Involve children

Larry G. Field
Thursday, December 5, 2019
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I worked rotating 12 hours doing shift work for nearly 35 years. As such, I was off a fair amount of time during the normal work week. Most of the years that I had children and grandchildren in school I spent a good deal of time working with the schools and teachers, since I was frequently available during school hours (and

had a diversified science teaching certificate).

I have spent all of my life learning and teaching science, math and nature, both as hobby and profession. While my children attended Canyon Creek School, a few of the teachers and I developed a cross-curriculum program. I will address a couple of thoughts about cross-curriculum prior to getting into the heart of this article.

First, where does one curriculum end and another begin? If you are attempting to improve your garden soil are you performing geo-chemistry?, bio-chemistry?, botany?, agriculture?, horticulture?, nutrition?, ?, ?, ?, or all? Where does one discipline end or start? This is the logic we used in grade school. Next, how can you involve children/students in one program and limit their learning just to that program? Impossible! We would take about three

classes at a time on a walk/field trip from the school to Duck Creek

bridge. Normally all would be science teachers but back at the school other teachers would be involved. The math, English and grammar teachers would require a “Field Trip Paper” which would be graded according to their disciplines—everybody must be able to communicate in our society!

Each adult on the outing would provide a work-sheet of items to collect, observe, etc. including many sciences into the outing. In addition to requiring specimens to be collected/observed, such

as one of Montana’s official state gemstones, I would act as the

“go-for.” At the time, the barrow pits for most of the distance were

water-filled cattail swamps. I would jump in to catch snakes, frogs

and turtles for the “touch,” and tilt birds’ nests to show eggs and young, etc.

Involving children in gardening projects can stimulate interests and educate. I have included children in the July 11 and Nov. 14 issues. In this issue I will present a garden staking program that could involve art classes and teach some botany. During the winter one can prepare cut-out silhouettes (of uniform

height, I used 11”) of the veggies

that will be grown. You may be able to involve an art instructor/students to paint the silhouettes. Provide the cut and sanded veggie outlines, paint and a seed catalog of color pictures for the students use. Hand, let us say, the carrot silhouette, orange/green paint and the colored photo page from the seed catalog to one student and let the art work begin. Provide the most weather resistant paint you can find because your sprinklers will challenge the best paint.

When I did the above, I would build two templates each with two screw holes spaced 2”. The templates would be thin strips of scrap wood. One would have the upper hole 2” from the top and the other would have the upper hole 5” from the top. Using the smaller template I would align the tops of the stake and template and drill screw holes 2 and 4 inches from the top of a 1X2 stake. Using the longer template the holes would be drilled 5 and 7 inches from the top of the veggie cutout. I would drive the stake and partially attached veggie cutout (next paragraph) into the ap- propriate location in the garden. The silhouette, with 5 and 7 inch holes, would stand 3” above the stake, hiding the stake and leaving the veggie cutout to mark the row. With equal hole spacing, all stakes and silhouettes were interchangeable.

Because I have yet to grow a third hand, attaching the cutout to a vertical stake can be a challenge. Prior to driving the stake, on a work bench, I would loosely attach the two pieces at the bottom screw. Let the cut-out hang sideways, drive the stake, then turn the cut-out vertical and attach the upper screw, tightening both screws.

The finished garden would be a project that would make both Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor proud!

The Laurel Outlook


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