- Mill Road Intermediate School
- Garden Classroom Blog
May 2021Posted by Holly Bloom on 5/31/2021 10:00:00 AM
May has been a busy month! It was filled with unseasonably hot and cold days, late planting and Wellness Day! We had a slow start due to cooler weather in the beginning of the month but it warmed up quickly by the end. Our Garden students have been busy planting & mulching the last two weeks.
They planted Kale, Red & Green Cabbage, Eggplant Varieties, Green & Red Peppers, Red Onions, Zucchini, Cantelope, Red Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Sunflowers and soon to come...3 Sisters Corn, Bean, Squash, Watermelon and Cucumbers!
On Friday May 21, 2021 the K-2 side celebrated Wellness Day and 2nd Grade was able to make it out to the garden for the first time this year. It was a hot day but students were able to cool off in the misting station. Click the link to view video Wellness Day/Cooling Mist Station
April 2021Posted by Holly Bloom on 4/27/2021
April has been an exciting month! Spring is finally here which means we have been able to get out to the garden. We also had two important holidays! On Earth Day we learned about how to reduce our waste by reducing, reusing and recycling. For Arbor Day we learned about the relationship between fungus and trees and how they help each other grow. We made a group poster for the Town of Red Hook Tree Commission Arbor Day Poster Contest!
Our students went on a bug scavenger hunt and made centipede legs with their hands/shadows on the newly tilled sunflower bed.
Garden UpdatePosted by Holly Bloom on 3/23/2021 12:00:00 PM
Spring is in the air! There have been few changes to the Mill Road Garden Program. We have a new Garden Educator, Holly Bloom who started in February. Miss Alexi is teaching Mrs. Ferdinand's 3rd Grade class for the remainder of the 2020-2021 School Year. We will all miss her very much and wish her luck with her new class! We also have a new Garden Assistant Emma Patsey, who will be joining us in April. Lots of changes this year and more to come!
Take a look at what we have been up to!
Mrs. Reyes and Mrs. Thomas' Class enjoy the sunshine on their first garden tour of the season!
Germination Unit! We prepare for Spring and learn about the steps our seeds go through when they grow.
Lyla learns looks at roots and shoots!
Mrs. Leedy's class learns about germination.
Vermicomposting (worm) Unit!
School Maple Syrup (left) VS Store Maple Syrup (right). Students learned about evaporation and how to make maple syrup for tree sap. They tested fresh maple syrup made from Sugar Maple Trees outside of the Mill Road School.
Garden UpdatePosted by Alexi Bolton on 1/4/2021
Happy New Year! Here is your long overdue update about what's been happening in the garden! Though covid has changed everything, our treasured outdoor classroom is thriving and was particularly useful this fall. So here is an update on what we've been up to since last spring!
After school closed down, Garden classes moved online. We did a number of projects aimed at getting kids exploring their outdoor spaces and observing nature. Among our favorite activities were making upcycled bird (or squirrel!) feeders for Earth day, dissecting and learning about the parts of a flower, making insect hotels and doing scavenger hunts to explore garden critters and pollinators.
At the end of the school year many students painted rocks to display in the garden as a show of community and solidarity.
Even though we were apart, we created something beautiful together.
Over the summer we were very fortunate to have 11 families sign up to care for our garden over the summer. They worked hard and made sure our garden was ready for the long-awaited reopening of school in the fall. Look at this beautiful garlic harvest they brought in!
This fall we were so fortunate to have our outdoor classroom as a safe place for children to come together, learn and explore doing hands on activities. Due to scheduling complications, Garden classes were limited to Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade and FLEX classes in the fall. Pre-K and kindergarten had a blast harvesting vegetables for the very first time.
And first graders couldn't wait to do it again!
In October, when a lot of our plants were going to seed, Pre-K did a seed scavenger hunt and marveled at all the different seeds they found!
Many of us also went out on the school's nature trail for the very first time! After the garden was put to bed for the winter, we took a listening walk on the nature trail and counted the different sounds we heard. We listened to the fall leaves go crrrrunch, to the whispering wind, to trees going creak and birds flying overhead.
