constant visits to observe and document the changes in the garden.”
Sally built a raised bed garden at the school based on Mel Barthalomew’s square foot gardening methods. Her garden is an 8’ X 3’ raised bed with a trellis on the back. Each year her class plants both a fall and a spring garden. The kids get to plan their garden by selecting the appropriate plants for the appropriate season. This exercise in planning reinforces lessons learned about seasonality and helps develop their graphing skills. The kids are responsible for all of the care of the garden. They water, compost, weed and harvest. This fall, her class has harvested broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and lettuce. Spring plantings include carrots, lettuces, cucumbers and tomatoes. This year, she will be adding potatoes to the mix.
Sally also uses her garden to demonstrate and reinforce the Christian principle of stewardship. She teaches her students to be good stewards of God’s creation by caring for the garden with organic methods. Compost is a big part of this. She teaches kids about the processes involved in making compost and the value that it provides to the soil and ultimately the plants. Her compost lectures are always a hit. The kids love the fact that they can make something good out of “cow poo and garbage”! The compost lesson is reinforced before each planting when the kids add compost to the planting bed to “recharge” their soil. Good stewardship also means learning to live by the “waste not, want not” motto. Nothing grown in their garden goes to waste. The lunch staff often prepares the vegetables for the kids or the kids are allowed to take home the fresh produce. The greens and foliage go into her compost pile.
Our world is going through a lot of changes right now. Things like climate change and overpopulation are serious threats to the future of our planet. Kids across our world are going to grow up in a world that has much fewer certainties than the world their parents grew up in. By teaching her kids to be concerned, self reliant, good stewards of the earth, she hopes that she is “growing” a huge crop of great kids that will be a positive force on our future.