Posts by Jessica Brown

Garden Pizza Party

T’was our very last day of the year at Toluca Lake Elementary.  As the 5th graders graduated in the auditorium, across the playground I celebrated with my kinder and 1st graders in the garden! As a special farewell treat Andrea brought fixings for some fabulous garden pizza!   We were able to break down the…

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Garden Farewells

It was my pleasure to send the first grade class off on summer vacation with a garden tea party today! Energies were certainly high as classes wrap up their year with presentations, parties and graduations. I’m grateful that the teachers were able to fit garden class in their hectic last week. To celebrate the end…

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Birds and Gardens

A garden is not just plants in the ground. A garden is an entire ecosystem from microbes to predators interacting with one another. Today in the garden we learned about one of the pieces of that complex system: birds! We usually welcome birds in our garden because many of them prey on the caterpillars and…

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Corn to Tortillas at Lassen Elementary

It was my final day in the Lassen Elementary Garden this morning. In our last class we made hand made tortillas! The corn in the garden is flowering and it was a great chance to connect food we eat everyday to the plants that produce it. I brought in corn flour and a cast iron…

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Corn Happenings at Kester Elementary

This morning I had the pleasure of substitute teaching at Kester Elementary School. I brought along my popcorn lesson that never fails to entertain! Before getting into the corn- the classes got a walk-about tour of the garden.  We checked out the poppies, tomatoes, flowering dill and, of course, the strawberries. We then settled in…

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Corn Pollination at Toluca Lake Elementary

The students at Toluca Lake got a first hand lesson in pollination this morning. We learned some new corny vocabulary words like tassels, silks and kernels. The corn in the garden has begun to flower which means the tassels have “bloomed” and the silks have begun to show their hairy heads along the stalk. After…

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Garden Decomposers Abound! at Lassen St. Elementary

We had a multitude of special guests at Lassen St. Elementary school this morning. Andrea was with me to offer a helping hand- which was definitely needed because I brought a chicken AND a pair of ducklings into the garden!  Animals fit nicely into the garden or farm ecosystem.  Beyond the wonderful eggs, meat and…

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Natives at Toluca Lake Elementary

The garden topic of the day at Toluca Lake was Native plants and flowers. Many of the plants we grow in the garden have been manipulated by humans through years by selecting seeds and sending those seeds across continents and hemispheres. We are grateful for the food diversity that an ever globalizing world has brought…

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End of the Year Garden Celebration!

Today we celebrated our very last garden class with a splendid tea party! The kids were in high spirits as they entered their final week in school. Before our party we walked about the garden and saw the very first ripe tomato! We also had a timely opportunity to witness the pollination of our blue…

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Native Flowers at Lassen St. Elementary

This morning at Lassen I was welcomed to campus with a Volunteer Appreciation breakfast! Even though I’m not a volunteer I was included in the celebration and I was very grateful! It’s truly a pleasure to be in the garden with the kids. I had to dash out of the festivities early to teach class.…

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Pollination and Seeds at Stevenson Elementary

This morning I plucked some full grown corn from my personal garden and headed to Stevenson Elementary for our lesson on pollination.  The tassels have formed at the top of the 10 foot stalks and the silks are just starting to peep out below. I showed my classes the relationship between the tassels and silks…

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Tea Party and Leaf Anatomy in the Garden

It was a brisk and overcast morning at Toluca Lake, but not too cold for a tea party!  My kindergartners warmed up with some garden yoga to get their limbs moving. We then toured around the garden hunting for interesting leaves. I explained a bit about leaves and plant anatomy; leaf veins are much like…

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Herby Days and Lassen Elementary

Last week at Lassen we created herbal infused water in the garden using mint, lemon, sage, rosemary and cucumbers.  This week in the garden we made herb bunches and the students were able to take the herbs home! We bundled lavender, rosemary and mint and learned about each one’s special beneficial properties. Mint has a…

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From Weeds to Food at Stevenson Elementary

Today at Stevenson Elementary I brought my hen, Red, in for show and tell. She is always a hit with the students, as live animals tend to be.  We sat and talked about her eggs, her food, life expectancy, baby chicks, egg color, grooming and so much more! Ms. Diamonds second grade class was particularly…

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Leaf Hunt and Seed Discovery at Toluca Lake

We had a new rotation at Toluca Lake Elementary School Garden this morning. I and my new intern, Andrea, welcomed the students into the garden by challenging them to a leaf scavenger hunt! We split off into groups and each group was given a handful of leaves.  They were tasked with finding the plant they…

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Garden Tea Party – Lassen Elementary