Once classes moved indoors we explored bulbs and everyone took a clove of garlic home to plant.
And most recently we have been discussing food rituals. We read the story Bee Bim Bop and talked about cooking with our families, writing stories of our favorite meals to cook.
This fall we also offered a popular garden club for 3-5 students to have a chance to get outside, socialize and do some hands on learning. We sifted compost, collected seeds, planted garlic, painted pavers and put the garden beds to rest for the winter.
We even made the best of rainy days! Here we are preparing garlic for planting
and doing a floating seed experiment by creating model seeds out of paper.
And finally a HUGE thank you to our families who turned out for our volunteer work day earlier this fall!!! We were able to get some important infrastructure updates finished - FINALLY putting some sturdy hardware cloth around the base of our fencing to keep out those pesky woodchucks who plague us every year! Here are some young volunteers taking a well-earned, socially distanced pizza break!
It was a very active fall is now a busy winter! Wishing all our Mill Road families a very happy New Year and many garden adventures in 2021!
Spring is in the Air!Posted by Alexi Bolton on 3/4/2020 12:00:00 PM
Our indoor garden classes are winding down - later this month we'll begin to transition our classes outside. But what a winter it has been!
Over the past month primary students continued with their studies of composting and sustainability. We made compost in a bottle to see up close what happens to our food scraps when we give them the right conditions for composting. This is an experiment you can easily do at home. Add some soil to the bottom of a large clear container. Layer in some woodchips and then put food scraps at the top. Spray it with some water to keep it moist and mix it up every few days to give it oxygen. Then let the decomposers (mostly bacteria in this case) do their work!
Fresh comopost in a bottle 2 weeks Later
We also explored the word biodegradable as we added a plastic spoon to our compost in a bottle. We all observed that plastic will not decompose, so it's very important to sort our foodscraps carefully!
On a few gorgeous February days, several first and second grade classes made the trip out to see our new compost bins. They could not believe how all of our food scraps in the cafeteria break down in such a short time!
As the weather begins to warm up, we've begun our study of seeds. Last week classes learned the difference between fruit and vegetables. Fruit comes from the flower of the plant and has seeds inside, while vegetables come from the stems, leaves, and roots of the plant. We did an experiment around how many seeds 5 different fruit varieties would have inside, then had fun disecting and counting up the plentiful seeds.
Here students from Mrs. Burchin's class open up green beans, grapes, and peppers to find out how many seeds are inside.
1st and 2nd grade students used the document camera to share how many seeds they found inside each fruit. The rest of the class compared the data with their original predictions. This sparked a great conversation about how being wrong about something is actually an opportunity to learn.
Meanwhile, third grade classes finished up their unit on systems. Each group created a system model showing how all the different organisms and other components within their habitat interact. We also discussed how disruptions caused by humans can impact the habitat on many levels and change how the web works. Third grade also had an opportunity to go out and see the compost. They couldn't believe inside the pile the temperature was a toasty 130 degrees!
Here third graders from Ms. Wilson's class create a model of a desert habitat. Later on they had to explore how the habitat would be impacted if humans built a reservoir in the middle of it.
In February, Fourth grade was hard at work studying seeds. First we learned about seed adaptations, and how these adaptations help the seeds travel and grow more plants. We broke into groups and each group created their own model seed that could travel by air, water, or animal.
Students from Ms. Delbiondo's class collaborating to create a seed that looks so good an animal will eat it.
These fourth graders created a seed in the shape of a bur that could travel by hooking onto a passing animal.
Another group puts their seed to the test by launching it into the air to see how long it will take to float back down.
Later on, we took a look at our stock of aging seeds and conducted germination tests. We put 10 seeds on a wet paper towel, slid that into a plastic bag and waited a couple weeks to see how many seeds would grow. When we uncovered their findings, we calculated the germination percentage and determined whether or not it would be worthwhile to keep using those seeds or if we should get new ones.
Placing the seeds on the wet paper towel to create the right conditions for germination.
Opening up those seeds a few weeks later to take a look and see how many germinated.
Fifth grade was hard at work studying cells last month. Classes had the opportunity to build their own plant cell out of recycled materials to help them review the different organelles and their functions.
