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Learning science, math and more in school garden

There's a lot more growing in the garden at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley than plants. The school garden has, for the past two years, been used to grow the knowledge of Nancy Rhodes' fifth-grade students in subjects as diverse as math and art.

The students have also learned lessons on science, engineering, reading and writing, while helping Ms. Rhodes and art teacher Brigid Horgan revitalize the garden at the fourth- to eighth-grade school.

The garden isn't new but the way it is being used is. All the teachers at Corte Madera have been trying to use project-based learning, with academic subjects incorporated into hands-on projects. In Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Horgan's classroom, the garden is part of the project.

The garden hadn't been used much lately and was in need of revitalization. Ms. Horgan, who had helped to get the garden installed in 2003, teamed up with Ms. Rhodes. The two got a grant to put in new plants, soil and an irrigation system, and put their students to work.

Ms. Rhodes garden project is called "A Symbiotic Garden: Designed for a Purpose." Ms. Rhodes hoped to have her students answer the question: Can animals live without plants, and can plants live without animals?" Students designed planting beds that would attract different animals to the garden to help them answer the question.

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As part of the design process they used math skills to figure out the size of garden beds and how much soil would be needed to fill them. They also designed and built a garden workbench.

They are working on a field journal of plants and animals in the garden, using reading and writing, research and observational skills as well as drawing.

In Ms. Horgan's art classes the students are making mosaic stepping stones and mosaic markers for the student-designed and planted garden beds.

Another garden-related project will be to design and build a covered greenhouse.

Parents and other community members have helped out with the project. Alex Von Feldt and Steve Masley helped the students choose what plants to grow and where to find them. Ms. Rhodes' daughter, landscape architect Taya Rhodes Shoup, helped the students with their designs. Ms. Rhodes' husband Lucien has come in to help the children do garden maintenance.

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These are the garden beds designed by the students and a list of the plants, mostly native perennials, in each:

● Butterfly garden: beautiful rockcress, morning glory, Joaquin sunflower, deer brush, California false Indigo bush and American pearly everlasting.

● Bird garden: aster, California poppy, island bush snapdragon, Western blue flax and snowy penstemon.

● Bee garden: wild lupine, cosmos, baby blue eyes, bush anemone and California cone flower.

● Hummingbird garden: white hibiscus, pineapple sage, blue lupine, Chinese houses and fuchsia.

● Fruits and vegetables: carrots, blueberries, tomatoes, artichokes, grapes, sweet onions, raspberries and strawberries.

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Learning science, math and more in school garden

by Barbara Wood / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 9:39 am

There's a lot more growing in the garden at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley than plants. The school garden has, for the past two years, been used to grow the knowledge of Nancy Rhodes' fifth-grade students in subjects as diverse as math and art.

The students have also learned lessons on science, engineering, reading and writing, while helping Ms. Rhodes and art teacher Brigid Horgan revitalize the garden at the fourth- to eighth-grade school.

The garden isn't new but the way it is being used is. All the teachers at Corte Madera have been trying to use project-based learning, with academic subjects incorporated into hands-on projects. In Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Horgan's classroom, the garden is part of the project.

The garden hadn't been used much lately and was in need of revitalization. Ms. Horgan, who had helped to get the garden installed in 2003, teamed up with Ms. Rhodes. The two got a grant to put in new plants, soil and an irrigation system, and put their students to work.

Ms. Rhodes garden project is called "A Symbiotic Garden: Designed for a Purpose." Ms. Rhodes hoped to have her students answer the question: Can animals live without plants, and can plants live without animals?" Students designed planting beds that would attract different animals to the garden to help them answer the question.

As part of the design process they used math skills to figure out the size of garden beds and how much soil would be needed to fill them. They also designed and built a garden workbench.

They are working on a field journal of plants and animals in the garden, using reading and writing, research and observational skills as well as drawing.

In Ms. Horgan's art classes the students are making mosaic stepping stones and mosaic markers for the student-designed and planted garden beds.

Another garden-related project will be to design and build a covered greenhouse.

Parents and other community members have helped out with the project. Alex Von Feldt and Steve Masley helped the students choose what plants to grow and where to find them. Ms. Rhodes' daughter, landscape architect Taya Rhodes Shoup, helped the students with their designs. Ms. Rhodes' husband Lucien has come in to help the children do garden maintenance.

These are the garden beds designed by the students and a list of the plants, mostly native perennials, in each:

● Butterfly garden: beautiful rockcress, morning glory, Joaquin sunflower, deer brush, California false Indigo bush and American pearly everlasting.

● Bird garden: aster, California poppy, island bush snapdragon, Western blue flax and snowy penstemon.

● Bee garden: wild lupine, cosmos, baby blue eyes, bush anemone and California cone flower.

● Hummingbird garden: white hibiscus, pineapple sage, blue lupine, Chinese houses and fuchsia.

● Fruits and vegetables: carrots, blueberries, tomatoes, artichokes, grapes, sweet onions, raspberries and strawberries.

Comments

Chris
Atherton: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:03 am
Chris, Atherton: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:03 am

Oh so cool to read this...one of my children's schools has a garden and the other doesn't...I'm trying to talk them into starting one up. ;) Of course, I'd be the class Garden Dad...

Chris at Cates Garden


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