Monday, November 28, 2016

Farm to Farmers' Market to Garden to Food Gatherers to Table-

Objectives are catalysts for lesson planning. School-wide themes are navigational tools to reach those objectives. Place-based learning opportunities are vehicles to arrive at an expected destination. Our Fall theme of "Explorations" allowed us a vast playing field of potential learning opportunities. Although activities and projects sometimes appeared spontaneous and unrelated, they serendipitously ended up in a very nice interrelated theme "pot." 

Our Math lessons on "shapes" led us to a visit to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. We browsed several vendor's tables and found beautiful circular flowers, "tooth shaped" bell peppers, multifaceted gourds and two different colors of oval-shaped egg plants.  We compared and contrasted the size of the market's pumpkins to the ones we selected from a recent trip to Three Cedars Pumpkin Orchard.  

Our colorful bounty from the market yielded great examples of  both geometric and organic 3 dimensional shapes.

Kindergartners also chatted with a gentleman who was a metal smith and knife sharpener.  Coincidentally, we encountered a literary character this week who also used sharp tools to create while reading The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers. This creator of giant topiaries brought joy to a town of very otherwise solemn residents.  A second book, The Curious Garden by Peter Brown told about another character who was able to positively impact his community with his creativity, ideas and willingness to help out.

Another vendor demonstrated how she uses recyclables like toilet paper tubes to create clever finger puppets and other crafty works of art.

Another day we read a book called Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper and were prompted to make some soup of our own and even included our pumpkin from the orchard trip.  Kindergartners used tremendous slicing, chopping and kitchen safety skills. Soon delicious smells permeated our room and tickled our senses but Ks were still not convinced at taste-testing time.  Only a little more than half of the class liked the soup but at least all gave it a try.  Reviews ranged from 'Loved it!', 'Pretty much good', 'Not bad' to 'I tasted it but it was not good...No thank you!'

Yet another day, Kindergartners rolled up their sleeves and went out to harvest a few plots of Normal Park Community Garden in Ypsilanti.  Jessica, the garden chair (and beloved 2x former K parent) allowed us to come back to the garden to see the fruit (and vegetables) of our labor from our plot preparation and plantings that we did last Spring (blog post "Inch by Inch, Row By Row" May 16th) and also to pick the remaining produce that was there.  

First, bags were distributed to collect squash, herbs, lettuces, and other vegetables.

We had an opportunity to sample some herbs and gain information about less known produce like fuzzy "dinosaur" lettuce/kale.

Then the harder work began!  Kindergartners enthusiastically volunteered to work as teams to haul what remained of the garden plots to a nearby compost heap.

Afterward, we delivered the 9 pounds of vegetables that the children harvested to Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor. The organization welcomed our donation wholeheartedly! The friendly gentleman who worked there explained that our donation, along with so many others, will provide fresh local produce to those who would not readily have access to fresh fruits and vegetables otherwise.

A very large weight scale awaited our goods and of course we had to try it out on ourselves.

 The Kindergartners appeared very proud of their efforts to help their community!

Lastly, we said thank you and goodbye to our friend Jessica then sprawled out on the grounds to eat a well earned lunch and refreshing snacks.