Posts by Hillary Williams

Loving Leaves at Valley View

Our last class of 2019 was held on a sunny and brisk day at Valley View Elementary.   First graders spent a lot of time discussing the importance of leaves and how they are the plant’s food source and large reason for growth!  We ended our discussion by selecting leaves from mature plants in the…

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Enrichment at St. Patrick’s School

The last few weeks at St. Patrick’s School we have been utilizing our rich and fueled compost throughout the garden.  The younger and older students have been breaking down what really makes a perfect amendment to our already fertile garden beds.  We also made sure to plant plenty of beneficial plants to our space such as…

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Primary Academy Inhales

Over at Primary Academy the native and herbal plants are going crazy.  We have native blue salvia, sticky monkey flower, curry, rosemary, lavender, pineapple mint, peppermint, basil, oregano and more!  The kids loved playing the “Guess Which Aromatic Plant am I?” game in which I cut up and hid leaves of different plants in a…

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Valley View is a Balance

Over at Valley View elementary, lives a well balanced and thriving garden space in which the students love connecting with organisms of all kinds. We returned from our summer break to a space full of color and wonder. The kids and I discussed how important every plant, creature and microorganism in the garden is. We…

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St. Patrick’s Sense of Wonder

The last few weeks at St. Patrick’s have been a full dive back into the garden.  The younger grades have been exploring all the new changes in the garden through their senses; touching, smelling, feeling and  eating their way right on through!   And boy is there a lot to eat!   They’ve harvested watermelons,…

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St. Patrick’s Prepares

Last week at St. Patrick’s school the younger grades harvested and dried tons of mint leaves for making a Mother’s Day gift of mint tea!   The kids carefully crushed the dried mint into the tea bags and decorated their little packets beautifully.  The smell was intoxicating.   The middle schoolers had worked so hard…

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A Time to Recharge at Valley View

Our second to last garden session ended this week with a lesson on cover crops and a feast.  The second and third graders learned that soil needs recharging just like people do!   By planting cover crops, (buckwheat in this case) we not only add nutrients back into our garden soil, but we also attract…

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Here Comes the Sun, Valley View!

Longer days mean that here in Los Angeles we have officially switched over from one planting season to the next.  For my veteran students there is no question as to what changes are taking place out in the garden!  They know that flowering plants mean it’s time to take note and start saving those seeds.…

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St. Patrick’s Welcomes the 3 Ps! (Kind Of)

We loooooove exploring creatures in our garden and when the kindergarteners come out the first thing the want to look for are….bugs!!!   So naturally, our inclination is to properly explain the delicate ecosystem that is existing in our very own school garden.  The three Ps are easy to break down!  Pests, pollinators and predators…

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Primary Parts!

At Primary Academy we enjoyed all the six parts of the plants and learned how to spell them as well!  You have to be creative in the garden.  It is easy to think of your favorite edible treat in the garden, but is it easy to identify what part of the plant it belongs to?…

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Valley View Digests

I looooove teaching the kindergarteners about the six parts of the plant so so much.  I love it because the best part of the lesson (other than learning what an amazing job all those parts have) is getting to eat those parts as we go along!   From flowers like purple broccoli to seeds like…

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St. Patrick’s Connects

The middle school kids at St. Patrick’s have spent a LOT of time in the garden at this point.   They’ve also learned a lot.  But after coming back out for a second session this year, I asked them to connect with the plants that they planted a couple months earlier.   They really went…

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Composting All the Way!

Last week at Valley View Elementary School, the kindergarteners learned the value of composting.   They knew how to use the bin but hadn’t learned the art of proper composting.   We played a little relay game and discussed what goes in the bin and what should be put in the recycling or trash bin…

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Friends Hard at Work

This week at St. Patrick’s School, the littles came out to learn all about the hard working and sometimes pesty creatures in the garden.  We discussed the reason insects flock to gardens by using our three P’s, predators, pollinators and pests.   The kids played an aphid and ladybug game of tag and helped me…

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Exploration at Valley View

This week at Valley View Elementary the kids took advantage of the cool and crisp weather out in the garden.   The first graders used their five senses to describe plants in their journals.  They are wonderful little writers…my favorite descriptive word was “rumbly” to describe the texture of a leaf.  Kinders learned about the…

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Water Cycle At Primary Academy

