Squirrels, birds, and other little animals are wondrous creatures to observe in nature, but at the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) they can be considered pests that eat and destroy many of the plants. Since the discovery of agriculture, farmers have been combating these pests. Crows were the biggest crop offenders, eating so much of the farmer’s corn and wheat that their winter reserves would be vastly depleted. Close to 3,000 years ago these very farmers devised a safe way to protect their vegetation—scarecrows.
The first recorded scarecrow was created in ancient Egypt, which was used to protect wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail, according to historian Kathy Warnes’ historical website. In light of the rich history of scarecrows and their relation-ship to farming, Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman decided to host a Scarecrow Jubilee with PS 346’s students (grades 3-5). She split the festivities into three separate lessons; the first part involved explaining the diverse background of scarecrows from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan, Europe, and the United States. After the lesson, the students were given crayons to design their own scarecrows.
“The Roman scarecrow designs were my favorite,” said ten -year-old Shane Plaza, who thought it was interesting how the Roman’s designed their scarecrows after Priapus, the god of fertility, pro-tector of horticulture and viticulture.
The second part of the Scarecrow Jubilee was the creation of masks using papier-mâché. Roytman set up an informational table at the center of the UGC, where she showed the students how to make miniature masks. The children were given balloons to use as a sculpting base, and then they took turns dipping papier-mâché into water and molding it onto the balloons. Roytman told her classes that once the masks dry, they will use materials from the garden to decorate them.
The final part of the Scarecrow Jubilee was held at PS 346 because of the inclement weather. Roytman handed out the balloon masks and gave the students paint, lemon grass grown from UGC and plants to decorate their scarecrows. Many of the children enjoyed the lessons immensely because they were able to combine art with environmental science.
“I liked every part of the jubilee because we got to create our own scarecrows using papier-mâché. My favorite scarecrows in history were made by the Egyptians because it looked like a wooden person,” said nine-year-old Jaden Howard.
Photos by Amanda Moses