Tea Party Time!   My students and I had a good time infusing water with a variety of plants to make fresh garden teas- or flavored water, whichever you prefer.  We mixed lemon, mint, beets, sage, lavender and rosemary to make some tasty, beautiful and nutritious refreshments. The kids had fun working in teams to…

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Patience is Sweet: The Story of the Apple

The two apple trees in the Stevenson Garden are heavy with young green apples.  Too heavy, in fact! I took this opportunity to discuss an array of topics relating to apples. If we imagine an apple tree as of a big ball of energy, the energy eventually makes its way to the apples.  If the…

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Where Our Eggs Come From…

Today’s lesson at Toluca Lake was centered around Red, my fabulous travelling hen!  It was the last day of the rotation and Red was a special parting treat for the students as we said goodbye until next year.  Because it was such a windy day, I brought the hen into the classroom. The teachers were…

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Worms at Work

Worms! Worms! Worms! That was the theme of the garden at Lassen St. Elementary this morning.  I had a new rotation of students in the garden ready to soak in all the garden goodness. After a detailed tour of the garden, including a smelling scavenger hunt, we sat down with a worm bin to dissect…

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Garden Scavenger Hunt! At Stevenson Elementary School

Today I introduced 3 new groups of students to the garden.  When I welcome new kids in the garden I like to give them some free time to explore organically.  A great way to have “structured” exploration time is through a scavenger hunt!  I created a list of items in the garden for the kids…

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Spring Cleaning at Toluca Lake Elementary

Today in the garden we accomplished many tasks that needed our attention.  The last of the lettuce bolted, along with the spinach. The sugar snap peas finally slowed down there production and soil levels have been low.  The students today helped me remove the winter plants and put them in the compost.  We spread new…

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Dirty Hands and Spring Seedlings

Today was the last day of garden class for my 3 classes.  We celebrated by opening our flower presses! They were magnificent. We glued the dried flowers onto card stock. My Pre-K students drew pictures of the garden to match the flowers and the 1st graders are going to use them as a Mother’s Day…

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Leaves- Zoomed In

Today at Stevenson we dove deep into leaves and leaf anatomy.  Most students already knew that leaves give plants life- and us life too! Leaves play a vital role in supporting plant life.  In general, where ever you see a green leaf you will find chlorophyll, a pigment which is key in turning sunshine and…

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California Native Seed Bombs

We did another round of seed bomb making at Toluca Lake Elementary and, again, it was a huge hit with the kids and the teachers! The younger ones simply had fun learning to mix soil and water to make structures.  We can only hope that the pre-kinders remember that the seeds inside their mud balls…

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Native Flower Power

Today at Lassen St. Elementary we got our hands muddy…  REAL muddy.   So muddy, in fact, that some of the kids asked, “Are you sure we are allowed to get this dirty?” The lesson today was seed bombs!  It involves mixing sand, clay and water to create little mud balls.  We filled these mud…

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New Compost Bins! at Stevenson

This past weekend the Stevenson Elementary School Garden received a new 4-bin composter!   Such a large garden produces quite a lot of yard waste- and now we have an organized system to deal with it all! I think all the caretakers of this garden are grateful to have the new bins. My last class…

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Spring Flowers and Compost Powers!

According to my itchy eyes and runny nose, spring is blooming all around us!  Sometimes these magnificent blooms go unnoticed because they are isolated on a plant.  However, when gathered into one place they can be quite impressive! All the flowers around me tempted me into picking bouquets with the kids.  My special needs class…

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Seed Embryos at Rio Vista

Today I had the pleasure of teaching garden classes at Rio Vista Elementary School garden.  It truly is a gorgeous place to be- so many fruit trees, garden benches, flourishing vegetable beds, and shade structures.  All nestled between a public park, the Los Angeles River and Rio Vista Elementary School.  What a treat!    …

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If Chicken; Then Chicken Manure

Today was another great day hanging out with Red, my fabulous travelling hen, and my students in the Stevenson Elementary School garden. Red stole the show– There didn’t seem to be enough time to sit and ask questions about her.  We covered it all; from roosters to eggs to feathers to dinosaurs to pecking order…

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Food Preservation and Flower Presses at Toluca Lake

My students today at Toluca Lake Elementary school learned about food preservation.  We talked about what really happens when we accidentally leave an apple on the counter top for too long and it rots.  What is “rot”?   If we zoom in, we can see that rot is really micro-bacteria eating our food- turning into…

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Daily dose of Leafy Greens at Lassen St. Elementary

There is SO much to know about gardening!  Every where you turn there is lesson to be had in nutrition, soil science, climate, water cycles, pest control, art, biology and beyond!   I often have trouble synthesizing all the information I want to impart on these young minds in just 6 short weeks.  But, alas,…

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Lookin’ at Leaves at Toluca Lake Elem.

