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Tag Archives: free school field trips for Dallas children

BRING ON THE RED WIGGLERS

“Dear Mrs. Jones, Thank you for the best field trip ever! It was awesome! Thank you for helping us make seed balls.  We had so much fun!!!!!”

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First graders from Lakewood Elementary had a five exclamation point (!!!!!) assessment of their field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

One hundred and fifty pairs of sneakers never stopped from the moment they hopped out of four school buses on November 3rd .  Every 15 minutes, timers took the students to another station: seed balls, real live clucking chickens, wiggly red wigglers, “name that vegetable,” herbs and compost. Elizabeth Wilkinson, Cynthia Jones, and Annette Beadles organized the field trip.

“Dear Raincatcher’s Friends, I love you! I love you! I love pumpkins!” 

Lakewood -pumpkin measuring

Annette compared the circumference of pumpkins—and first grade volunteers.  Cynthia showed students how to roll, mash, divot, and taco-fold clay, soil and wildflowers to make seed balls for their school.

Journal coverDear Garden Friends, Thank you for a great time! I love my journal!

Jan Larson assembled 150 journals and sharpened pencils, one for each child.  They carried their journals all day, making notes at each station.

 

The field trip was even the topic of discussion at a Lakewood hair salon.  Jan was telling her stylist about the field trip, and a young woman in the next seat joined the conversation.  “Are you talking about the field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden?” At Jan’s nod, the mom said she was a chaperone on the field trip and remarked that it was “amazing.” 

With some tears, the Lakewood visitors returned to their classrooms, long-used “temporary” buildings outside an old East Dallas school in need of major repairs.  The forty master gardener volunteers, including DCMG board members, might have kept these thoughts from Rachel Carson in mind:

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla, poster pic by Cynthia

Learn with Lakewood!

Sign up for a field trip!

 

October: Harvest, the Last Hurrah!

At The Raincatcher’s Garden we are offering not only our regular 4 activity station field trips, but also shorter, monthly-themed lessons w/follow-up activities that are based upon connections and the cycles of nature.  We began tracking these patterns with ”September:  Change is Coming” anticipating the turn of the season in the fall garden and planning ahead for spring wildflowers.

 Keeping w/in the monthly theme is “October:  Harvest, the Last Hurrah” in which we introduced our pumpkin unit, Pumpkin Circle, the Story of a Garden by Mary McKenna Siddals & Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons.  The title encapsulates the content of the book perfectly.  By studying life cycles, we learned about the “seed-to-seed” story of a pumpkin, then, related that to the “seed-to-seed” story of the entire garden. 

Pumpkin Class is in Session

Pumpkin Class is in Session

Pumpkins are historically & culturally significant; they were originally domesticated in North America (9000 year-old-seeds have been found in caves in Mexico) and continue to play an important role in holiday celebrations from Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns to our traditional Thanksgiving feasts complete w/pumpkin pies, breads, muffins. 

Children also love pumpkins for their variety of colors and sizes, some of which are so outlandish and unique.  We even created our own “Pumpkin Patch” with specific samples of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. 

Factoid: Did you know there was a website with video of Libby’s canned pumpkin that details how “pie pumpkins” were developed specifically for their 16 oz cans?  Or, that our beloved tradition of carving Jack-o’-Lantern pumpkins comes from an old fable about a mean, stingy man named Jack who, after his death, was doomed to roam the world carrying a carved-out turnip illuminated by glowing coals, hence, the name Jack-of-the-Lantern or Jack-o’-Lantern? 

The most popular of our varieties, hands down, were our gnarly, orangey-green-colored Native American Squash, weighing in at almost 30 pounds, slightly less than the weight of our smallest 3-year-old visitor from The da Vinci School, and the Knuckle Head Pumpkin, a warty orange oval that raised the “Ick Factor” for ugly.  

As part of our study of the Scientific Process we used our carving pumpkins for “Pumpkin Math” – estimating & measuring (number of seeds, circumference, weight, lines/creases), recording data (individual charts for ESD Primer class & volunteers’ results for our 3’s & Pre-K groups), then reporting & analyzing our results.  Using standard & non-standard measurements, we also compared our weight in pumpkins, estimating first, then using our trusty bathroom scale, & guessing our waist measurements, then tape-measuring to compare that to the circumference of the pumpkin. 

Pumpkin Math with Master Gardener Mrs Beadles

Pumpkin Math with Master Gardener, Mrs Beadles

One child reported, “I weigh 4 carving pumpkins (8 lbs each) + a Cinderella Pumpkin + a Fairy Tale Pumpkin!”  Many of our 3-year-old and Pre-K visitors had smaller waists than our sample pumpkins which averaged 24-27 inches.  After all of the slicing and dicing and eviscerating was done, we separated seeds and pumpkin goop.  And, we still had survivors which eventually fell to the carving knife. 

Pumpkin Goop and Pumpkin Carving with EDS kids

Pumpkin Goop and Pumpkin Carving with ESD students

Later, we enjoyed a treat of toasted seeds (pepitas) and Elizabeth’s delicious pumpkin mini muffins.  Our young visitors returned to their respective schools excitedly reporting these facts and more to anyone who would listen.  

