Dear GAP Families and Friends,
This year we are excited to be a part of your student's after school life. It is our hope to provide a space of exploration, creativity, and curiosity with the garden and natural spaces as our backdrop. This year you can expect us to dig deep into natural cycles from the seasons to seeds and from soil to the air around us. We'll leave no stone unturned (literally). We'll be getting our hands dirty, tantalizing our taste buds with recipes reflective of the season, and creating art inspired by the colors and sounds around us. Please know that we are respecting PPS's suggestion to not eat the food from gardens and will be using this topic to test soil, to understand that plants can help to clean soil, and that toxic soil is a global issue that affects everyone. If you ever have questions about what we are doing, please feel free to check-in. We will also be leaving a "Today We..." outside of the classroom door that will give you a few bullet points with insights to our day so that you have some talking points in the car, on your walk, or around the dinner table.
This week and next week we are working toward building our community, encouraging compassion, safety, and getting to know so many new faces (ours included) from all grade levels. Your student might tell you about "Ollyollyoxenfree" which is our attention-getter or they might share some of the guidelines we have worked to come up with together. This week we have also been reading stories, building fairy houses, and starting seeds. We are looking forward to getting to know our students better and building trust with both them and you. We are so thankful for the privilege of working with your students and encourage you to communicate with us about how you are incorporating the natural world into your home life so that we can bridge the larger garden community of the neighborhood together as well.
Thank you for transitioning into this new school year with us!
Millicent Zimdars, Ellen Payne, & Arielle Solomon
Spring continues to fly by in Garden class...we're soaking up as much fun and learning as we can before we part ways for the summer!
Week 6 we took a closer look at the importance and process of pollination, discovering more about who our local pollinators are. We played a hands on pollination game to explore how bees communicate and work together to support their communities. We also celebrated Cinco de Mayo in class with a batch of "Agua de Jamaica," which is a type of juice or infusion made from Hibiscus flowers, enjoyed in Mexico and areas of the Caribbean. We added in honey, to celebrate both aspects of pollination!
Week 7 our class focused on service learning projects in the garden, such as planting, weeding, and harvesting the abundance. We also began a larger project: building Mason bee houses for our backyards and school garden. Students started with a plain block of Fir, and worked hard to create functional and beautiful bee houses. Mason bees are a vital part of our local pollinator community, and as solitary bees are very gentle and non-territorial, making them the perfect pollinator to invite into our home gardens.
More info about Mason bees and caring for Mason bee houses can be found at the links below:
Week 8 we began a new, two-week project of creating our very own GAP cookbooks to take home and share with our families. Over the past year together, students have created a number of delicious recipes in class utilizing fresh, seasonal produce. Some of our class favorites, such as pea pesto and garden pickles will make this cookbook really special.
One last note - a quick reminder to GAP families: we will be having a short but sweet potluck on Wednesday, June 8th from 5-6pm. Students will be showcasing some homegrown and homemade garden snacks, and sharing some experiences from their time in GAP. Please join us!
Hello GAP families!
Happy May to everyone...I can't believe how fast Spring term is flying by. The past three weeks have been filled with hands on learning around indigenous foods, crafts, and storytelling, Earth Day celebrations, and an exploration of insects in the garden.
During week 3 we learned about some of the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest through traditional stories and myths, following characters such as Raven, Coyote, and Bear. We harvested and brewed Douglas Fir and Spruce tip tea, a traditional recipe that provided local peoples with vitamin C before citrus was introduced to the Americas. We closed our week together by cooking bannock bread (a sort of cross between a pancake and a scone) with local huckleberries.
Week 4 was possibly the most beautiful week of weather we've had yet this year, and in GAP we took full advantage of being outside as much as possible. Students created giant bubbles, and made fresh strawberry ice cream from scratch. We also talked about the meaning of Earth Day, and how each of us helps care for our whole community, including nature, animals--and our families and friends. On Earth Day we created a large poster that collected all of the ways we help take care of the earth, and hung it in the gazebo to help inspire the Abernethy community.
