Thursday, 20 November 2014
At Armitage we were given some bamboo and holly by a parent who works at a garden centre. We weren't quite sure what to do with them. Then the School Business Manager said that people were jumping over the short fence in the car park to make a short cut to the entrance. So, Reception children have created an obstacle which is working so far.
Planting these was relatively easy. Dig hole, put tree in, fill hole and tread on the soil to firm the plant in. A good activity for a cold day.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
I've found that children love to play the A-Z of gardening. Get everyone in a circle and explain the rules. Children will take it in turns to say a word that has something to do with gardening or plants. It could be a plant, a tool, an activity, anything. The first person has to think of something beginning with "A", the second with "B" and so on. If they can't think of anything they can ask a friend, maybe two. Children with limited English could say something in their language. The aim is to see how far the group can get through the alphabet. Or you could make it competitive where people have to drop out if they can't think of anything.
After one game at Ravensbury, a Year 5 girl said she would come back the next week with something for each letter of the alphabet. And she did.
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Bulbs will grow in planters,in the soil and many will do perfectly well planted in small pots. Children love to plant one in a pot and take it home for the window sill.
Friday, 26 September 2014
Monday, 21 July 2014
It works much better outside and thrives in even the coldest winters. In fact I've heard it said that the cold helps to split the initial seed clove so that it forms a bulb containing different cloves. Then it just sits there over the winter and is ready to harvest in the the last half term of the year. Harvesting is good fun, requiring a bit of digging until the pungent bulbs can be lifted out. It's also a plant that virtually all cultures use in their cooking and can provide a good opportunities for children to share how their families use it.
Friday, 4 July 2014
We lined the pallet with thick plastic sheeting and filled it with compost. We're going to plant climbers such as clematis or runner beans in it.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Children in the Nursery at Armitage put 3 seed potatoes in a large plastic bag and we got a good crop. They loved digging up the potatoes.
Thursday, 5 June 2014
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Some people start to get worried when children and sharp things come into close contact but I'm all for helping children learn how to use things safely. Some cultures just let kids loose with machetes and knives from an early age but I do like a bit more control than that.
I've had overwhelmingly positive experiences of showing people how to use tools and then supervising them closely while they do it themselves. A colleague at Armitage primary likes to say how children whose behaviour is often pretty poor in the classroom suddenly become little angels when they have control of a dangerous tool, probably out of fear of having it taken away from them. One of the best users of a pruning saw I've seen is a 11 year old girl from Slovakia who maintained her grandmother's apple tree back home.
For me the golden rules are: make sure they understand where the dangerous bit is, show them how to use it safely, ensure they can actually use the tool properly and then stay with them to spot any danger signs.
Sunday, 25 May 2014
At Ravensbury we have a session for parents once a week just after they have dropped their children off at school. In a diverse area like this it has been really interesting hearing people's experiences of gardening and growing food in other countries. I've learnt a lot as well as helping people develop new skills and just having a nice time for an hour.
Harvesting winter crops has generated some interesting moments as well. At St Chrysostoms we picked a lot of chard leaves and gave these away to parents. At one point I was with 4 women:from Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and China, all clamouring for the chard and sharing stories about how they cooked it and grew it back home.
Friday, 28 March 2014
I've, well the children have, planted a lot of bulbs this winter. I'd never bothered much with bulbs but this has been a bit of a revelation. They're incredibly easy, even for very young children and while you're just starting to plant seeds for the summer, they are really coming through, giving a lot of early colour in the garden. They have really made a big impression with children and parents.
Sunday, 23 February 2014
This autumn has been the first time I've really planted a lot of bulbs.
One of the parents at a school where I work works at a garden centre and has been kind enough to drop off loads of bulbs that had gone slightly past their sell by date. We've had hundreds of daffodils, tulips but the big hit has been hyacinths, forced so that they will grow in the depths of winter.
They seem to be pretty foolproof and can be grown in very small pots with very little compost. You can also cram a few into a slightly bigger pot for a more impressive display. They seem to flower in early January and although I've seen complicated instructions about keeping them in the dark, most of ours have flowered sitting on a windowsill.
I often find that children forget the names of plants they're not familiar with, but this one's easy to remember. Imagine you've got a friend called Cynth who you bump into in the street "Hiya Cynth!".
One boy with whom I work has significant social and emotional difficulties and often finds it difficult to focus and concentrate on tasks but he has become devoted to his hyacinth. The TA who works with him created this activity sheet which they have filled in most days.
This is an activity for all ages, most Nursery children will manage it easily enough and the plants make lovely presents to take home.