Posts by Alex Aleshire

Water Cycle Lesson at Woodlawn

I had a special request from the 3rd grade teacher to introduce the water cycle during garden class at Woodlawn. We began with some interesting facts about water. We discussed how every living thing on Earth needs water to survive. Fortunately, Mother Nature’s got a pretty smart way of recycling water – the water cycle!…

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Woodlawn’s Kinder Students Look for Insects

Today was the first time kindergarten has participated in garden classes at Woodlawn.  I thought learning about how the garden is a home to many insects, would be a fun way to begin their first garden experience! After listing all the various insects we might find in the garden, and learning what to do if…

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Weird Water Science at Aspire!

Teaching on Halloween meant there would be lots of excitement and energy during class, so I decided we would do a fun, very weird, and somewhat FREAKY water pressure experiment!  I explained that our garden is watered by a drip irrigation system that is controlled by a timer. The timer functions based on the amount…

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20th Street Learns about Bees

Bees can be a bit scary to little kids, especially when working around them in the garden.  It helps to know why they are important and what to do if they make you feel uncomfortable.  In this lesson TK and Kindergarten learned all about bees! A pretend bee and hive helped me demonstrate what to…

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Woodlawn Breaks down Photosynthesis!

Photosynthesis is a big topic to cover! Even the word needs some explaining; Photo means “light”, synthesis means “to put together”.  Making sense of this process required some small steps, so we began by breaking it down! During this lesson we discovered just how leaves absorb the sun’s light energy through chlorophyll, a green substance in…

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Aspire Talks About Seeds

Today was the last day of the rotation with 5th grade and since they have been so excited about the developing seedlings they planted a couple of weeks ago, I thought we would explore the topic of seeds more deeply. We looked at various types of seeds and talked about the sometimes extreme measures some…

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The Birds and Bees at Woodlawn Elementary School

I love emergent curriculum! When the interests and curiosity of students sway the day’s lesson, I go with it!  Today what started as a Friends or Foes lesson, quickly developed into a pollination lesson when I mentioned how bees fly into male flowers, then into female flowers, depositing pollen and fertilizing developing fruit. It turned…

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All About the Green June Beetle at Aspire Gateway Academy

Green June beetles are still doing flybys throughout the school yard and garden, causing lots of ruckus among the kids and even some teachers! One student asked why there are so many around, which prompted a lesson on the life cycle of the beetle. We searched the garden soil for the larva stage of the…

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Welcome Back at Woodlawn!

The Woodlawn Elementary School garden is flourishing!  The beds are full and overflowing with flowers, fruits, and vegetables!  It was a pleasure to come back to this great school and garden and find it so lush and filled with life! I saw many familiar faces in this first rotation so I’m looking forward to building…

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Discovering the Garden at Aspire!

A new school garden is always a lovely thing, especially when it is embraced by the community of students, staff and volunteers.  Aspire Gateway Academy has done just that and more!  Teachers, staff members and students are always looking around the garden beds to see what is growing. It’s a pleasure to see their excitement…

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Lovely Last Day at Woodlawn!

The garden at Woodawn is exploding with growth! The cucumbers are coming in along with tomatoes, beans, basil and squash! And check out the size of this monster sunflower!!! For the last day,  I brought in my food processor and a can of garbanzo beans to whipped up some hummus.  The kids have never tried hummus,…

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Up Close and Personal With Our Worms ~ Woodlawn

It’s one thing to learn about a worm’s environment (the things they need to thrive and reproduce), and yet another to get “up close and personal” and learn the anatomy of a worm.  That’s just what we did with the Woodlawn student! Examining a worm on a magnifying glass really gave us the ability to…

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Whaley – Getting Down in the DIRT!

At Whaley, we continued talking about the importance of top soil by understanding not only that we have so little (3%), but how the different types of soil degradation contribute to the rate of soil loss per year.  To get the kids to really understand, we started by examining different types of soil (sand, clay,…

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Ecology in a Worm Bin – Whaley

Worm bins are a great way to review all we have learned about ecology throughout the year. The students can physically determine what abiotic and biotic factors effect the worm’s environment.  They can also reference the bin as a mini ecosystem filled with a community, population, species, and organisms…lots of organisms! Although the worms are the…

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Surprise! Seeds Have Germinated!