We sat down last week at Primary Academy to discuss the water cycle and it’s importance in plants and nature.   The kids learned to identify evaporation, condensation and precipitation in the cycle and what each means.   Our foggy, cloudy morning was a good segueway into the lesson.  Once the kids drew and labeled…

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Exploration at St.Patrick’s School

Last week at St. Patrick’s the kids came out into the garden and worked on some pretty spectacular haikus.  Because the students were directed to find a special place to find inspiration, no stone was left unturned.   A praying mantis was discovered in the mint and another in a spiderweb.  The kids picked and…

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Dayton Digs

We are definitely getting the garden ready for Summer at Dayton Heights Elementary.   It’s the time of year when garden rangers get even more sore than usual!  Lost to prune, pull, plan and plant. Lucky for me the third graders helped quite a bit today digging up the long awaited potatoes…harvesting plenty for all…

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Sharing is Caring

This week at St. Patrick’s the kids learned a lot about the precarious state that bees are in!  With 1/3 of our crops dependant on bees for pollination, we can’t afford to lose any more bees to flowerless landscapes, pesticides, or crop “food deserts”.   Bees depend on pollen for protein and nectar for carbohydrates…

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Life Surrounds Us

Last week at Mayberry the kids and I discussed the most abundant and teaming source of life and is literally present everywhere, micro organisms or microbes as I like to call them.   The kids learned how one teaspoon of soil can have as many as one billion microbes and their bodies have tons more…

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All the Little Helpers

Today in the garden at Primary Academy we were surrounded by tons of helpful creatures.  The second graders learned a lot about worms by getting up close and personal!  These little invertabraes not only create delicious compost but they also dig tunnels throughout the soil letting air and water reach even the deepest roots.  …

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Sowing Oats and Observing Life

Today at Dayton Heights my two SLD classes brought out the seeds we had germinated in the classroom.   We learned what it takes for a seed to shed its coat and begin the next chapter of its life cycle.   After taking notes the kids went out into the garden and planted their seedlings.…

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St. Patrick’s Harvest And Housekeeping

St. Patrick’s School retuned this week after a Spring Break and had we had our work cut out for us.   There was much weeding to do and lots to harvest.  The upper grades worked hard weeding and harvesting peas from our three massive pea vines.  They beat the heat with cucumbers, tajin and hummus.…

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When Compost Is Ready!

The primary grades at Mayberry are very good at making compost.   They know the right ratio of browns to greens, they add water and spin the tumblers every chance they get…BUT, what happens when you have a full heavy load of compost?   You feed your garden, of course!  And the students at Mayberry…

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Hill, hill, STRAWberries!

You know why they call them strawberries?  Because these delicious fruits of the Earth have a tendency to draw even the quietest of creatures to feast upon their goodness.  At every single one of my four schools, rollie-pollies love to munch on our beloved strawberries…I’ve tried Dr. Bronners, I’ve tried weed liner…we are now trying…

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Spring Has Sprung!

Back from Spring Break, the students at Dayton Heights Elementary came out into the garden buzzing.   The kinder kids observed all of the spring seedlings that have begun to sprout from our generous rainfalls.  Older students spent their last garden class of this session writing haikus and sharing them before snacking on tomatoes, basil…

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Cool Beginnings at Dayton Heights

Last week at Dayton Elementary, the kids really enjoyed the start of our true and long awaited cool season.  It had drizzled earlier in the morning and the day signified a change.   The kids helped plant fall seedlings like cauliflower and onion, we saw butterflies darting around in the crisp air and tasted the…

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Microbes Everywhere at Primary Academy!

Where are microbes?  Everywhere!  It was easy for the students to realize just how important microbes are when you learn that they outnumber humnas by the billions.  Bacteria tiny as can be, unseen to the naked eye, but changing the world everyday…those are microbes.   We call them invisible transformers and they are amazing!  …

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A Change is Coming at St Patricks!

St. Patrick’s School garden has only lived through one season and now that the weather has cooled down, the kids are getting a hands-on lesson on what thrives under cooler and more temperate conditions. The older kids pulled corn, honeydew and tomato plants after harvesting all of the delicious edibles that we could. They chopped…

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Go Native! – Mayberry Street Elementary

Last week at Mayberry Elementary the students and I discussed the importance of growing native plants. We defined three important terms; native, exotic and invasive.  Examples of invasive plants such as the ice plant and its detrimental effects on local wildlife fascinated the kids. We pointed out the exotic palm trees literally all around us…

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Aromatherapy at Dayton Heights!

