Thursday, April 21, 2011

The time is NEAR .... our plant sale ! !!!!

The kids have been busy as bees planting in the garden and tending to the greenhouse plants!  Our plant sale is next week, Friday from 8-4 at our school and Saturday on Southwest Drive from 8-12. 

We are proud to announce the birth of our very first baby chicks from our hen and rooster, Fred and Ethel.  They were born during our latest storm so their names are Thunder and Lightening !  Stay tuned to pictures soon !

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Nature's Wedding
When cold air
and warm air kiss,
It makes a BOOM called Thunder.

Eventually they had a wedding
where they hired a well know band called Rain.

So whenever Thunder sounds
Be bold and stand your ground
For it's only Nature's Wedding.

Lucy - HWES fifth grade

Nature Inspires

Below is a poem written by our very own fifth grade student, Lucy.

Nature's Wedding

When cold air
and warm air kiss,
It makes a BOOM called Thunder.

Eventually they had a wedding
where they hired a well know band called Rain.

So whenever Thunder sounds
Be bold and stand your ground
For it's only Nature's Wedding.

Lucy (fifth grader)
Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goodbye Old Man Winter !

We are so ready to say "goodbye" to Winter. I believe there is some jealousy among the plants in our garden. Our Veggie Garden houses the raised beds where the students have planted radish, onion, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, zinnia and herbs. Our greenhouse is in the back of the garden with lots and lots of new sprouts getting ready for our plant sale at the end of April. I really think I heard the raised bed plants wishing they were in the greenhouse this week with 40 degrees of temperatures and I think I heard the greenhouse plants giggling and bragging about their warm and toasty home ! We are hopeful that every plant will be much happier by the weekend !

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break for students but not for the greenhouse and gardens.

As of today, we are officially on Spring Break.  Luckily, I live 7 minutes from the school and no out of town plans so I can keep the watering going in the greenhouse and raised beds.  I will feel the hurt of loosing 600 helpers at any given moment that I have at my disposal !  The kids planted potatoes and wrapped up planting some more starter plants in the greenhouse .
We also set our plant sale date for April 29th and 30th.  This will be our 2nd annual school plant sale.  We also have two other events where we will load up our plants.  We are invited to our community's Health Fair that is sponsored by one of our local hospitals.  We will set up a booth of our plants and the students will also do cooking demonstrations for the crowd.  The event is held in our town's university's indoor stadium and attracts thousands of  visitors.  We will also participate in our community's Earth Day celebration. Again, we will set up a plant sale booth and our students will display projects from our recycle art fair.  BUSY TIME OF THE YEAR !

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seed Tape and a grasshopper

We took our first stab at using seed tape !  Our 2nd graders planted two 4 x 8 raised beds with the theme of Salad Garden using seed tape of onion, carrots, lettuce and radish.  The seed tape we used was "store bought".  Planting small seeds with a large group of children was so much more manageable and time affective!  Seed tape in the long run will be too expensive for us to purchase every year but I found a great site that gives instructions on how we can make our own.  It is a great rainy day activity and can be used to hone measuring skills.

We were blessed with sunshine Friday and were able to get strawberries, zinnias, our salad beds and sunflower seeds in the ground !  The sweetest comment came from one of our 2nd grade girls:  " I sure wish I was a grasshopper that lived out here".  It is a treat to get hear the kids' conversations with each other when they are working in the garden !

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Busy Little Greenhouse

I can't think of anything more peaceful than working in a greenhouse.  It is just something about the the smells and the witnessing of seeds pushing through the soil that creates a recipe for peace....even with  a greenhouse full of kids.  Our school's greenhouse is 12 foot by 18 foot so about 10 kids is the max we can handle and get work done.  Students will give up their recess time just to have time in the greenhouse.  I can even get them to give up recess time to clean out the chicken coop and be HAPPY to do so! 

We are a little behind on planting in the greenhouse and our garden beds.  If the rain will hold off next week, we are going to get serous about getting lettuce, radishes, carrots, and onions in our beds.  Our youngest grade in our building is first graders.  It is difficult for that age to manipulate small seeds when planting in the raised beds so I am going to experiment by having them plant with seed tape.  The older students can be more easily taught about depth and spacing so the regular sowing of seed works well with them.

