This is the time of the school year when schedules become unscheduled, students start to feel like summer has arrived (and act accordingly), and it’s also the time when the most amazing displays of learning happen.
We’re lucky to have a school garden…and even luckier to have a gardening teacher who takes our students out to the garden to plant, learn, and harvest each week. And yet unexpectedly this week our gardening teacher resigned. So we (my teaching partner and I) decided this would be an excellent time to have our students get their iPads and head out to the garden to take some photos.
It was just a week ago that I had taken the first and second graders out around the school grounds to take photos while the third graders were otherwise occupied. And as we walked the campus they framed shots of whatever caught their eyes…and many of the photos are stunning! (When they get them posted on their blogs, I’ll link you to a few!)
So with iPads in hand, our students were eager to explore the garden. They photographed strawberries and cucumbers, sunflowers and squash, bees and caterpillars. They delighted over each new find and worked to capture their discoveries in photographs. (And I couldn’t resist a few either!)
But taking pictures just wasn’t enough. So after recess (and putting the iPads safely away), we headed back to the garden with our writer’s notebooks. And that is when the true magic happened. Our students settled with their notebooks to capture their images of the garden in words…words of their choice, format of their choice, style of their choice. They sat on the ground, on the stumps, on the benches, and even on the edges of the garden beds. Some sat alone, others gathered in small clusters. And all wrote. A magical hush settled on the garden. We could hear the shush and whoosh of cars passing by and the songs of the birds that would swoop into the beds for a nibble here and there. Butterflies flitted from blossom to blossom and bees went about the business of pollinating too.
After some time writing, I got up to peek at the students writing and captured a few images of the writers in action.
After a time, we gathered back together to share a few lines from their writing and experienced the richness and variety of what it means to write under the influence of the garden. I can’t wait to see how they transform this writing into blog posts that also include their photos.
So, I’m reminded that the unscheduling of schedules can result in wonderful serendipity…and the most incredible writing! Gardens are amazing places…and our school garden is truly spectacular, filled with life and science and learning and offering students so many opportunities to interact with the natural world and get close to the foods they eat. There is really nothing like a bit of garden magic.