Second graders usually don’t go out of their way to eat their vegetables, but in Heather Watson’s second-grade class at Brogden Primary School, it’s a different story.
Children plucked leaves of lettuce, pulled weeds and poured water on plants, fruits and other vegetables in the Brogden Primary School garden, enjoying an activity that some adults might even find too cumbersome.
“The children are still at the same age where science is the same thing as magic. If you put something in the dirt, it still looks like dirt, but within two days, all of a sudden, something appears,” Watson said. “So, science is like magic, and that’s what they love.”
Watson takes the children out to the garden 20 minutes every day to get some fresh air where they learn how to care for living things, like plants.
She said the garden also teaches the children valuable lessons beyond growing and caring for plants.
“With this garden, my children have been able for two years now to learn measurements, which is in the standard course of study,” Watson said. “They’ve learned about life cycles. They’ve learned reading skills and speaking and listening skills through watching how-to videos on certain plants.
“So, I’ve been able to cover every piece of my curriculum in some way with this garden.”
Getting a little dirty after playing in the soil, Watson’s students, with the help of a few volunteers, make sure plants grow and stay healthy, while occasionally, they get to eat the fruits of their labor.
“I think the garden teaches kids about responsibility of how to take care of something, how to water it, weed and things like that,” volunteer Phyllis Smith said. “Once you put a seed in the ground, it’s got to have help.”
Watson started the garden last year after receiving a $1,000 grant from the Tri-County Electric Membership Corp.
She used the money for planters and soil to get the garden started and to keep the cost of the garden down, Watson makes sure to recycle as many items as possible.
“We also were gifted some seeds that we have started to get some of our plants from this year, and we harvest some of our plants so we grow them the following year,” Watson said.
Growing vegetables is a new experience for many of the youngsters, such as Bella Lane and Anahi Hernandez-Perez, but they enjoy getting to plant, pick and eat the fruit and vegetables they’ve taken care of and watched grow.
“It’s really pretty, and it has a lot of plants. I like to grow flowers because they are really pretty, and butterflies go near them,” Lane said. “You have to guard it and pull all the weeds out so plants can grow.”
Hernandez-Perez said her favorite thing about gardening is getting to grow a variety of items, including one of her favorite fruits, strawberries.
“I like it because it’s fun to experiment with different things,” Hernandez-Perez said. “I like everything, but my favorite part is the strawberries because I like strawberries.”
Watson said she is glad other classes throughout the school also interact with the garden and hopes it continues growing so children can enjoy valuable hands-on experiences.
“I have classes where they’ve come by, and they walk and see how much growth is there, so other teachers can use what we’re doing in writing, mathematics and science,” Watson said. “It’s been an amazing project to be a part of.
“It’s hit so many pieces of curriculum and grade levels and stakeholders within the community.”
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