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3 School Garden Certifications; Part 2

TEACHING IN NATURE'S CLASSROOM was a 15-week course full of inspirational videos, readings, based on the themed chapters of Nathan Larson's book of the same title (above), which is beautifully written and illustrated. The main message is to create a great outdoor space and then let the garden and students guide the learning. I really enjoyed the course's use of Flipgrid to create mini-case studies shared among course participants, and they made sure that everyone learned the "Dirt made my lunch" song!

Each week, a journal reflection was prompted by questions related to the topic at hand. Here are a selection of my responses:

> Why is garden-based learning important?

For so many reasons, garden-based learning brings out health, joy, curiosity and insights in the kids who get a chance to participate. The readings and videos you curated emphasized all sorts of great benefits: empowered earth stewards, healthier eaters and growers, future food resiliency, and just enjoying and opening more to the school experience! We all know the lists of pros (academic, physical, social, mental, and more), and it’s surprising to me that so many of us have to push so hard to get school districts and the institutions to support these programs.

> Garden Classroom Design

In garden class, I asked the grades 3-6 classes to review our outdoor learning spaces using the Top 10 for Building Your Outdoor Classroom, and brainstormed ways to make our gardens better learning zones. In the next three months, I'll work with a Garden Club of enthusiastic grade 3-6 students and we'll spruce up the garden spaces with painted labels & signs, compost bin improvements, a new toolshed, a small pond, and some new play spaces. In April, classes will build a new farmstand. We can find more inspiration from these Garden Design Photo Albums.

> Hands-On Learning

We eat a lot and move a lot in the gardens. I appreciated this new lesson idea with a 6 Plant Parts Skit, followed by a 6 plant parts scavenger hunt, then a six plant parts salad or stir-fry.

> Neat Garden Project Ideas

I liked this green bottle/living wall idea... And, really there was so much more. I have actually signed up to take this course again because it's profound and based on years of actual hands-on garden and outdoor classroom design and teaching experience.

I've also enjoyed Megan Zeni's "the Classroom Gardener" series offered online via the Van Dusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, BC. And, there's an upcoming BC Farm-to-School Mentorship series, which looks great!


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