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The School Garden Integrating the Sciences and Play in an Outdoor Classroom

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  • The School GardenIntegrating the Sciences and Play in an Outdoor Classroom

    2009 ACEI International Convention and Exhibition

    Jeremy Winters Tracey Ring [email protected] [email protected] Middle Tennessee State University Middle Tennessee State University


  • The journey begins..An under-utilized space at a public elementary school inspires a project that evolves into an Herb Garden. This project reflects collaboration of the students, parents, teachers, a local university, and the community. The herb garden creates opportunities to integrate curriculum with aspects of play in an outdoor classroom.

  • The goals of the project are toCreate an outdoor classroom Expose students to herbs and plantsProvide unique learning opportunitiesProvide a realistic context for learningSupport the existing curriculum as well as pioneer specific lessons

  • What is Play?

    A holistic learning alternativeMeets students cognitive, emotional, physical, and social needsCan be unstructured or guided

  • Play in the GardenThe garden allows for a playful attitude. It also allows for spontaneous events that could not occur inside the classroom walls.

  • Why teach outdoors?Given the opportunities, children will choose to engage in outdoor before indoor tasks, perform hands-on and manipulative activities rather than complete worksheets, and associate with relevant and personal meaning as contrasted with the abstract or symbolic.

  • The Outdoor ClassroomInstructional Uses

    A learning centerA project-based stationArea for observationArea for reflection

  • The Outdoor ClassroomThe EnvironmentMan-made MaterialsPicnic TablesGazebosBirdhousesBricksNatural MaterialsDirtRocksPlantsTrees

  • The Outdoor ClassroomResearch

    Frost (2005) indicates that in the outdoor classroom the senses are heightened, consciousness is narrowed, self-consciousness disappears, and the person becomes absolutely absorbed in the activity (p. 9).

    The outdoors afford a particular variety of physical and personnel resources, invites naturalistic inquiry, ensures a range of observation and data collection opportunities, and provides aesthetic experiences (Burriss & Foulks, 2005).

  • The Outdoor ClassroomResearch (Continued)

    The Curriculum Principle in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM), reports that mathematics needs to be important and transferable to settings outside the class walls (NCTM, 2000).

    Lieberman and Hoody (1998) found that utilizing the environment can improve understanding of mathematical concepts and content, better mastery of math skills, and more enthusiasm for studying math.

  • About the GardenLocated at Homer Pittard Campus School in Murfreesboro, TNA distinct area within a Nature Trail (1km long) surrounding the school building.Garden Details:Dimensions- 8 x 8Edging- Railroad TiesCenter- Tree stump with a sundial on topSubdivided into 4 areas by rectangular bricksVarious herbs planted within the 4 sub-regionsSee diagram on next slide

  • HerbsTreeStump(Sundial)8 feet8 feetBricksRailroad Ties

    HerbsHerbsHerbsHerbsClick to seeSampleHerbs orFull listof Herbs

  • About the GardenUtilized by the Kindergarten classrooms

    Used to studyAnnualsPerennialsHerbsInsectsBeesPollination

  • Sample Lessons from the Herb GardenSundial- Roman Numerals/Time

    Rocks- Art: Hand painted by each child

    Seasonal- Annuals vs. perennials; Changes in leaves; Rocks, insects, bees & pollination

    Cooking- Using herbs to cook various items; following recipes, measurement, etc.

    Writing Stories- Writing about observations and experiences

  • Meeting Math Standards

    Number and Operations: Children use numbers, including written numerals, to represent quantities and to solve quantitative problems, such as counting objects in a set, creating a set with a given number of objects, comparing and ordering sets or numerals by using both cardinal and ordinal meanings, and modeling simple joining and separating situations with objects.Geometry: Children interpret the physical world with geometric ideas.Measurement: Children use measurable attributes, such as length or weight, to solve problems by comparing and ordering objects. (NCTM, 2000, p. 12)

  • Sample Math Activities

    Counting and Sorting Seeds to be plantedCounting number of plants that grew and number of herbs picked in the gardenCounting activities associated with herb biscuit recipe (translating between oral, written, and symbolic) Herb biscuit recipe Common fractions associated with the herb biscuit recipe and in the sub-regions of the garden

  • Sample Math Activities(Continued)

    Roman numerals associated with the sundial

    Comparing and Ordering Calculating the amount of herbs produced by each plantComparing and ordering according to productivitySize of the herbsLength of a leafVolume of the plant

    Exploring and analyzing shapes found in and near the garden

  • Meeting Science Standards

    Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiryUnderstanding about scientific inquiryProperties of objects and materialsPosition and motion of objectsLight, heat, electricity, and magnetismCharacteristics of organismsLife cycles of organismsOrganisms and environments (National Academies Press, 1996, p. 105-106)

  • Sample Science Activities

    Hypothesis TestingWhat herbs/plants will grow the fastest, grow the tallest, grow the fullestWhat area of the garden will be the most productiveHow does exposure to sunlight effect the herbs/plantsTime exposed to sunlightDirect versus indirect sunlight

  • Sample Science Activities(Continued)

    Charting and classifyingLocating herbs/plants in the gardenCharacteristics of organisms in the gardenDifferences and similarities of the herbs/plants

    Exposure to the scientific method.Observations of the seasonsObservations of the life cycles of organisms in the garden

  • References

    Burriss, K.G. & Foulks Boyd B. (Eds.). (2005). Outdoor learning and play: Ages 8-12. Olney, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.Frost, J. L. (2005). Introduction. In K.G. Burriss & B. Foulks-Boyd (Eds.), Outdoor learning and play, ages 8-12. (pp. 9-12). Olney, MD: Association for Childhood Education International. Lieberman, G.A. & Hoody, L. (1998). Closing the achievement gap: Using the environment as an integrating context for learning. San Diego: State Education and Environment Roundtable. National Academies Press (1996). National Science Education Standards.National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA.

  • Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education. - David Polis

  • Sample Herbs found in the Garden

    Rosemary Mint Sage Dill Thyme Parsley BasilClick here to return to previous slide

  • All the Herbs in the Garden

    CatnipGarlic ChivesHyssopLavenderLemon BalmMarjoramMintRosemarySageBasilThymeDillParsley

    Click here to return to previous slide

  • Herb Biscuit Recipe

    PREPARATION:Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray cooking oil on cookie sheet. Using a large dinner fork, stir together self-rising flour, mayonnaise, sage, thyme, garlic, parsley, basil, and milk until combined.Drop dough onto cookie sheet using large serving spoon.Bake in oven for 10 15 minutes.Serve warm.INGREDIENTS:Cooking oil spray 2 cups self-rising flour 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried sage 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme Dash of garlic1/4 teaspoon of parsley1/4 teaspoon of basil1 cup milkClick here to return to previous slide

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