Nourish the mind, body, and planet
We provide a safe and secure place to learn with abundant activities that model healthy behavior, grow strong bodies and teach children how to make a lasting, positive impact on the planet.
Today was a most exciting day in Strands class!! After waiting and watching all summer, we finally picked our Grove garden watermelon!!! We measured it’s length and girth. We smelled, tasted and touched each part of the plant, and we even found a cool spiral pattern in the flesh of the watermelon when we cut it open! Finally, we had a taste!
We composted all our left over watermelon rinds, and kept all of the seeds to replant next spring. How wonderful it is when everything comes full circle : )
Started from seeds.
Sprinkled into the earth.
We watered and watched.
Green sprouts emerge.
And check the plants.
We read, “The Carrot Seed”.
And then it’s time!
Little hands pull and tug…
I love starting my day off in our Grove garden. While I was making my morning rounds, I found several Grove garden surprises that made my day!
Pumpkins growing out of our compost!
Grapes on our grape vines!
A watermelon in our melon patch!
A cucumber family!
Our first ear of corn!
A green pepper turning red!
Just a wonderful reminder that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy garden discoveries : )
Two weeks after Earth Day, and there’s still a lot of talk about recycling, gardening and wildlife around my house. But mostly my talk. And my teaching. How are these subjects developing in the minds of my daughter and her friends? I wanted to find out so I asked them a few open-ended questions and videotaped their answers. Have a look.
Things we can do to help the Earth:
Friends talk about our planet:
This is a fun project that yields the sentiments of your child. Like the idea that Earth is where the people we love live. After viewing TV series like Planet Earth, it’s nice to leave the jungles and ocean floors and return to the idea of Earth as our families’ home. That simple but moving notion brings the Earth Day mission full-circle; back to the concept of saving the planet for the generations to come. Plus it reveals how central Earth is to our children’s sense of family.
What does Earth look like through the eyes of your child?
This projects is easy to pull off. You don’t need a fancy recorder. The video function on your digital phone works great. Here are questions to help start your inquiry:
−Where is the Earth?
−What grows there?
−What do you want to do to help the Earth?
Be sure to share your video with us.
Remember too that we have a fabulous new eco-adventure summer program at The Grove School. In it we’ll introduce your child to the five major biomes of the world—deserts, forests, grasslands, tundra and water. Learn more.
Planting with kids of any age encourages their interest in nature and gives invaluable basic skills, like the ability to see cause-and-effect relationships, explore sensory experiences, express creativity and practice inquiry. Not to mention the chance to develop patience, responsibility and self-confidence. Plus gardening is fun. Kids love scooping dirt, planting seeds and watching plants grow.
Container gardens make a great introduction to gardening for children. And now through May is the ideal time to plant a decorative container. They’re space-savers—a window sill, patio, balcony or doorstep will provide sufficient space. And they’re great for food or flowers. Here’s a 3-step plan to get you started.
Step 1: Find a container
Planter boxes, wooden barrels and large flowerpots can be used. Or get creative and reuse items that your child will appreciate, like juice boxes, rubber balls, a baby bathtub or a toy box. See how to create these and other fun containers here. Make sure your container has adequate drainage. Holes should be at least 1/2 inch across.
Step 2: Pot your plant
Start with dirt. Ask your child what dirt is. There are different kinds of it. Show her by taking a walk in your neighborhood and touching the soil at a variety of locations, like a building site, stream bed, or friend’s flower garden. For older children, explain that life on Earth depends on the nutrient cycling that takes place in the soil as microorganisms and larger animals recycle organic materials.
The dirt in your container should drain rapidly but retain enough moisture to keep the roots evenly moist. This site has good soil instructions. And here’s a video that shows how to mix your own organic soil. When it’s time to pot, encourage your child to help. They can mix dirt, scoop it into the pot and poke in the seeds.
As far as what to grow, consider planting things that your child like to eat. Or grow a wide variety of annuals. Here are some plants ideally suited for growing in containers:
Veggies: Tomatoes, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes, parsley
Flowers: Pansies and nasturtiums (their leaves are edible), marigolds, snapdragons, periwinkles
Step 3: Water, watch and wait
Your child will love holding the hose or watering can. If you use a hose, set the nozzle on mist to keep from drowning the plant. In the coming days, help your child vary the watering regime and adjust the amount of sun or shade. Keep in mind that container gardens must be watered more frequently than ground plants. Container plants can not tap into the moisture which ground plants have access too deep within the soil. And, if outside, container gardens have the full force of the sun to dry out their soil.
After a week or two, you and your child will get a feel for how much water your plant needs. Help your child remember to water by printing a watering chart from chartjungle.com. It has space to write down names of plants and check off boxes for the days of the week the plants need watering.
Show off your work. Plant this weekend, take a picture and send it to us using our flickr photostream.
Last week I wrote about Nature Deficit Disorder and its alarming consequences for our children, including mood disorders, attention-span issues and obesity. Not to mention the fact that they miss the benefits of outdoor play, like greater self-esteem, creativity and improved attention span.
But since you enrolled your child in a school like The Grove School and you’re reading this post, chances are you appreciate the value of the great outdoors. Problem is there are obstacles to getting there. Here are remedies for 3 common ones.
Obstacle: Both parents have indoor responsibilities, so no one is available to supervise young kids outside.