School can be stressful –  there are tests to study for, projects to work on, and friendships to navigate. Well, the kids at Dayton Heights have been exploring a new way to handle tough days through aromatherapy. Students used class time to breathe in a bit of lavender, sage, or basil as a way to…

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Exploring Life in the Garden

At St. Patrick’s we explored the beneficial and detrimental bugs in the garden.  The kids learned about different species of insects that are either defined as predators, pollinators or prey.  We discussed how they are all interconnected and would not survive without one another. After we played freeze tag as friends and foes, we munched…

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Yay to Cauliflower @ Primary Academy!

Last week at Primary Academy, we planted cool weather veggies in the garden.   Seeds of broccoli, carrots and snap peas were sowed into the beds and seedlings of mustard, Chinese cabbage and kale were transplanted as well. This week, we had a special treat for a snack. My lovely volunteer and nutritional science major,…

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Beginning a Compost at St. Patrick’s

Today at St. Patrick’s School, the upper grades started the day off discussing the ins and outs of building a perfect compost. These kids are smart and after going over greens and browns, many of them already knew the important work of the FBI (fungus, bacteria and invertebrates!). The kids played a fun game of…

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Primary Academy Tidies Up!

Last week at Primary Academy we worked really hard pruning all of our tomato plants that had started to brown a bit.  The kids also trimmed the herbs and deadheaded some mums.   We discovered three plants that had created seeds for us to save…beans, corn, and sunflowers. It was a great lesson for students…

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First Day at St. Patrick’s!

Our first day at St. Patrick’s Catholic School was filled with new wonders and getting acquainted!   The kids learned the garden rules and we walked through the garden and learned all the moving parts.   The Kinders did a lot of garden movement and practice exploration time in the garden. The 6th and 7th graders…

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Fall Planning

At Dayton Heights the fourth grade has taken control of their garden’s destiny.   There is good reason for that, they know what to do!  The kids were excited to have a bit of crispness in the air and started listing all the cool weather plants that would do well in their garden space.  …

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Here Comes Summer at Primary Academy!

Summer has definitely hit the garden at Primary Academy for Success.   The kids could see vibrant colors bursting everywhere with strawberries thriving and tomatoes popping.   We discussed all the good things that beneficial bugs do for our garden and learned about some not so favorable pests as well.  Ms. Garcia’s kindergarteners released over…

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New Tumblers at Mayberry

Thanks to the amazing community at Mayberry Elementery, we received two new composting tumblers via the incredible Ms. Beas and her Donors Choose fund.   Ms. Peggy DiCaprio, my lovely parent volunteer, set up the tumblers with a friend while I taught classes and the kids reveled in their magic once all was in place.…

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Let’s Do…a Haiku

“Bees fly very high. Sunflowers reach the tall clouds. Mint smells good and fresh.” Last week at Dayton Heights the kids came out with their journals and we discussed the inspiration that can come through nature.  Senses are flaring when we are outside feeling, exploring and just being still.   We learned what a haiku is…

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Mayberry Talks Edible Plant Parts

Last week at Mayberry the first graders came out and discussed the six parts of the plant with me.   We learned what each part does for the plant and which parts of certain edible plays we indeed eat.   After walking through the garden and identifying the edible parts of each plant, the kids…

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Herbal Bouqets

Last week at Primary Academy, the second graders spent their bonus session talking about herbs and how lovely they can be in a garden, added to a dish, or in aiding our bodies to fight discomfort or illness.  We walked throughout the garden beds and examined all the herbs through sight, touch, taste and smell.…

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Dayton Talks Photosynthesis

This week at Dayton Heights a couple of classes came back out into the garden for their second session of the year.   We discussed the all important magic of photosynthesis, learning that photo means light and synthesis means to put together.   The second and third graders were pretty into it and were fascinated…

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Appreciation and Dedication

What a fun couple of weeks it was subbing for Ms. Flo at Hollywood Schoolhouse.  The second visit at the garden was a day of clearing beds and planting seeds.   We enjoyed an appreciative lesson in honor of bees, revisiting their importance in the garden and the whole ecosystem of our Earth.   After,…

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