Posts by Alex Aleshire

Humming Bird Visit at Aspire!

  An unfortunate accident for a hummingbird turned into a once in a lifetime event for the Aspire students! I found a hummingbird with an injured wing the evening before and while I was arranging where to take the little guy, I discovered they needed to eat a few times every hour! So, I took…

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Herbalicious Last Day at Woodlawn!

Our last day’s harvest was so bountiful, that we made a delicious, fresh snack to end the year… Ah bruschetta!!  This classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh herbs like basil, oregano and chives and of course garlic!  Kindergarten and 1st grade were so excited to…

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Aspire Digs Into the World of the Roly-Poly!

Most kids know a lot about roly-poly’s; they’re cute, they roll up when they get scared and they don’t bite.  I wanted the kids to “dig a little deeper” into the world of a roly-poly, but first I gave the kids a little information about these bugs starting with their true name; pill bugs! So…

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Holy Moly! Roly Polys at Woodlawn!

Most of us have held a Roly-poly before…that gentle little garden creature that rolls up into a ball when disturbed or scared. It’s an easy creature to like; they don’t bite, they tickle your hand when they crawl on you and they can protect themselves! Today in the garden, Kinder and 1st grade learned more…

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A Snail’s Trails at Aspire

I brought a little bit of the garden into the classroom on this rainy day. Fortunately, the rain and cloudy weather made it easy to find snails and slugs in the garden. In the classroom, I told the kindergarteners  that I brought with me a garden creature for them to observe.  We talked about the…

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Growing Fruit at Woodlawn

  The Woodlawn garden is in full production mode!  We have been harvesting lots of lettuce, Swiss chard, and collard greens in the past few weeks.  Just recently, the warmer temperatures have given our fruit-bearing plants the boost they needed!  Kindergarten and 1st grade searched the garden for fruit that was ready to harvest. We…

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Chop Chop Salad at Woodlawn

Using a knife is a hard tool to master, especially when your 6 years old!  The kids at Woodlawn got lots of practice today by helping to chop up a yummy salad! To begin we discuss harvesting and what would happen if we harvested a fruit or vegetable that was not ready to pick.  Then…

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Woodlawn Kids Start Seeds

The kindergarten and 1st grade students at Woodlawn have shown great attention to the garden. They have helped with many garden taskes including leaf clean up, pill bug relocation and composting.  So I knew they could handle the care needed to start seeds and keep them moist and warm. During discussion time, we talked about…

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The Bee Dance at Aspire

When kids get a little spooked about bees in the garden, I think it’s important to give them some information on what exactly a bee does. I thought for this lesson I would bring in my bee suit (yep… bee suit!) and show the kids how important it is not to run, yell and wave hands…

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Let’s Talk Strawberries at Aspire!

The long awaited strawberry season has arrived, giving Aspire students a sweet experience! We talked about all the prep work that was involved in producing these wonderful garden treats; early planting, removing early flowers to develop the roots and amending the soil. Removing pill bugs and sow bugs from the strawberry garden bed and putting…

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Red Wrigglers Get A Start at Woodlawn

I left the best for last for this rotation at Wodlawn…WORMS! But not just any worm…red wrigglers, the amazing composting worms.  We learned all about these creatures, and why they are used for recycling kitchen scraps….red wiggler worms can eat about half of their weight in food every day! WOW! We got a chance to…

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Cooking Up a Storm at Aspire!

We are still harvesting great big beautiful eggplant at the Aspire garden. The students have been so interested to find out what something so lovely could possibly taste like. I explained that eggplant is delicious when roasted and sprinkled with fresh herbs. Luckily, the cafeteria is super close to the garden, and I was able…

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There is a Fungus Among Us ~ Woodlawn

Have I told you about my 4th and 5th grade students at Woodlawn?  Well, they are an exceptional group of kids with such inquisitive minds. So much so, that for the past few sessions, we have explored the world of FUNGI  and the questions keep coming! (I’ve had to really do my research…these kids keep…

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Pesky Little Pill Bugs at Aspire

The Aspire students have been super interested in pill bugs lately.  These little guys are everywhere and in great numbers which can be hard on a garden. Although they eat mostly dead, organic debris, they can also nibble on ripening strawberries and germinating seeds.   We made observations after pulling out a dead plant and…

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“F” is for Fungus ~ Woodlawn

Composting with the F.B.I is a great lesson for teaching kids how organic material decomposes. This week, the students at Woodlawn got “close up and personal” with the “F”…fungus! When food items like strawberries or bread sit around for too long, they start to grow a fuzzy white or green mold. This is the work…

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Bug Patrol at Woodlawn

Gardening the organic way requriers many helpful hands especially when the pests out number us 200 million to one! Thank goodness those pests are not all at the Woodlawn garden, although sometimes it feels as if they are!!! We have seen an abundance of aphids… handfuls of rollie pollies and sow bugs… inch worms and…

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Getting to Know a Seed at Aspire

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have very similar traits.  Seeds have a way of protecting themselves from bacteria and the elements until the perfect conditions occure to bring them out of dormancy.  Today we learned that for most seeds, contact with water, begins germination. We compared dormant seeds to soaked…

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The Smallest of Creatures ~ Aspire

  During the last few classes, we have been discussing what decomposition is and how the process starts, beginning with the tiniest of tiny organisms… microorganisms! “Smaller than this?!” Yes! So small, we need a microscope to see them! And these tiny creatures are on EVERYTHING! Our hands, eyes, inside our stomach, on our desks,…

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Compost Tuesday at Aspire

The Aspire garden received a donated compost bin and the students have been very interested in learning to make great compost for our garden! Making compost is like following a recipe… kind of like a salad! Step 1: Collect a bucket of  50% Green materials (unedible green leaves, apple cores, scraps of fruit and vegetables,…

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Snap Peas in a SNAP!~Woodlawn

It sure seemed like growing these peas took a “snap” since most of the  pea pods developed while on the winter break.  On our first day back, the students counted the pods that were loaded on the plant’s climbing tendrils.  They found over seventy crisp pea pods ready to be picked and eaten! We also…

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Last of Our Summer Crops at Aspire!

It’s hard to believe the Aspire Garden still has summer tomatoes, squash and eggplant growing!  I explained to the students that these types of fruit producing plants require a lot of energy to produce the fruit they bare AND to help the plant stay healthy and strong.  “Where does the energy come from?”, I asked…”The…

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Snap Peas have Needs Too!

Learning how to start seeds begins with understanding that every living thing on Earth, has different needs to help it grow healthy and strong.  Seeds of various plants have different needs too!  In our lesson, we discussed the differences and similarities of sowing various seeds including a common general rule; “Seeds wait to germinate until…

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Seed Development at Aspire Gateway

The garden at Aspire is bursting with all kinds of examples of seed development. We started off our lesson with a search for different plants producing seeds. We found marigolds in different stages of development. The students found ripening tomato fruits with seeds inside. “Where are the seeds of the lettuce plant Mrs. Alex??”.  …

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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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