¡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.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Write & send invitations to community garden partners.
Prepare wish tree for partners.
Read Wanda's Roses & other garden stories.
Start & tend indoor compost.
Observe pumpkin's decomposition process.
Taste vegetables & herbs & select favorites.
Germinate seeds & use Kid Pix to record growth process in science journals.
Make nature prints from leaves & flowers.
Analyze digital photos of student & neighbor gardeners.
Prepare observations to share.
Introduce gardening partners: older students, families & neighbors at garden launching.
Share wishes & place on tree.
Participate in seasonal garden clean-ups.
Ask school community to contribute to compost.
Prepare garden soil with indoor compost & community gardeners' outdoor compost.
Discuss garden progress with older students & learn about their greenhouse experiments.
Publish children's observations in school bilingual newspaper (or download, 4.28 MB).
Organize community garden barbecue with partners.
Share computer slide show (or download, 394 KB) at barbecue & school wide events.
Invite community leaders to tell history of Granada Park Community Garden - from empty lot to community garden.
Invite Director of Education of Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Office to talk with children about recycling & composting.
Invite community gardener to talk about how weather affects plant growth.
Invite nutritionist from UMass Cooperative Extension Program to talk about good nutrition.
Listen to community gardeners share tips about growing vegetables & herbs.

Learning Standards English Language Art

Listen carefully & engage in discussion.
Use effective oral language.
Read & participate in reading with others.
Read content area materials.
Understand & express points of view.

Learning Standards Math

Use process of measuring & understand concepts related to units of measure.
Collect, organize & describe data.
Formulate and solve problems that involve collecting & analyzing data.

Learning Standards Science

Understand role of observation & experimentation in the scientific process & the development of scientific theories.
Connect study of science & technology to career opportunities.
Gather scientific information through observation & experimentation in laboratory & field. through questioning & interviewing, library work & other information-gathering activities.
Communicate results obtained by observation, experimentation, questioning, interviewing & library work through models, illustrations, narratives & oral presentations.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication & Literacy Skills.
Organize & Analyze Information.
Solve Problems.
Use Technology.
Complete Entire Activities.
Develop Team Skills.

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 anavais@gis.net

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

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