¡Vamos al jardín! Working Together in a Community Garden
Overview What kinds of projects help children learn both English and Spanish? Try gardening together! The Granada Park Community Garden, just a block away from this two way bilingual school, creates a context of meaningful Science, Mathematics, Spanish and English for a class of first graders. Children learn about the natural world through their close observation of weather patterns and growth patterns in seeds they germinate and in animals they find. Children record their observations in bilingual science journals and learn how to illustrate them using Kid Pix. As work progresses, children learn Spanish and English, a main goal of the school, in a context embedded situation. Finally, through a dialogue with older students, neighbors, and families, children experience how cooperative work builds a stronger community.
Assessment Teacher and administrator observe and record level of interaction, dialogue, and written and spoken comprehension. Teacher and students meet in response groups to evaluate increasing levels of detail in journals, recorded observations in group charts, and student made bilingual books. Parental participation during seasonal clean-ups indicates successful family inclusion in garden community. Before and After Wish Tree Reflections also gauge project's success.
Software or Materials Used for literature: Wanda's Roses by Pat Brisson 1994: Boyds Mills; Let It Rot: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Storey's Down-To-Earth Guides) by Stu Campbell 1998: Storey Books; Plants (Make It Work! Series) by Andrew Haslam etc. 2000: Two-Can Publishers; Doing What Scientists Do Children Learn to Investigate Their World by Ellen Doris 1997: Reed Elsevier; My Backyard Garden by Carol Lerner 1998: William Morrow; for gardening supplies, crafts, tools; seeds, indoor compost equipment: National Gardening Association membership offers resources and free seeds; fresh fruits and vegetables; for crafts and writing: journals, paper, paint, leaves, seeds; about resources: local Museums of Science and State Cooperative Extension Offices provide valuable classroom resources for hands-on gardening; for software: Microsoft Office; Kid Pix Deluxe.
Web Sites National Gardening Association's kidsgardening.com; Kid Pix Educators' Site; Criteria for Success in Two-Way Bilingual Education; Environmental Education Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs
Keywords Service Learning, Indoor Composting, Composting, Learning to Observe, Community Garden, Community Work, Two Way Bilingual School, English and Spanish Literacy
Final Words Along with developing written and spoken communication skills, community gardening heightens children's awareness and appreciation of the natural world and allows them to value community work.
Teacher Tip As you plan activities, be open and let them grow based on children's curiosity and interests. This type of collaboration produces excitement and true learning when you "seize teachable moments."
E-mail contact Ana Vaisenstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Teacher Bio Ana Vaisenstein was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she began her teaching career as an elementary and creative movement teacher. In 1986, she arrived in the United States to study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Upon graduation she focused her work on the education of young children, as director of Jamaica Plain Head Start and other state funded preschool programs. Her interest in the learning process made her return to the classroom, and since 1998, she has been teaching kindergarten and first grade at the Rafael Hernández Two Way Bilingual School. For more about Ana's thoughts on young children's literacy development, read her article "The Tooth Fairy and the Magic of Beginning Readers" in Literacy All Day Long.
Subject Areas English & Spanish Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies
Grade Levels 1 - 5
Students monolingual English & Spanish; bilingual Spanish/English students in a two-way bilingual school