Posts by Eleanor Goodrich

“How Do Flowers Make Seeds?” at 6th Ave

Last week, we learned that plants use their flowers to make seeds, but now our students are curious, “how does a flower make a seed?” To answer that question we went straight to the flower and started investigating. Every student got a nasturtium flower which they dissected until they could see yellow pollen on their…

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Life Cycles at Weemes

Everything has to eat. Students at Weemes took time to examine exactly what that statement means as we talked about food chains and students explored the place some of our garden creatures occupy on the food chain. Roly-polies eat our tomatoes and strawberries, but birds eat roly-polies and then insects eat the bird after it…

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Fun with Directions at Weemes

In class today we talked about all the ways instructions can be useful. Students brainstormed lots of different new skills they would like to learn how to do. Everything from skateboarding tricks, growing different plants and doing handstands. We discussed how you can find written instructions to help learn how to do almost anything! Then…

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Plant Uses at 6th Ave

Students at 6th Ave took time to reflect on all the ways we use plants this week. We discussed how most of our food, housing, clothes and medicine come from plants. The conversation about plants helped us to visualize world systems and our interdependence on plant life and ecosystems.  Then, we explored the garden to…

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Never Judge A Peanut by It’s Shell at Hollenbeck

In our creative writing class this week, we talked about how people often judge each other and other things by outside appearances. To illustrate this, students described the outward appearance of a peanut and contrasted that with the taste of the peanut inside. After we all munched on our peanuts, we discussed how useless it…

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What’s in a Peanut? at Mid City Prescott

George Washington Carver was intrigued with the homely peanut, and he managed to discover hundreds  of inventions. In our own garden, our classes discussed the misleading appearance of a peanut and how the dry, dirty shell houses a wonderful, tasty snack. After our discussion, students explored the garden brainstorming new uses for all the plants…

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What a Honeybee Knows at Weemes

Since the students have been studying pollination at Weemes, we took the time this week to learn more about our special pollinator friends, the honeybees. We talked about the complex hive democracy that honeybees use and how they work together to find nectar and make honey. Since honey bees can’t talk, they communicate with a…

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Flower Dissections at Mid-City

The students have been asking where seeds come from and how they are made, so this week we went investigating! I helped point our classes in the right direction, but telling them that flowers make seeds, but they had to figure out how that happened. Each student got a flower and we dissected it to…

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What’s in a seed at Hollenbeck Middle

As the seasons change, we are starting a lot of new seeds, so this week we took some time to understand exactly how a seed starts growing. Our classes grew sprouts in the classroom and observed the process. Then, when we gathered in the garden, we dissected a few seeds to see the tiny embryo…

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Welcoming Spring at Weemes Elementary

The Kindergarten classes at Weemes are studying the four seasons, so to celebrate the first day of Spring we talked about the different plants that grow in each season. While our broccoli and cauliflower plants are nearing the end of their growing season, an exciting new fruit has started bearing- strawberries! So our snack that…

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The Power of Words at Hollenbeck Middle School

The sixth graders at Hollenbeck Middle School are starting to study argumentative essays, so for their first writing assignment, they came to the garden for inspiration. The garden at Hollenbeck is especially green from the rainy season and all our fruit trees offer peaceful shade to write under. While we were in the garden, each…

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Pollination at Weemes Elementary

The flowers are in full bloom at Weemes this spring and they gave us a perfect chance to talk about pollination. Our classes discussed the honey bees that have been visiting our sunflowers and Nasturtiums and we learned the importance of pollen for making new seeds. While we explored the garden, students were able to…

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Garden Poets at Mid-City Prescott

One fun way to talk about syllables is by studying haikus. Haikus are poems with a set number of syllables for each line.  For today’s garden activity we reviewed syllables and read a few examples of haikus. Some are thoughtful and some are silly, but they are all only three lines long. At first students thought…

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How Do Seeds Grow? at Weemes

We have grown a lot of seeds at Weemes Elementary this past year and it’s always exciting to see the new plants pop out of the ground a few weeks later. But after awhile, we couldn’t help but wonder, “what’s going on underground before our little seedlings appear?” So this past week, each class took…

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Plant Anatomy at Weemes

Elementary students across Los Angeles have to memorize the various parts of a plant each year. At Weemes, instead of learning from pictures in books, we get to study living plants while outside in our garden! After reviewing each part and it’s role, we played a scavenger hunt type game and everyone found examples of…