- Team up with other parents in the neighborhood or from your child’s class to share supervision.
- Hire a baby sitter specifically for a few hours of outdoor play.
- Try to work outdoors on your laptop while the kids play in a safe area.
- Schedule outdoor time by actually writing “go outside” on the family calendar each week or (ideally) each day.
Here’s something you can schedule today: The National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.
Obstacle: Indoor enrichment classes leave no time to be outdoors.
Remedies: If the balance seems off, it might be time to reassess. All of the articles I reviewed suggest that an hour outdoors can be as enriching than an hour of instruction indoors. Before you sign your children up for computer summer school, consider camps that focus on unstructured time in the environment, where children are free to use all their senses and play as they wish. Check out The Grove School’s eco-adventure summer program.
Obstacle: I’m not naturally outdoorsy, and I’m not sure where to find nature near my me.
Remedies: Nature Deficit Disorder activist Richard Louv has a wonderful Resource Guide for this. One of his lovely suggestions: “Be a cloudspotter. No special shoes or drive to the soccer field is required for ‘clouding.’ A young person just needs a view of the sky (even if it’s from a bedroom window) and a guidebook.” Check out Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s wonderful book “The Cloudspotter’s Guide.”
Through April, I’ll cover other nature-related topics and activities here in the blog. And I’d love to hear ideas from you. Leave them in the Comments section below.
Some glorious images of our planet from NASA. Check out more pictures at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Flickr page.
All images courtesy of NASA.
I hear the term Nature Deficit Disorder so much lately that I decided to look into it. NDD, as it’s sometimes called, describes the American youth’s lack of relationship with the environment. It’s a problem because it has led to a nationwide increase in childhood mood disorders like anxiety, depression, obesity and attention-span issues.
Richard Louv is leading the wake-up call. In his book, “Last Child in the Woods” (first published in 2005) he points to TV, Internet and other multimedia outlets as major contributors to our youth’s sedentary lifestyle. According to research, the average home in the U.S. has more TVs than children, and kids in our country watch more TV than children any place else in the world.
What I find so interesting about Louv’s message is that it’s not just about turning off the TV. It’s about actually getting outside. That’s important because studies show that time spent in nature gives our children valuable ingredients for healthy, happy living. For example, one resource I found cited that children’s attentional functioning improves after play in green settings. And that the greener an activity area the better the children functioned, with attention deficit symptoms becoming less severe. Another resource suggests that a connection to nature leads to greater self-esteem. Louv says it best, “Parents should see the woods, streams, fields and canyons around their home as a type of therapy to keep kids focused, confident, healthy, and balanced.”
This totally struck such a cord with me because I cherish the memories of my own childhood outdoor adventures. I can’t imagine my daughter not having the same experience.
On Monday, I’ll cover more on this topic, including some creative ideas for getting outside with your kids. In the meantime, be sure to leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.
One of the joys of having a preschooler is hearing the creative ideas they have for real-world issues. To get my daughter talking about Earth Day, I popped in the album “Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George” by Jack Johnson and Friends. On it is the “3 R’s” song, which highlights the concepts reduce, reuse and recycle. And it features math too. Grab your child and have a listen.
My daughter loves that song. And I do, too. It’s relevant to our times and it’s fun to sing. There’s also a lot in it to help spark communication about Earth Day. Here are a couple of conversation-starter suggestions:
What do the words reduce, reuse and recycle mean?
- Reduce means to make something simpler or smaller.
- Reuse means to use something more than once.
- Recycle means to put something used through a process that allows it to be used again.
To help define other Earth Day words, check out this online dictionary for kids.
Why do you think we do these activities?
Talking about these actions can help children learn how simple items they use every day can be reduced, reused and recycled. This encourages them to be helpful around the house and yard, as well as to help take care of our planet.
How else do you learn what’s on your child’s mind on Earth Day? Be sure to share it all with us in the Comments section below.
Here at The Grove School, we celebrate the Earth every day. Doing so is part of our commitment to model healthy behavior, grow strong bodies and teach children how to make a lasting, positive impact on the planet.
Through the rest of April on our blog, we will feature activities, resources and tips to learn how to protect our environment and appreciate nature. We’ll also showcase the school’s celebrations on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22. Be sure to let us know how you’re celebrating the day. And do share your favorite activities in our Comments section below.
Discover the Story of Earth Day
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Democratic U.S. Senator and then Governor of Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson. Nelson was a passionate environmentalist in a time when there was no Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act or EPA. Factories just spewed toxic materials into the natural landscape. Nelson wanted to change that.
He discovered that the people of Wisconsin supported his passion, and he believed that the nation would echo their sentiment. In 1963, he wrote a memo to President John F. Kennedy arguing that the environment was a popular issue worthy of the president’s upcoming speaking tour. The president agreed and the tour became known as the Conservation Tour.
The tour did not result in change. Nelson worked on Congress for the next 6 years to raise the alarm. He was fruitless, so he decided to take his message to the American people.
In 1969 he proposed a national teach-in for the environment. He got the idea from college students who had been staging teach-ins to educate their campuses about the war in Vietnam. Seven months later Nelson’s idea resulted in the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Twenty million Americans demonstrated on April 22, 1970. Congress took notice. Before the year’s end, they authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Other critical environmental initiatives would soon follow.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated internationally. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. You may see the Earth Day flag, which was designed by world peace advocate John McConnell.
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