The 5th graders engaged in some hard work, service, and observation this week. We began our second Botany block by walking out to the grassy field to visit our trees, and to observe them at this early Spring time. Many trees have buds beginning to grow, while some are still dormant from our long and cold winter.
The 5th graders visited each classmate’s tree, helped to pick up garbage from the field, and made close-up sketches of a branch of their tree to show the buds.
Ms. Kiefer and I are collaborating to integrate work in the school garden into this Botany block. Ms. Kiefer visited us on Tuesday morning and told a story about her observations in the woods of Wisconsin when she was a child. She brought an imaginative vision of forest layers, and highlighted the shrub layer, which was what the 5th graders would be planting on that day. She gave directions and told the 5th graders about the seedlings that they would be planting in our school’s food garden: raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, loganberries, currants, and also a small apple tree. We then went outside to dig and plant the seedlings. We were blessed with beautiful, sunny weather! I was so impressed by the 5th graders’ work ethic. We’ll watch these shrubs grow with great anticipation for the delicious berries that we will get to sample!
On Wednesday, the 5th graders reviewed the previous Botany block (the first of the year!), and specifically revisited the parts of a flowering plant. They completed a long dictation about the life cycle of a flowering plant, and edited their own writing for spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
On this day, we reviewed the previous day’s learning about conifers by visiting some conifers across the street from the school. They 5th graders noticed the branch structure, sap, needles, and cones. I taught the 5th graders how to make a bird feeder out of toilet paper roll pieces, so that they could lead the activity with the 1st graders. Then in period 2, we went to the 1st grade classroom and met our buddies. It is hard to describe the transformation I saw right away in the 5th graders. They were kind, helpful, and so sweet with the younger children! I think it was really good for them to step up and be role models.
We celebrated the Festival of Rebirth by going out into the community. We visited the seniors at Barton Senior Residences, down the street from the school. The children shook hands with them and introduced themselves. Then they sang our school song, and the Seed Song. We gave them the bird feeders and hung them outside of the building for them. The seniors were just delighted to have us! I am hoping to return soon to spend time with them and hear their stories.
We left the senior residences and walked over to Arrigo Park, just outside of our old school building. The 5th and 1st graders had snacks together, and then played and explored the park together. We saw many signs of spring, from new grass to buds on the trees. After playing for a while, we returned to school. The 5th graders walked with their 1st grade buddies and helped to keep them safe while walking along busy streets. It was a really wonderful day.
It was a beautiful week, with a lot of time spent outdoors digging, planting, walking and observing. I hope everyone has a wonderful Spring Break!