And just this week we began tapping maple trees! We are a little on the late side, but have still been able to collect, taste and boil down some sap.
Fourth graders do a taste test comparing maple sap to maple sap that has been boiled down.
Even with all this fun, we still can't wait to get back outside and sink our hands into the soil! Until next time!
Winter Garden LessonsPosted by Alexi Bolton on 1/29/2020
This winter has been flying by, and we're already getting ready to order seeds and begin planning for spring! We've been keeping busy with plenty of projects and activities during our indoor classes, covering everything from compost to fossils!
Over the past month, students in Mill Road Primary have continued their learning about plants through sensory explorations of plants used in various cultures for healing, cleaning and calming. A favorite plant from this lesson was a segment of an aloe vera leaf! The kids had so much fun using their senses of touch and smell to explore it, marveling at the cool gel that's stored inside. We ended this lesson with a tea party, touching on how many cultures use tea as a way to get together with family or friends and relax. The students tasted mint tea with a touch of honey.
After this exploration of plants, we did some Reader's Theater. After reading a story from the perspective of food scraps who were wasted and thrown in the trash, we acted out the process of food traveling from its origins at the farm - -to their tragic end at the landfill. Below, Mrs. Chandler's class acts out the final scene of the leftover apples withering away in the landfill. But, fear not! Together we brainstormed another, happier ending for the food scraps: composting, of course!!
During our next lesson, we observed some special visitors from our vermicomposting bin. The students were blown away by our red wigglers and their tremendously important work! Many of our worms were named during that lesson, and others had fun tickling the hands of our students. We learned some interesting facts about how worms are both male and female, how they need to stay wet because they breathe with their skin and that it is a myth that an earthworm split into two will turn into two worms.
Over at Mill Road intermediate third graders have been learning about ecosystems. We began this unit by making our own plant fossils, discussing how fossils can teach us about the organisms and environments of long ago. Then we discussed how all the components of a habitat are interrelated; if you change one element, like climate, or remove one organism, the whole system is impacted.
Fourth graders have been learning about the food chain to extend what they are studying in Science. We played the food chain game where we acted out different organisms moving through the food chain by playing rock, paper, scissors to model the transferring of nutrients from organism to organism. We discussed the importance of decomposers and went out to watch our decomposers hard at work in our school's new compost bins.
Fifth grade has also had the opportunity to go out and see our new compost bins at work. We measured the temperature of our bin that is currently being filled and compared it with the temperature of the bin that is almost finished composting. Students were awe-stricken at the changes in smell, composition and temperature that occurs in little over a month. On a 28 degree day, our bin that is currently being filled was 120 degrees!
Cleaning Up and Moving IndoorsPosted by Alexi Bolton on 12/6/2019 3:30:00 PM
Snow came early this year, but we were ready! We spent the end of October doing the last of the harvesting. Our corn harvest was abundant and beautiful!
Here is Mrs. Flood's class harvesting the last of our carrots.
Once everything was harvested, we turned our attention to clearing the annual plants out of the garden beds and putting them into the compost pile. Here a fourth grade class is tugging on a particularly deep-rooted zinnia-
-and some second graders from Mrs. Eckert/Mrs. Berns' class having fun pulling out some stubborn tomato vines.
Once all the garden beds were clear, we spent some time sprinkling a cover crop over the freshly raked soil. Cover crops help protect our garden beds from erosion during the winter months! Below, a fifth grade class is completing an erosion experiment to test out what is the most effective method of protecting our garden beds: leaving them bare, adding mulch or planting a cover crop. We found that cover crops were the best method!
Once the garden was all cleaned up and ready for winter, third grade began a unit of cooking foods from around the world. We started out with Mexico, studying the traditional way tortillas are made from corn, then making them the speedy way by using masa harina (corn flour), water and salt.
We added the three sisters (corn, beans and squash) plus some cheese on as a topping.
Meanwhile, students in the primary school were learning about a Native American tradition of giving thanks to Mother Earth each morning. We made gratitude boxes and wrote down what things in the garden we were grateful for to put inside. I challenged students to try to add something to their gratitude box each day!
