I spent an hour on Wednesday afternoon playing in the dirt with 24 first grade students. It was a lot of fun. A few weeks ago I was put in contact with with this first grade teacher because she was hoping to start using a classroom garden to help teach her classroom about plants and food. I’ve been really honored to help out. When I met up with the class yesterday the kids were all really excited to be able to plant a garden and watch things grow. The excitement was contagious. They were really excited to be able to “play in the dirt” and “grow watermelons!”

The class was split into 4 groups so that we would be able to manage the kids a bit easier. Each group rotated in order to be able to do a coloring activity, start some seeds in paper cups inside, clean up and turn soil in a bed, and plant strawberries, onions, and peas.  Over the next few weeks we will be planing some lettuce greens, spinach, carrots, and radishes.  Then before the kids go home for summer break we will plant out our warm season crops.  We still have some details to work our, as in how people will rotate through helping maintaining the beds through the summer, and how the harvests will be shared by the class, but those solutions will come.  Ideally, as the kids move into second grade the harvest will be used to teach about healthy eating.  I think it would be a really cool way for students to be excited about entering the second grade.

We worked with the kids for about an hour, which isn’t a lot of time, when you consider the time it takes to turn some soil, plant seeds, and shuffle kids around.  On top of the time constraints we had to manage kids with shovels digging in the same spot where other kids are grabbing at worms in the soil.  Fortunately, we were able to finish the day with all finger in tact.  This is a new undertaking for the teacher, so there is a lot that we need to figure into the curriculum, however, excitement is one thing that is not lacking.  Next Wednesday I’ll join the class agian for another hour of gardening fun, now we just need to figure out what to do in that hour.

Any ideas?