The outdoor classroom that was installed last spring at the Jesse Lee Day School is enjoying the fruits of its labors in the most literal sense!
Last May, seven large garden beds were built, each serving a different purpose for the preschool’s curriculum.
In June, preschool students planted seeds for the sunflowers, corn, beans, squash, watermelon, carrots, onions and lettuces. They also planted herbs and plants that attract butterflies.
This fall, those sunflower seeds grew to be 15 feet tall! And the students have enjoyed using the sunflowers for many experiments, and math manipulative in their classrooms. The corn, squash and beans flourished allowing for the students to learn why the Native Americans used the three sisters method for planting.
The carrots and onions overwhelmed us with its crop and the students loved getting to pull up their own carrot to take home! The herbs abundance have allowed for wonderful explorations of taste and smell for the students at Jesse Lee as well.
Following the first harvest of the fall, each student planted seeds for lettuces and radishes which are sprouting now and will be a part of each classes second round of harvesting in November.
One of the very favorite stations in the outdoor classroom is the sensory exploration center. It has been filled with all sorts of items found in nature of differing textures, such as pine cones, shells, pebbles and sea glass, along with plants that present feathery, waxy and soft textures.
The students are immediately drawn to this station each and every day, with stumps to sit at and study, and natural blocks and miniature bricks with which to build. The students also enjoy the exploration trays which allow for careful observation of the items of their choosing.
The garden committee of the Jesse Lee Day School have more exciting plans for the outdoor classroom, so this is only the beginning.