Many of us were grateful for the delicious foods we grow each season! That led us to a discussion of whole, or "every day" foods, versus processed or "once in a while" foods. We played The Good Food Game to help us practice recognizing the difference between each type of food.
Over the next couple of weeks, fourth graders will continue to learn about practices developed by Native Americans for gardening. Here, Ms. Bell's class is planning out their own garden, using the strategy of companion planting to make sure their plants grow big and strong.
And I will leave you with this beautiful picture of compost-to-be! Our aerated microbins are filling up with food scraps from the cafeteria, and we are proud to report we have reduced our cafeteria waste from about 24 bags of trash daily at the beginning of the year down to about 7 bags of trash. What a difference we can make, when we work together as a community!
Fall in the GardenPosted by Alexi Bolton on 10/4/2019
The Mill Road School Garden serves an important role in our students' education. It is a place to wonder and connect with nature, it's a place we can stretch our legs and enjoy the fresh air, and above all it's our outdoor classroom where we can channel our curiosity to help us explore and learn by doing. We have been so fortunate to have good weather this month, and have been enjoying our outdoor classroom as much as we can!
For their first lesson, K-2 students came out to the garden and observed all the changes that have taken place over the summer. We learned how to make scientific diagrams and created garden names to celebrate our love for plants!
We taste tested some cherry tomatoes and tried not to let the juices squirt all over! We also tried some cucamelons, this year's most adorable fruit!
On a very hot day, fourth graders sought shade under the ramada and looked at seed packets to devise a fall planting plan. We discovered that turnips and radishes grow really quickly and don't mind the cold!
Fifth graders have been learning about some of the challenges involved in growing organically. As gardeners we are scientists - we observed problems in the garden like leaves being eaten by bugs or animals, then each group made a hypothosis about how those problems might be fixed. After doing some research, they came up with plans which they presented to the class. We can't wait to try out some of their creative solutions during the next growing season!
On a very rainy day we learned about the Native American legend, the Three Sisters, and created some corn art out of clay!
And finally, we did some harvesting! We harvested corn and beans from our Three Sisters Garden...
...as well as potatoes, peppers and tomatoes!
It's been great to get back to the garden and get our hands dirty! We hope the nice weather holds out so we can keep learning outside well into the fall.
Adopt a Garden ProgramPosted by Alexi Bolton on 9/4/2019
School is back in session and the harvest season is around the corner! The Mill Road Garden is looking even more beautiful than the day we left it last June, and we are filled with gratitude for the families who took such good care of our garden over the summer.
Through our Adopt the Mill Road Garden Program, families can sign up to care for the garden for a week during summer break. This year we had every week of summer covered by a different family. During their week, families come by the garden several times to mow, weed, harvest and water, making sure our young plants have everything they need to continue their journey to adulthood.
We are truly grateful for the hard work these 9 families put in! Thanks to you our students will be able to dive right back into lessons (and taste tests!) this fall. We hope you made many beautiful memories this summer!
If you're interested in adopting the garden next summer, look out for the form we send out in June. If you're looking for other ways to get involved during the schoolyear, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to another fabulous year!
Animals in the GardenPosted by Alexi Bolton on 5/20/2019
The last two weeks we have had some extra special visitors in the garden! Through a partnership with the Dutchess County Agricultural Society, we have been able to bring in rabbits for the K-2 students and lambs for the 3-5 students to meet. During these lessons we learned what it means to care for these animals, how their products are used, and we've even met some former Mill Road School students who care for lambs now in 4H.
For the K-2 lesson, students listened to the story Peter Rabbit and then we broke off into groups. Some students began by getting a closer look at the rabbit while others did taste tests of the vegetables Peter ate in the story. On sunny days when we were in the garden, students got to do some gardening as well! We transplanted, weeded, mulched and seeded.
The upper school lesson was all about lambs and wool. We learned about how to care for lambs and what products we get from them. We even learned how in the early colonial days England refused to export wool to America, and that colonists had to learn to raise their own sheep and spin their own wool. Then we got to work with some raw wool from fully grown sheep, creating our own felted marbles.
Thanks so much to Cassie from the Dutchess County Agricultural Society for making this possible!
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