Lab's garden provides fertile learning ground
When Spike Wilson's second grade class returned to school in September, they cleared their garden plots of summer plants, turned the soil, raked the leaves, and pulled the weeds. Then with the advice of guest-gardeners from the Organic Gardener, the children planted lettuce, radish, turnip, and alfalfa sprout seeds.
Ever since John Dewey started the Laboratory Schools nearly 125 years ago, gardens have served as a hands-on learning lab.
"Given the weather, the autumn growing season has been a good one," says Mr. Wilson. "Students will need to pick the vegetables soon." Once the garden plots are empty again, the children will plant red clover, a good winter cover crop. The one big change? Socially distanced garden plots: instead of partners sharing, each child worked a smaller, individual plot.nce the garden plots are empty again, the children will plant red clover seeds, a good winter cover crop. The one big change to gardening this fall is socially distanced gardening: instead parners sharing a double plot, each child has a smaller, individual plot.
Littler children used the garden as a place to practice a type of inquiry: See, Think, Wonder. Jane Maciak's N4 children each marked off a cubic foot of soil—little ecosystems to explore how elements in the environment are connected to living organisms. When visiting the garden they see, think, and wonder about what happens under the cube of soil (bugs or roots?), what goes through the cube (what is growing), and what is over the cube (wind, rain, other elements).
Meredith Dodd's N3 classroom is working on a longer timeframe: they planted tulip and anemone bulbs which won't flower until spring. Tagged with the child's name, each planting will be easily identifiable when spring comes around and the flowers bloom.
Winter planting has already begun and a small experimental greenhouse with assorted plants will be available for class observation as the seasons continue to turn.