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Tag Archives: School Gardens in Dallas

Lakewood Elementary School Returns!

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. – Thomas Berry

The Raincatcher’s Garden hosted 156 children and 10 teachers and aides from Lakewood Elementary School this week as they learned about vegetables you can grow in your own garden, vermicomposting and the life cycle of worms, pumpkin math, city chickens, compost and gardening to attract butterflies. 

lakewood-sheridanStudents were led to each garden station by happy Master Gardener volunteers like this one!

lakewood-color-wheel

Exploring the garden with all senses is encouraged.

lakewood-vermiculture

And just think if you can hold a red wriggler worm in your hand, the science of vermicomposting may become more interesting.lakewood-field-trip-mg

This is only a fraction of the army of Master Gardeners who helped with the field trip.  Great Job by our Master Gardener Education committee!

Pictures and observations by Starla

 

 

Tomorrow at Whole Foods Market, Preston-Forest

Wednesday, September 14,  9am to 9pm

5% COMMUNITY GIVING DAY, WHOLE FOODS MARKET PRESTON-FOREST

YOUR PURCHASES HELP OUR NEW GARDEN GROW

Visit with Dallas County Master Gardeners at Whole Foods Market Preston-Forest on September 14 and fill your grocery cart. The store will give 5% of the day’s net sales to The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, 11001 Midway. This helps us maintain our beautiful gardens and provide garden education for all ages.  This fall we have many school children visiting our garden for educational school field trips.  Hands-on-learning to expand math, science and social studies learning opportunities will be offered.

Above: Fall 2015 Field Trip, More to Come in 2016!

Above: Fall 2015 Field Trip, More to Come in 2016!

 

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

 

School Days, Time to Schedule 2015 Field Trips!

Welcome to the RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

A One-acre Garden Designed for Students to Learn about Nature

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher's Garden

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher’s Garden

In Our Garden Classroom:

Hold a Chicken

Smell an Herb

Find a Caterpillar

Plant a Seed

Taste a Vegetable Warm from the Sun

Feed a Compost Pile

Students are taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners, Gardening Experts with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension using Junior Master Gardener ® Curriculum aligned with Texas standardized testing.

 

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

 

Schedule a Free Field Trip by contacting dallasgardenbuzz@gmail.com or clicking on the School Field Trip Request Form.

 

Location:  THE RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

11001 Midway Road, Dallas (between Forest & Royal Lanes)

 

 We’ll leave the Garden Gate Open for You

 More information about our Free School Field Trips: page one, page two

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

West Dallas Community School Third Graders In The Garden

The 28 third graders who came to our garden Tuesday did not need much coaching in appreciating nature.

WDCS Third Graders Harvest A Carrot The loved the carrots and took them back to school for afternoon snacks.. Rosemary was another hit. Last week one of the kids  said he would sleep with Rosemary under his pillow. Maybe  there  will be alot of Rosemary under pillows this week!

WDCS Children PIcking Rosemary

It was a day of garden based education:  learning  the science of compost, how to attract wildlife to the garden, growing vegetables like beans, carrots, lettuce, and swiss chard; and how flowers  regenerate by seed.  Third Graders At The Demonstration Garden From West Dallas Community School

Class dismissed!

Ann

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