I was excited to find out that the seeds the 2nd grade planted last week in the newspaper cup, have sprouted! I asked the kids if they remembered what the seed packet indicated under days for germination. Eight to ten days is the typical rate for snap peas to sprout. Their seeds sprouted on Tuesday;…

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Ecosystem in a Worm Bin! ~ Woodlawn

Caring for a worm bin takes special attention and the Woodlawn students and staff have demonstrated they are up for the challenge! I first began the lesson by explaining that all creatures have certain needs that must be met for them to grow and reproduce.  The worm we use in a worm bin is called…

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Minty Day at Whaley

The last day before summer break required a special activity and since our mint plant needed a good trimming, I thought we could use the trimmings to make some yummy treats!  Mint has so many great uses. It helps with upset stomachs, helps loosen phlegm, and freshens breath too! During class we made a tomato…

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Garden Pizzas at Whaley!

The garden at Whaley was in need of a good harvest and although the kids really enjoy salads, I thought we’d try cooking some of the bounty of veggies instead! The kids were all onboard, and went straight to work! I brought in a toaster oven, some tortillas, tomato sauce and cheese.  The kids harvested,…

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Planting Perennial Strawberries at Woodlawn

It was an out with the “old” and in with the “new” day at Woodlawn!  I explained to the students that we would be removing the cool season vegetable plants that had bolted, (gone to seed) and replace them with perennial strawberry plants.  We discussed the differences between perennial plants and annual plants and looked…

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The Making of Edible Cells at Whaley

Most cells are not “delicious” but the ones the Whaley students made today were quite tasty! In an effort to have the students understand the different functions of the cell parts, we made an edible model of a cell…then ate it! To begin, we watched a short video about cell parts and their function.  I…

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New Rotation, New Friends – Woodlawn

I’m excited this new garden rotation includes 3rd and 4th grades!  This group knows a lot about earth science so I’m looking forward to introducing them to some new challenging yet fun garden curriculum. During the first session, we got to investigate the garden by using our senses. The kids touched plant leaves and stems…

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Whaley Identifies Plant Cells

The 7th graders at Whaley haven’t had much experience using microscopes, so we brought them out this week to familiarize ourselves with them and look at plant cells.  After the students collected various types of plant leaves from the garden, we came indoors and followed the procedures to get the slide ready for viewing. The…

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Learning about Xylem and Phloem at Woodlawn

This new rotation is all about getting to know plants, inside and out!  So since we needed to pull out some plants that had bolted, we decided to cut them open and observe and label what we discovered! After labeling the parts of a plant, we discovered that some plants had tap roots and others…

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Building a Good Composting System

After talking about microorganisms that function in anaerobic conditions, I wanted to teach the kids how we could build a composting system that, when given the right conditions, would thrive!  The ingredients that get placed into a composting system are just as important as knowing about the decomposing organisms that live, reproduce and flourish in…

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Fermentation, It’s What Chocolate is all about!

The kids at Fleming are all about discovering how food works in our world, and what better way to open up some discussion than to to talk about Chocolate!  What I really wanted to emphasis was what gives chocolate it’s great flavor.  Most kids didn’t realize how big a role “fermentation” has in giving cocoa…

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Carrot Harvest at Woodlawn!

Pulling a carrot from the garden, wiping off a little dirt, and biting into it, is an experience everyone should have! We’ve had carrots growing at Woodlawn for couple of months now and the kids have been very excited to watch them develop. Carrots are some of the most popular vegetables to grow and because…

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Whaley Discovers DNA!

The students were studying DNA this week in class, so I thought it would be appropriate to show them what DNA looks like and the process for DNA extraction. They were surprised to discover that DNA can be extracted with some simple household ingredients and that at home they can follow the same recipe and…

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What We Know About Seeds at Woodlawn

I started the class today by asking the kids what they know about seeds.  There were many great responses such as, ” Seed are the beginning of a plant.” and “Water, soil and sun make seeds grow.”  I asked the kids if they knew where seeds come from and we talked about how seed are…

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Vegetables Need “Support” Too!

We are back from spring break and preparing for summer at Whaley. The first set of cucumbers and pole beans were seed started two weeks ago and now are in need of a good support system to keep them vertical.  We briefly discussed why some plants need support and why it’s important to keep fruit…

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Irrigation Lesson at Woodlawn

Today, with the help of Ranger Hope, we began to convert the irrigation from sprinklers, to drip.  Now that the watering issue is almost solved, this garden’s soil flora should improve significantly and the garden will be ready to withstand the summer weather! The students came out to observe and asked questions about the differences…

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Snails Under Observation at Foster!