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Cultivating New Skills at Weemes

As a child it can be hard to feel like you can contribute to the world. We often tell children they aren’t big enough or they don’t know enough. Students with special needs are especially limited in how they can contribute. One benefit of the school garden is that it gives young people a chance…

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Searching for Seeds at Sixth Ave

“Where do seeds come from?” This is the question of one student a few weeks ago that we set out to answer. We started by talking about seeds we know about, for example, apple seeds come from apples, watermelon seeds come from watermelons. Based on our past experiences we were able to conclude that a…

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Dancing for Pollen at Sixth Ave

Since the worms and bugs have been such a hit in the garden at 6th Ave, we spent this week talking about honey bees. We learned that honey bees use nectar from flowers to make honey and while they are busy gathering nectar, they help the flowers by spreading pollen. The students then got an…

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Using All Five Senses at Weemes

Our preschoolers LOVE exploring the garden, so they were incredibly excited when the garden lesson this week was almost exclusively exploration time. We discussed each of the five senses and students explored the garden 5 different times, each time focusing on a different sense. By the time we got to taste, class was almost over,…

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Everything Changes at Weemes Elementary

When we harvested the purple cauliflower for our snack, we discovered a hitchhiker: a small garden caterpillar was hiding in the leaves! The students are always excited to see any kind of bug, but this time the excitement turned into a perfect learning opportunity since their teacher has plans to keep the caterpillar in a…

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New Settlers at Hollenbeck

Our special education class is studying different types of settlers and what they had to do once they arrived at a new home. In the classroom, they have used garden items (such as small rocks and twigs) to build miniature cabins. In the garden, we discussed what jobs we would need to do to prepare…

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The Feudal System at Hollenbeck

Students in Ms. Smith’s classes at Hollenbeck have been studying the feudal systems of Medieval Europe and Japan, so when they came to the garden, we played a game. Everyone drew a role out of a hat (either peasants or knights). Peasants had to harvest garden fruit and prepare a dessert for our winter feast…

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Digging into Literature at Mid-City

Students at Mid-City have been reading Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. In the book, the main character Karana belongs to a Native American tribe who get most of their food by digging roots and fishing. In the garden, we discussed what it would be like to gather all your food from the environment,…

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First Things First at Mid-City

The winter rains have made the garden a little wet , but they’ve also given us a lot of vegetables to harvest and eat! Since the garden was a little damp the other day, we moved garden class indoors after exploration time. We brought the garden inside with us by bringing lots of broccoli and…

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New Beds at 6th Ave!

Playworks donated garden beds to our garden at 6th Ave, so we’ve taken a few weeks to fill them with rich soil and extended our irrigation so now we can have a pollinator garden of flowers bordering our learning garden! Our students were integral in the entire process of setting up these beds. Since our…

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Plant Anatomy at 6th Ave

Although we see the plants every day in the garden, today we took time to take a closer look. Each class broke down plants into 6 parts and then worked in small groups to look at each part and share why a plant would need each part. When we returned to the large group to…

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Personification at Hollenbeck

Since all 6th graders are taking Creative Writing this year, they all get to come to garden class all year. This week we discussed personification and everyone wrote a story about one of the bugs or garden plants. After taking a little time to explore and brainstorm, our students created some hilarious characters, including a…

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Hello Garden! at Weemes Elementary

We have a new group of classes coming to the garden at Weemes elementary and this week was an exciting time for garden introductions. After talking about plant needs and how to take care of our garden, the class was excited to take time picking up trash and weeding so our plants can grow even…

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Kreative Kale at Mid-City Prescotts

The smoke from the fires earlier this year forced us inside during garden class. Luckily, our kale plants are ready to harvest and the move inside gave us a chance to talk about recipes and make a quick recipe. Our classes brainstormed what sort of snack they would make with kale and created their own…

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Gentle Exploring at 6th Ave Elementary

The pre-schoolers at 6th Avenue are coming to the garden for the first time! Its always fun to introduce a new group of children to the amazing plants and insects that share our school yard and this class was especially excited to dig in. We spent a lot of our first class in free exploration;…

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Adaptation and Breeding at Hollenbeck

Following up our last lesson on biodiversity, our 7th graders got a chance to see examples of adaptation and the origins of biodiversity in the garden this week. We discussed how all vegetables have been breed, and compared selective breeding with natural selection in wild plant species. Students then were able to examine several plants…

