Posts by Alex Aleshire

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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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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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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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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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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Pass the Seed, Please

A new rotation at Woodlawn garden brought many eager children ready to dig in the dirt.  After a quick discussion about the rules of the garden, we talked about seeds and their various shapes and sizes.  Playing “Pass the Seed, Please” gives everyone a chance to see and feel each seed, and learn about seeds…

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Top Soil…It’s Important! Plus Woodlawn Update

The Woodlawn Garden renovation has come a long way in a short time. The crew worked quickly and efficiently to create a functional and beautiful space for the students, staff and community to enjoy.  The next task is new drip irrigation and planting…I can’t wait!!! With only soil in the beds, I thought a good…

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Garden Planning at Woodlawn

Lots of progress is being done at the Woodlawn Garden.  New concrete pathways were installed, old woody bushes were removed and the grass area was tilled and readied for the new sod. Planning a garden takes a lot of work and preparation. Saturday, the raised beds will be built, irrigation will be run to each…

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Change Can Be a Good Thing

Last week I was informed that the Woodlawn garden would be going through a huge renovation.  By that I mean, all garden beds, plants, pathways, grass, and even some trees, would be removed.  Construction was to begin the following week and completion of the project was scheduled for the end of November. Wow!  I have…

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The Guessing Game

When I met my younger students in the Woodlawn garden with this colorful wrapped box, they couldn’t wait to get started!  We played a simple game of guessing what vegetable or fruit was inside the guessing box.  First, I gave each child a flash card telling them that during the game, they would be whatever…

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Little Plant Detectives at Woodlawn

During garden class, the younger grades imagined they were plant detectives while learning how to describe what they know about plants. We discussed all the elements that make up a plant and asked some difficult question like,”Is a tree a plant?”.  The kids all agreed that all plants have roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds.…

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A Lesson in Similarities and Opposites

A new rotation brought some new smiling faces to the garden today!  Transitional kindergarten and first grade learned the rules of the garden.  Many of the garden’s rules are similar to those in the classroom.  We talked about how the garden is like an outdoor classroom and as the children walked around we pointed out…

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Water is Life

Water is so important for health, growth and life of all living things!  I wanted the kids to remember to continue to conserve this precious natural resource in their everyday lives.  We discussed the importance of water for the growth of our garden and also for all the farms that produce the food we eat.…

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To Eat or Not To Eat? That is the Question

What a day of discovery and observation at Woodlawn elementary as we posed the question: Is it edible or not edible? The first graders took a stroll around the garden while we talked about the  things we can eat and the things we cannot eat in the garden. They had so many questions!  And I…

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A Look Inside a SEED at Woodlawn

I was impressed to see how much the children at Woodlawn elementary knew about how seeds grow!  So during this week’s lesson, we focused on the parts of a seed.  I was happy to see that the pea seeds the kids had planted last week had sprouted.  These sprouts were a great learning tool.  We…

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Discovering Leaves, Roots and their Functions

This is the third week of the six week rotation at Woodlawn and we are diving into some bigger topics…leaves! They are all around us in Woodlawn’s cozy little garden so the younger kids went on a leaf hunt for “broad” leaves and “needle” leaves. We discovered that their garden has many more broad leaves…

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Last of Summer Harvest at Woodlawn

Even though the summer growing season is dying down, there’s still a lot happening in the Woodlawn Elementary Garden! The kids picked the last red tomato off the vine and harvested swiss chard for a quick chopped salad dressed with lemon and salt, yum! We pulled out that old tomato plant but decided the Swiss…

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A Sweet Day At Woodlawn Elementary

It sure was a sweet first day for garden class at Woodlawn!  The kids enjoyed exploring the garden and discovering fruits, veggies and herbs that they recognized, and some they weren’t too familiar with.  Everyone recognized the mint, “Yerba buena” which is growing beautifully in the garden.  None of the kids knew about the stevia…

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