Posts by Alex Aleshire

Learning Pest Control at Ramona

Discovering which bugs are friends of the garden and which bugs can be destructive is best done by observation.  The students at Ramona got to do just that, they walked throughout the garden finding evidence of eaten leaves and fruit and the culprit pests behind it. They made a quick “T” chart to indicate friends…

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S is for Seeds at Sullivan

Teaching preschoolers about the garden is so much fun! During this lesson we learned about seeds, where they come from and how they grow. Most of the students knew seeds grow into plants, but they didn’t know where seeds come from. With the help of a giant sunflower, the children quickly remembered, “Seeds come from…

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Aspire Gateway Discovers the Friends and Foes of the Garden

Discovering all the different insects that call Aspire’s garden their home, is one of the most interesting activities.  That’s why during  today’s class, we looked into all the beneficial insects and the insect foes of the garden. Lady beetles and their larva are very active right now and coincidentally, so are the aphids!  We discovered…

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Sullivan Gets to Know their Garden

My first week at Sullivan Preschool was amazing! The children were excited and super curious about the garden and all the creatures and plants. I introduced them to Leo the Lion (my puppet “friend of the garden” assistant) who gets their attention in a flash!  We have been exploring the area while reinforcing the rules…

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Aspire Firestone Asks “What’s Climate all About?”

Knowing what grows best in your climate is crucial to growing a successful garden. Today the kids from Firestone learned what climate is, what climate we are living in, and how we have basically two growing seasons here in Southern California.  We read the information from several different seed packages to determine whether the seeds…

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Harvest Salad at Aspire Firestone

The kids have been so excited for this day. Not because our session was ending, but because they were going to get to harvest, wash, chop and mix a grand salad.  Kids love to help cook, but just don’t get too many opportunities to do so. With our updated work space and sink, making a…

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Ramona Learns “What Is Dirt?”

The little garden at Ramona has been producing some big harvests which, I’ll have to say, have everything to do with the soil! The students learned that Ramona’s soil is not just any old dirt, it’s full of minerals, has been watered and aerated, and most importantly, has lots of organic matter! The kids enjoyed…

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Digging the Dirt at Woodlawn

One of the most important resources on our planet, hands down, is soil. It is sometimes difficult to give soil the importance it deserves because it’s just dirt, right? And it’s everywhere. Well, this week in the garden we discovered why dirt is so important and that not all dirt is created equal. We also…

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The Value in Alliums at Aspire Gateway

I changed up learning the parts of the plant when I brought in various onions to plant. The kids all had some experience with onions, mostly how they make you cry when you slice them and how strong tasting they are. During class we learned that the actual bulb of the onion is made up…

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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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