Field reports from

Woodlawn Elementary School

The edible garden at Woodlawn Elementary School was built in Fall 2012. Situated under shady trees, the garden has raised beds, an arbor, and picnic tables.

Kid Powered Salad at Woodlawn

A great way to end a session is to make a fresh salad with ingredients straight from the garden! Everyone worked together to slice, chop and dice, tomatoes and various types of kale, green onions and carrots. We also added pomegranate seeds and dressed the salad with a splash of vinager, sea salt and a…

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Woodlawn Discovers How Soil is Made

Learning about how soil is made is amazing. It’s been happening since the beginning of our Earth; the recycling of organic matter rich with nutrients, transformed into exactly what a plant needs. This week the kids at Woodlawn participated in “feeding” their compost bin with dead leaves, twigs and shredded paper from the school. They…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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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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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Woodlawn Avenue Elementary

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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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Surprise! Seeds Have Germinated!

I was excited to find out that the seeds the 2nd grade planted last week in the newspaper cup, have sprouted! I asked the kids if they remembered what the seed packet indicated under days for germination. Eight to ten days is the typical rate for snap peas to sprout. Their seeds sprouted on Tuesday;…

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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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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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New Rotation, New Friends – Woodlawn

I’m excited this new garden rotation includes 3rd and 4th grades!  This group knows a lot about earth science so I’m looking forward to introducing them to some new challenging yet fun garden curriculum. During the first session, we got to investigate the garden by using our senses. The kids touched plant leaves and stems…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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