Spring has taken off in full bloom and it has caught us in a fever. With spring fever in full effect, I decided to begin a Garden group. More daylight and warmer weather has left us with the desire to be outside longer and more often than in the winter months. Seeing pleas change from ‘inside’ to ‘I want to stay outside’ echoed from child to child so one day I asked,
“Who wants to stay outside and get their hands dirty?”
The children then gathered around me in the front yard. As an important part of any small group we began with some movement songs and exercises. This signifies the beginning of our time together and creates cohesion among our group. Since we were all outside we quickly moved into a stretch circle and every child led a stretch for the group to copy. After we got out our excited energy we sat down and I went over some basic rules for safety. This is an essential part of garden group because there are more safety concerns out of the classroom and it is important for the class to agree upon the rules and take part in owning them as part of garden group. Being the first group meeting we started with understanding tools. I had a box with all the tools we use in garden group and went over each one then passed them around explaining the safety rules when using them.
For example, I pulled out a large garden rake and said, "This is a rake and used for moving things around on top of dirt. If we hit or throw this we can break this tool. It can be used on the dirt, but not on people's bodies.”
Next we moved to the the big raised beds in the front of the school. I began by going over what these raised beds are for. The class was soon in agreement we do not step, run, jump or dance in the beds. The raise beds help plants by giving them more protection and space to grow BIG. We then went over questions.
A said, “How do you use this?” M said, “You have to be gentle because the plants can die.” W said, “Is this deep enough?”
From these questions our conversation turned towards what plants need to survive. Once all our inquiries seemed to be satisfied, I explained we would be preparing the raised beds today. That meant we would need to weed and add more soil and then if we had time we could plant some seeds.
The work went quick as we all grabbed a tool and set to renewing our beds. Each gardener was so intent and focused on their work that we only had words to trade tools or admire beauty around us. When we got to sowing seeds we all huddled around to study the different shapes and sizes of seeds. You could see in the eyes of every child that the magic of gardening had taken hold. This feeling will only continue to grow and deepen as garden group and Summer become a regular part of Tumbleweed culture.