Annettte

Pictures by Starla 

More about Pumpkin:

The Power of Pumpkin

Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

 

Grace Academy Field Trip 2015

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Rachel Carson

 

Field trips to The Raincatcher’s Garden are designed to increase that sense of wonder about our natural world. Dallas County Master Gardeners assisted Grace Academy Second Graders as they made their very own journals to write about what they see, feel, and touch in the garden. 

Dallas County Master Gardeners, Nature Journals, and Grace Academy Second Graders

As you know, we spend quality time with worms and learning about vermi-composting!

The Wonder of Worms and how they are known as "Nature's Plough".

Worms are masters of composting. We also teach traditional composting methods.

Lisa, a Master at Composting and Teaching!

Metamorphosis, cocoon to butterfly is studied and the science of  host plants and nectar stations is seen first hand in our butterfly garden.

Grace 2015 Butterflies

Ann

Pictures by Starla

Favorite quote by Cynthia

 

 

First Field Trip at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

West Dallas Community School fifth graders came to our new gardens last week. Composting, Butterflies, Vermiculture, and Herbs were the subjects of the day!

The Wonder of Worms, Nature's Composters in the Palm of Your Hand

The Wonder of Worms, Nature’s Composters in the Palm of Your Hand

How to “host” butterflies in your garden, how to provide nectar sources, these were some of  the topics in butterfly class.

Jane and Judy Teaching West Dallas 5th Graders

Jane and Judy Teaching West Dallas 5th Graders All About Butterflies

“Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms. Rocks need skipping, holes need digging, water needs splashing, and bugs and frogs and slimy stuff need finding.”  *

Linda teaching the science of herbs!

Linda Teaching the Science of Herbs

Our free, garden field trips provide this type of outdoor learning experience.  Science is taught in a hands on, interesting way. For more information about our school field trips, please click here.

West Dallas Community School, we are so glad you are back!

Ann

Pictures by Starla

*Quote  by Go RVing!

 

 

Grace Academy’s Fall Field Trip to the Demonstration Garden

For five years we have enjoyed our relationship with Grace Academy kids.  We see them as first graders in May, they return as second graders in the fall with remarkable growth!

Grace Academy  Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

Grace Academy Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

As Dallas County Master Gardeners, we spend vast amounts of time preparing for these visits and a lot of heart goes into our preparation.   We introduced  them to photosynthesis, seed formation, and plant identification.  Their faces lit up with the wonder of it all.Grace Academy and Michele-plant ID

Cotton is a favorite topic: how to grow it, how it’s used, and how to spin it.  It’s an enthralling topic for all of us. Brush up on your knowledge of cotton here.

Grace Academy kids spinning cotton with Carolyn

The children made self watering containers using recycled water bottles. A Hyacinth Bean seed is planted in each container. It’s important to talk about seeds and the energy they have to create a new plant.

Grace Academy kids making self watering containers

After all, every beginning starts with a seed.

Ann

 

Texas Can Academy Visits The Demonstration Garden

Texas Can Academy visited us Tuesday bringing 39 kids and 3 adults. Instead of the usual field trips to water parks and amusement centers the teachers wanted to build on what they are learning in class about healthy eating and nutrition.  Gardening efforts were already underway at Texas Can Academy with the students planting squash, green beans, peas, and tomatoes. They wanted to learn more about how to set up a “real garden” so a trip to our Demonstration Garden was the perfect next step. 

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

We have had 210 students visiting our gardens since the beginning of April, 2014. Our Field Trips are designed to augment the school’s curriculum.  Annette, our educational director, works with teachers to set up learning centers in our gardens taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made.  She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made. She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

 It’s rewarding to introduce these little children to the joys of gardening.  We like to remind little folks that their t-shirts and jeans are made from the produce of this plant. Note the wonder and surprise in this little girl’s face; a precious moment for us as well. Read more about cotton here.

Excitement in the garden is contagious.  Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Excitement in the garden is contagious. Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Dallas County Master Gardeners spend a good deal of time and energy with compost! Grass clippings, brown leaves, and vegetable and fruit scraps create the fertilizer for our gardens which eventually feeds us.  We hope to inspire a whole new generation of future composters.

Good compost smells good!

Good compost smells good!

Improve your compost skills by reading Cindy’s Compost tips and you will see why we call her “the compassionate composter”.  For more field trip information click on this link.  Plan your fall visit now.

Thank you Texas Can Academy for visiting us, we will see you again in the fall!

Ann and Annette

Pictures by Starla

Spring Field Trips, West Dallas Community School Returns To The Demonstration Garden

 At The Demonstration Garden we have enjoyed having West Dallas Community School 4th and 5th graders come to our garden.   The students at  have a nature studies class and come to our garden well prepared. 

They experience nature on a daily basis with their very own garden at school and by coming to our garden on field trips.  These students are tasting fava beans for the first time.  Notice the smiles on their faces and carrot and rosemary in the pocket.Fifth Graders From West Dallas Community School and Dallas County Master Gardener, Abbe in background

These boys are looking  carefully for ladybugs on the roses.

West Dallas Community School Boys Visiting The Demonstration Garden

We are happy to have children come to our garden and they are happy!

West Dallas Community School Spring 2013 At The Demonstration Garden

A WIN/WIN SITUATION FOR EVERYONE!

Ann

Pictures by Starla

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