I subbed for Hope at Foster Elementary this Wednesday and I thought I would bring in something fun, interesting and a bit slimy, that the kids could observe…snails! Although snails are not a gardener’s friend, I discovered they are still very interesting creatures. I read the kids some facts about snails before we brought them…

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Direct Sowing at Whaley

With the garden cleaned out and plenty of open spaces, I had the students “direct sow” some summer fruit seeds.  I explained to the kids why we sometimes opt for starting seeds in trays verses starting seeds inground (direct sowing).  Some seeds grow best when started indoors in controlled temperatures, so we grow them in…

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Big Planting Day at Woodlawn!

Being that our beds at Woodlawn are still fairly new, we had a lot of things to do to prep it for new plants. First, we amended the soil, which builds the structure to accommodate root development; increases the amount of happy organisms; and gives life via nutrients to the plants which the kids will…

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Clipping, Amending and Clean-Up at Whaley

We spent the day doing various garden tasks in the garden today as the kids really needed the break from a full day of testing. Together, we clipped back the borage and basil bushes, amended the soil and picked up trash, leaving the garden pristine! The kids nibbled on borage and chard as they worked.…

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What’s in Our Compost? at Whaley

What’s in our compost? That’s what the kids at Whaley discovered when we uncovered the composting bin and exposed the contents…let just say, it was ALIVE!  We found dark, nutrient rich “humus”  towards the base of the bin.  It was literally moving, due to the various invertebrates living inside.  We spent some time observing these…

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Spreading the Word at Fleming!

Now that the students have learned to compost, I thought, “Hey! They can teach others about composting!”  So today the kids began a poster project where they will “spread the word” to other students and faculty about how to properly add ingredients to the composting bin. In class, we did a quick review on composting…

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Biotic and Abiotic Factors – Whaley

To understand how systems work in our world, the 6th and 7th graders and I discussed Biotic and Abiotic factors.  We defined biotic factors as living factors that affect other living organisms. Abiotic factors are those that are not living but also can affect other living organisms.  The power point I presented had some good…

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Getting To Know Each Other in The Garden at Whaley

I’m excited to say, I had a great first day teaching at the wonderful little garden in Whaley Middle school.  Garden Ranger Christina did an excellent job nurturing the soil, plants and even more so, the people here at the school.  Everyone I’ve met is very welcoming and I’m happy to be their new Ranger.…

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The Reason For A Flower ~ Woodlawn

Today the kids at Woodlawn learned that the purpose of any plant is to simply make more of itself, to reproduce.  We started the lesson by reading  “The Reason For  a Flower” by Ruth Heller.  The book describes all the parts of plants and their functions in beautifully illustrated pages. The 2nd graders brought their…

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Woodlawn- A Garden for all Ages and all Abilities

In this new 6 week rotation at Woodlawn I have two 2nd grade classes and a group of K through 3rd grade special needs students.  They were so excited to get their hands in the dirt that the first thing we did was just go out and explore! One of the things I love the…

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Plants RESPOND at Woodlawn!

Plants can’t run, swim, or jump away from danger like animals and people can but they do respond to certain changes or STIMULI in their environment.  In garden class we explored the different stimuli that trigger resposes in plants which help them grow healthy, strong and protected. We sometimes take for granted the things we…

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Learning about Legumes

We had a planting day at the Woodlawn garden and filled a couple of beds with winter greens, flowers and onion transplants. It’s starting to look like a garden again!   During class with 5th grade, we talked in length about amazing legume plants.  I reminded the kids that most legume plants have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in…

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Woodlawn Elementary, Digging Deeper

Sometimes it’s difficult to dig deeper into a subject due to lack of time. The kids at Woodlawn are fascinated with the world of worms, so we are sticking with the subject to learn the many ways worms help our world grow. Kindergarten really enjoyed the book on worms, “Wiggling Worms at Work” by Wendy…

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Wonderful Worms at Woodlawn

It was pouring down rain at Woodlawn and since the kids have been cooped up for a couple of days due to the rainy day schedule, I thought I would bring some garden friends to them.  Worms are a farmers favorite garden friend (well, for sure mine!).  I am always amazed at how truly beneficial…

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Woodlawn Has Sprouted!

Although the irrigation system is not yet up and running, the dedicated students and staff at Woodlawn have been hand watering the seeds we planted.  When we met on Thursday, the class was thrilled to tell me “They sprouted Mrs. Alex!!” As we walked through the garden to make observations, we discussed if the information…

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