Our two rabbits, Oreo and Leon,  have been roaming free in one of our other courtyards.  There are no veggies planted there but we do have blueberry bushes, jonquils, ivy and rose bushes.  New buds and growth have been popping up this week and the rabbits are reeking havoc.   Next week we will have a bunny catching class to relocate them in a nice roomy cage.  They will return back to their courtyard next Fall.    The students and staff thoroughly enjoy seeing them roam free in the courtyard ! 

We will be posting pictures soon of our new relocated garden beds !

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Veggie Garden Renovation

Our Veggie Garden has 10 existing 4 feet x 8 feet raised beds.  We are in the process of realigning the beds to accommodate 4 new beds.  Pavers will be laid between and around each bed to help keep grass out.  We are excited about the new growing space that will be added.  Our friends, Jim Long, and Renee Shepard , , are helping us brew up the magic that will be growing in them soon!.

We have a local artist that is going to work with our students on painting signs that label objects in all three of our outdoor classrooms.  We want to create a vocabulary rich environment for our students.  The gardens provide lots of opportunity for vocabulary development !  We will post pictures soon ! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

kids in the greenhouse

This will be our second year growing from seed in our school greenhouse.  All 500 plus of our students will plant something that will be sold at our 2nd Annual Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School Plant Sale !  A great deal of Arkansas is considered rural with an abundance of farm land.  Most would think our kids are exposed to the outdoors because of being in a rural/farming area.  Our school is located in the town of Jonesboro, which has the population of 67,000.  A large percentage of our students live in apartment complexes and subdivisions that limit opportunities to grow their own gardens and more sadly, to even have the opportunity to play in a yard, dig in the dirt or climb a tree. 
In Richard Louv's book Last Child in The Woods, he notes that today's children are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Their experiences in the outdoors are limited for several different reasons.  In a sense, they are robbed from an education that nature provides.   I found this to be true when working in our school gardens and greenhouse.  It was hard for me to fathom seeing children that didn't know how to dig in the dirt.  It was foreign to them.  One day I took a group a kids that were 8 and 9 year olds to the greenhouse to do some planting of seeds in flats.  As soon as we walked in, a little boy inhaled deeply smelling the smells of the greeenhouse and said "awwwww dirt !", like I would say "awwww fudge brownies!".
This is our third year to have a school garden in raised beds and our second year to grow in the greenhouse.  It is surreal to garden with kids.  They discover.  They ask questions.  They learn.  There are wonderful educational tools and authors that are tapping into creating educational literature and activities that teachers can use to teach science, math, social studies and language arts skills in the garden.   
Our school is very unique to have created three outdoor classrooms from existing courtyards that were not being utilized.  We have taken it a step further by creating a student kitchen from our former cafeteria kitchen. We have found that kids are much more willing to taste something that they have grown.

We will happily be busy working in the greenhouse trying to get a jump start on Spring !  We will keep you posted on what pops up.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Garden Clean Up

We have taken advantage of a few beautiful days to clean up the gardens. While doing so,  we noticed new sprigs of mint popping up and the tips of our tulips and jonquils pushing through the soil !  Next week we are going to tackle a major reorganization of the greenhouse.  Big job, but big fun !

Monday, January 17, 2011

digging potatoes

Gardening and Cooking with children in school

Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  The school serves 580 students in grades 1st- 6th.  We are unique in the fact that we have fully equipped student kitchen, three outdoor classrooms featuring an outdoor kitchen, vegetable garden, sensory garden and "critter" courtyard.  Our journey began 4 years ago when our district transformed our elementary schools into themed schools.  Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies (HWES) goal was to create a garden to kitchen theme to promote a hands on approach to educating our students. 

This blogging adventure is from the suggestion of a new friend, Jim Long.  Our blog will be an on going learning process and project of our Gifted and Talented students in grades 3rd-6th.  They will be posting our garden and kitchen news and pictures from our school.  Join us as we take our journey through our school gardens !  Come grow with us !