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Biodiversity at Hollenbeck

The 7th graders at Hollenbeck Middle School are studying adaptation and biodiversity in their biology classes, so that gave us a wonderful opportunity to expand learning into the garden. We discussed what plant species diversity looks like on a farm and then we played a game with homemade “species” cards. Each student randomly selected a…

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Give and Take at Weemes Elementary

Students at Weemes have been discussing plant needs and soil. This week we gave our plants a little extra soil love, by supplementing the soil with house-made fertilizer from our partner at Taking the Reins. After we added the fertilizer, we harvested tomatoes and lettuce from those same plants and made a little salad treat…

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First Read the Instructions at 6th Ave Elementary

Students at 6th Avenue had the opportunity to practice and apply literacy in the garden by planting seedlings. Each student received a set of instructions for planting their baby plant. Working in groups without oral instruction, each class planted a small group of plants. And I’m happy to say that, at the end of class,…

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Symbiotic Relationships and Predators at Mid-City Prescott

The sunflowers we planted 2 months ago have grown high over our heads and now ants are trailing up their thick skins and across broad leaves. Today’s lesson started from the question, what are all these ants doing? We discussed how tiny aphids gather around our garden leaves, and attract the ants to eat the…

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The Race to Make Good Soil at Mid-City

The students at Mid-City have a lot of energy, so they were especially excited to find out our soil lesson would involve a race! After questioning and observing how leaves and woodchips naturally break down into soil in our garden space, we gathered carbon and nitrogen materials (fruit peels, paper, and other organic materials) to…

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Scientific Observations at Weemes!

Children are naturally very curious, and the students at Weemes are especially inquisitive in the garden: “Where do plants come from?” “Why do plants need sun?” “Why did the cucumbers die?” Many of these questions we answer in our class lessons, but this week we let our students answer their own questions through the exhilarating…

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Making Sugar at Hollenbeck!

Learning standards have changed at LAUSD, so science classes are teaching different subjects from last year. We are always working to be a resource for teachers at the garden to help introduce some of these new concepts through hands on learning. For example, this semester, 7th graders need to learn the chemical process of photosynthesis…

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Listening Can be a “Fruitful” Experience at Mid-City Prescott

A few weeks ago, the teachers at Mid-City mentioned that their classes top areas for improvement are following directions and listening skills. With that in mind, this week’s activity made use of our abundant tomato harvest and included 3 large tasks that required both listening and following directions. At the beginning of class, I gave…

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Taking Learning Outside the Classroom at Mid-City Prescott

This year Mid-City Prescott is starting a new unit on systems learning for all their classes. Everything is made up of systems and so the garden class provided a perfect opportunity for students to expand their understanding. After reviewing the basics of what a system is, classes discussed ecosystems and how everything in the garden…

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Little Ladies Visit 6th Ave

Last week we had a wonderful opportunity while studying the insect life in the garden; the students found larvae of both ladybugs and Japanese beetles! That prompted a full discussion about the life cycle of the different insects in the garden as students shared facts about the butterflies they are studying in class. At the…

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The Soil Mystery at Weemes!

Students at Weemes Elementary had a mystery to solve when they came to garden class today- what happens to the wood chips as they lay on the garden paths? After taking detailed observations, the students reported that the wood chips were breaking into smaller and smaller pieces until they looked just like soil! After seeing decomposition…

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Helping Literature Come to Life at Hollenbeck

6th graders at Hollenbeck Middle School have been studying narrative forms of writing this semester so we started garden class with an excerpt from “The Secret Garden”. We discussed how the main character, Mary, finds a dead looking garden that she desperately wants to bring to life. In the book, Mary discovers that the garden…

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Sprouts can be yummy! at 6th Ave

Eating healthy can be hard for anyone, and when you’re a 3rd grader and everyday after school vendors stand on the sidewalks offering spicy, crunchy treats such as Taki’s and Hot Cheetos, its especially hard to want to eat a bunch of veggies for an afternoon snack.  Luckily, the school garden at 6th Ave offers…

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Searching for Different Plant Parts at Weemes Elementary

Today we studied 5 important plant parts and talked about their functions. 1)Roots soak up water and nutrients. 2)Stems hold plants upright. 3)Leaves soak up sunlight and air. 4) Flowers attract pollinators so they can turn into… 5)Fruits – any plant part that is full of seeds to grow a new plant. After we discussed…

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