BY AMANDA MOSES
Bright orange leaves, a crisp breeze billowing throughout Spring Creek Towers’, and the occasional rain showers are a few of the signs of autumn. While the leaves slowly fall off the pear trees and butterfly bushes wither from the cold in the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC), there are plenty of blossoming perennials and vegetation to observe.
In the afternoons, members of the Spring Creek After School Program visit the UGC with the hope of spotting pollinators, harvesting vegetables and herbs, and observing various seasonal changes. Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman invited the pre-kindergarten classes to harvest herbs and to make small bouquets to take home. The students collected oregano, thyme, rosemary, and lavender.
Each of these items smelled delicious and looked like tiny bouquets. The children were even excited to see a few butterflies collecting nectar because Roytman told the class that these beautiful pollinators will be migrating to Mexico for the fall and winter.
Roytman also met with the Spring Creek After School Program’s kindergarten students just before Halloween on a dreary rainy day. The class was held at PS 346, where Roytman decided to base her garden lesson on a spooky pump-kin story, narrating a classic tale by Linda Williams, “The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything.”
The children sat in their class-room on top of a plush rainbow colored carpet, listening intently to the ghostly tale. Roytman said, “Once upon a time, there was a little old lady who was not afraid of anything. She left her cottage one day to collect herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds in the forest. It then became dark out, and when the sun goes down, what comes up in the sky at night,” Roytman said to the students. The children smiled and replied gleefully, “The moon and stars!”
Roytman continued the tale, requesting that the students act out some of the parts. She said when the little old lady walked back home she saw a floating pair of shoes that said, “clunk, clunk.” The kindergartners proceeded to stomp their feet to which Roytman narrated, “Get out of my way you two big shoes, I’m not afraid of you.”
The story proceeded with a pair of pants that went “wiggle, wiggle,” a shirt that made the sound, “shake, shake,” two white gloves that went “clap, clap,” a tall black hat that said “nod, nod” and then a huge pumpkin head shouted, “Boo!”
The little old lady told each item, “I’m not afraid of you!” But she still rushed back home to her cottage. As she sat in her home on her comfortable rocking chair, a loud knock resounded throughout the house. Roytman proceeded to knock on one of the wooden chairs in the classroom. The children all stared at her with wide eyes as to what creature would be knocking on the door. “I’m the little old lady who is not afraid of anything,” Roytman exclaimed. She then said that the little old lady opened the door to see the floating objects attempting to scare her once more.
As Roytman recited the protagonist’s catchphrase, the students also repeated it, “I am not afraid of you!” The little old lady told the creature she knew what they could do to be scary—become a scarecrow in her garden.
Roytman then explained to the class that scarecrows are not just creepy figures we learn about on Halloween; they help scare away birds and other animals that try to eat the vegetation growing the gar-den. The students were so enthrall-ed with the tale that Roytman asked them to draw their favorite object, and some drew scarecrows and pumpkins.
Photos by Amanda Moses and Jacqui Roytman