Today at Toluca Lake Elementary we took a look at the diversity of leaves we have in the garden.  Big ones, small ones, some the size of your head!  The young ones took time to draw and color the leaves.  My older classes were asked to write descriptive words next to their drawings.   Because it…

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Just Chicken’ the Garden Out

My students today had an opportunity to meet my hen ‘Red’ today.  Live animals are a great way to explain to young ones how we communicate with non-human living creatures. Red doesn’t understand our words, but she does understand our body language and the tones of our voice.  Before I unveiled the cage I carefully…

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The Secret Garden Battle Ground

Today’s lesson at Stevenson Elementary School was all about insect battles.   I talked to the students about the predator and prey cycles that happen within this living space. Aphids, for example reproduce at astonishing rates sometimes leading to a population explosion.  Their natural predator-the lady beetle- enjoy a bountiful feast at this time.  A…

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Fossil and Corn Tortillas

Today’s garden class at Toluca Lake Elementary School combined cooking with paleontology. We celebrated our last day of the rotation by cooking corn tortillas and talking about dinosaurs! We followed a simple recipe to make the tortilla masa- corn flour, water and salt. Most kids had eaten tortillas, but none of them had made them…

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Parts of an Insect

Today at Lassen St. Elementary School I explored an insects role in the garden.  We started the lesson by breaking down the insect into 7 parts. [Head, Thorax, Abdomen, Eyes, Antennae, Wings and Six Legs].  We sang an insect song to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes– which significantly helped solidify the list…

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The Glorious and Tragic Life of a Broccoli Plant

Today I had my new rotation with my 3rd and 4th graders.   Boy, what a difference between the 1st graders and these kiddos! We delved deep into the life cycle of a broccoli plant, answering not just how it lives and dies, but why.  Broccoli is a cool season veggie.  Thus, in this 80…

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We Love Manure!

The garden was full of giggles and squirming children at Toluca Lake Elementary School this morning as we talked about animal manure and it’s value in the soil.  Last week the students met my hen “Red”.  Part of the lesson was understanding that her poop contributes to a healthy soil structure and gives and extra…

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Sensory Garden Tour At Lassen Elementary

A new class rotation means new adventures in the garden!  Today I took my 3 new classes on a tour to stimulate their senses.  We practiced our two-finger-touch as we wandered through the garden, touching, smelling and tasting the plants!  There were plenty of lettuce and pea vines to snack on. We also planted some…

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The Chicken or the Egg…

Which Came first? This was one of the many questions that came up today as my classes sat and observed our guest chicken in the garden. After many rainy Mondays my hen, “Red”, finally made an appearance at the Stevenson Elementary School Garden.  I used the Socratic method in class today- I had the students…

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Chickens in the Garden!

Outdoor and garden education can be tied to all subjects in academics, especially in grade school.  My lessons have included art, math, history, science and more!   Today I brought one of my beloved chickens to class and she prompted some very lively and rarely-spoken-of topics of discussion.   Primarily the kids were just thrilled…

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Six Legged Friends and Foes

Today at Lassen St. Elementary School we discussed insects!   Most the kids reacted with a mixture or revulsion and excitement at the same time.  We drew pictures of the 7 insect parts; head, thorax, abdomen, eyes, antennas, wings and six legs.  We even had a song and dance to go along with it!  …

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Chicken Cages at Taking the Reins

Chickens can be a blessing and a curse in a garden.  They are wonderful pest control, egg producers and compost providers.  The trade-off is that they tend to eat EVERYTHING, including our precious vegetables.   Today at taking the reins EnrichLA teamed up with the crew there to build cages around the garden beds.  …

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Fruits, veggies and so much more…

Today’s garden class at Toluca Lake Elementary was once again confined to the classrooms as the storm of the year raged on outside.  Never the less, we had a comprehensive lesson on plant properties. Today’s topic:  What do plants give us? First, we thought of the obvious answers: Food, clean air, shelter, healthy bodies.  …

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Plant Aroma Therapy

The winter veggies at Lassen St. Elementary have mostly bolted at gone to seed, so there wasn’t much in the way of garden snack. However, what was thriving was our lavender plants!  These perennial herbs have set their roots in deep to survive year after year and are now blooming into magnificent, fragrant purple flowers.…

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