Week 5 began our exploration of the small but hugely important world of insects and pollinators! Students observed and sketched live ladybugs before releasing them in the garden to help keep harmful insects in check as the weather gets warmer. Students also created their own hypotheses about where the most insect life can be found on the grounds, and then investigated and took inventory of how many and what types of insects they found in each place. Hot spots of diversity included areas such as the compost bins, the herb garden, and some of the flowering trees.
This week we will be learning about the importance of pollinator populations and how they can help us support healthy ecosystems and local food.
One last bit of news: With only 6 more weeks before summer break, we are starting to plan a small end of the year celebration for GAP students and their families. We are looking at Wednesday June 8th from 5-6pm (the last day of school is Thursday June 9th). We hope you can join us for some delicious snacks and fun activities that let students share what they've done this year in GAP!
All the best,
I hope you've all had a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather these past two weeks! We've certainly enjoyed it in GAP, and have taken the opportunity to spend more time outside learning, playing, and planting in our garden.
Week 1: Week one of Spring term was all about the SUN...what it's made of, how it works, and how we can capture some of its energy here on Earth. We created solar art with photo-sensitive paper, and also built two solar ovens using recycled pizza boxes. Using our ovens and the power of the sun, we created our own crayons, and even made S'mores.
Week 2: We planted tomatoes, radishes, and carrots, and tended to our winter crop of sweet peas. On Wednesday we celebrated the sun with homemade lemonade, and on Thursday also celebrated the Harvest of the Month by cooking a delicious black bean recipe with guacamole.
Our theme for the first month of Spring term is valuing diversity, both cultural and ecological. Together we will be discussing and learning about how diversity in our various communities makes the whole system stronger, healthier, and more beautiful. Week 3 will be focused on learning more about the cultural and culinary traditions of indigenous peoples of the Pacific NW, while week 4 will delve into the importance of native plants and animals.
(Parents and students in class on Monday: Your tomato starts will need to sit in a sunny window inside until they have at least two large leaves, and/or until nighttime temps. are above 50 degrees consistently. This heirloom organic variety is called "Brandywine" and will yield large, sweet and juicy tomatoes. While seedlings are small they will need frequent watering, usually a bit every day. Once large enough, they can be planted outside in a sunny spot, either in a container or directly into clean soil....more info through the link: http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-non-gmo-seeds-brandywine-tomato.html)
Happy Spring term :)
The last few weeks of our winter term were filled with delicious recipes, creative projects, and explorations in the garden and grounds.
During week 9 we studied the life cycle of plants through observation and taste. We cooked our way from seed to fruit with five delicious recipes: roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted root veggies, kale chips, cauliflower popcorn, and banana bread.
Week 10 focused on a highlight of spring: flowering trees! We took a garden walk to identify some of the flowering trees at Abernethy: plums, pears, apples and more! Students observed the trees through taking a bark rubbing, and sketching the leaves and flowers of their favorite tree. Later in the week we discussed the function of flowers and collected samples to press for a project later this term.
Our last week before spring break the GAP students created their own project to celebrate spring in the garden: constructing a fairy and gnome village / "bug hotel" for the natural space behind the gazebo. Students put their amazing imaginations and creative problem solving to work to construct beautiful decorations to add to the magic of the garden. Using recycled, repurposed and found objects the GAP students worked together beautifully to make their vision a reality!
One piece of news we are very excited about in the GAP program is starting this Tuesday, March 29th, we will have a new educator joining the GAP team. Hannah Maurer is an educator who brings passion and experience in outdoor and experiential learning to our community.
Look for more spring fun in our new Garden of Wonders Instagram account, where this sweet Fairy Garden photo below appears!
I'm here with an update and photos from the past three weeks in GAP. We have been cooking and eating, sowing seeds, prepping our raised beds, and getting ready for SPRING!
During week 6, our theme was "spring ahead," and was a week filled with planting starts: snap peas, kale, borage, lettuce, and more! We finished out the week Friday with a new favorite recipe: Pea pesto on crostini.
Week 7 our theme was "will it waffle?" Students collaborated in our GAP kitchen to create a quick berry jam, which we used to top whole grain oat waffles. On Thursday we made delicious cheddar and chive savory waffles. On Friday students put their artistic skills to work designing signs for our garden!
