School is back in session, and PS 346’s third grade class is spending their science period in the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). “This is the first time the students are stepping into the garden since June,” said Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman. To help refresh their memory, Roytman asked the students to tell her about the garden, such as what grows there and what type of insects could be found in the UGC.
The group of children sat at their designated tables and raised their hands enthusiastically to answer Roytman’s question. One student said that plants grow in the garden, starting off as a seedling first. Another student said worms and spiders live in the garden. “The garden is nature, and we are the guests of all those living here: the plants, insects, birds, squirrels… The garden is a wonderfully beautiful place and I will show you how amazing it is,” Roytman said.
Making observations and recording them in a notebook is one of the most important skills to have when conducting scientific experiments. Roytman’s first lesson of the school year focused on improving the children’s observational skills and building their vocabulary with a scavenger hunt. “Welcome, everyone, back to the garden. Today we are going to do a scavenger hunt, which will require your knowledge of the garden and very sharp observational skills. We are going to walk around the garden, describe what we see and draw pictures that match our scavenger categories,” said Roytman as her assistant, Ben Randazzo, handed out worksheets filled with vocabulary building questions, such as what type of vegetation is fragrant, odorless, multicolored, smooth, rough, edible or inedible. The worksheet was entitled “Our Garden is…”
The students dispersed into various parts of the UGC sniffing the plants, touching the vegetables and examining the wildlife. A few students found several insects that enjoyed the damp dark shelter of a tree stump, while others noticed that butterflies relished bright colored flowers. Eight-year-old Trenton Avery held a small eggplant in his hands and said: “It’s odorless, purple and is smooth. It’s also edible!”
After the students recorded their observations, many of them were sad that the class had to conclude. Roytman promised that during their next lesson, they would help harvest and plant vegetables.
Photos by: Amanda Moses