This past week, with the initial positive reports back about the soil tests, we finally spent some time back in the GAP garden (using precautions such as gloves, handled tools, plus new organic potting soil in the raised beds from a nursery). Students worked hard to put in the last of our three raised beds, and found many worms and other invertebrates hard at work! On Thursday and Friday we created wildflower "seed bombs" with clay, organic compost, and wildflower seeds to help support pollinators in our garden. Seed bombs are a great way to garden with kids, as it requires nothing more than making and throwing mud pies! With the rain this week, our garden should be blooming in no time :)
All the best,
In weeks 4 & 5, students delved deeper into the themes of animal adaptations, ecosystems, and habitats. Students explored diverse habitats, with an emphasis on the unique temperate forests of the pacific northwest. As a group we investigated why and how features such as feathers, fur, claws, beaks, talons, etc. help animals to adapt to their unique environments.
In week 5, students created individual "shoebox habitats" (using clay as well as natural and other found materials) for an animal of their choosing. Students either chose an existing animal, or used their imaginations to create a new animal, explaining how and why their animal adapted to their particular habitat. It was amazing to see the depth, creativity, and hard work students put into their projects!
Over the coming weeks we will be spending more time in our garden plots, measuring, planning, planting starts, and getting ready for the magic of the growing season. 🌱
All the best,
Hello GAP families,
Here is a quick update of what we've been up to over the past two weeks:
Week 2 -
Our theme for the month of January is the garden in winter. We kicked off week 2 by taking a closer look at winter weather, from how it forms to how it affects the earth around us. Students shared their knowledge about weather patterns, as we learned more about clouds and precipitation through fun, hands-on experiments! We created our own rain clouds in jars to observe how moisture condenses and then falls as rain, and also created our own fog to study what happens as warm and cool air mix. Also back by popular demand: quick pickles!
Week 3 -
This week we continued our theme of winter in the garden by shifting from weather in week 2, to looking at how plants have adapted to survive winter conditions. Our time together was spent focusing on observing, cooking, and tasting different root vegetables and talking about the vital role they play in providing food and other essential services to humans, animals, and the ecosystem during the winter. Students taste-tested beets, carrots, yacón, and radish and created a shaved root veggie salad. On Thursday we also created our own ink from red beets, and used the ink on Friday to create drawings of root structures, as well as playing with potato stamps.
Best wishes, and hope you're all getting to enjoy the SUN :)
Hello GAP families,
Although the icy weather made this week shorter than usual, we made the most of our three days together:
To start 2016 and winter term off right, we began by making a "wishing tree" that we hung in the garden. Students shared the highlights of their holidays, and we reflected on what we all wanted to bring into our lives in the new year. Students then wrote their wishes (both for the garden, and in life in general!) and hung them up in the garden to share.
On Thursday and Friday we cooked two traditional new year recipes: Vietnamese salad rolls, and homemade corn bread! Even in January we discovered fresh herbs hiding out in the garden...we hunted for mint to roll up with carrots, cucumbers, basil and rice noodles.
Looking forward, in January we will be wearing our science caps: focusing on hands-on activities and exploration of weather systems, and the survival of plants and animals in the winter garden, including adaptations, evolution, and natural v. artificial selection in plants!
Hello GAP families~
I hope you've all had a happy and restful holiday full of family, friends and delicious food! I apologize for the lateness of these updates, but hope you'll still enjoy the photos and a little look back at how we spent the last two weeks of fall term together.
The end of fall term was focused on sharing our gifts with each other and our families. These gifts included food, art, found natural objects, and handmade crafts. We shared our different winter traditions and celebrations, and spoke about the current and traditional importance of the winter solstice to humans, animals, and the garden.
As we begin our winter term together, we will take the opportunity to celebrate a new year and setting our plans and intentions for this years garden. This will include taking a closer look at seeds, planning our crop rotations, and watching the weather and patterns in the garden as we get closer to spring.
I also want to personally send a big thank you to all of the GAP students and families that make this such an incredible program. It has been a joy to get to know everyone and to become a part of the Abernethy community over the course of the term. I am excited to start the new year together, and for all of the experiences it will bring!
All the best,