Our project was the culmination of several inquiries that the students had come up with. Our kindergarten class was very interested in learning about and growing plants. We were learning about perennial and annual plants and watching videos about how bulbs grow. When we learned about bees, the students gained an appreciation for the job that bees (and other pollinators) do. Ultimately, we chose to create two gardens, a pollinator one and a Three Sisters garden. The pollinator portion was to promote a place for bees and butterflies to visit. The Three Sisters garden was inspired by the school’s Indigenous community. The garden would be a place for the class to visit on a daily basis, to learn how to care for plants, see how plants grow, and get an appreciation for a sustainable way of life.
Our project began as we were learning about plants – learning about annuals vs. perennials – and the lifecycle of plants. The students showed an interest in planting their own seeds to see what would happen. We talked about what we could and should plant if we had a garden of our own, and how we could promote sustainability by having a garden provide a source of food that we could cultivate ourselves. We first experimented by planting beans in three different mediums, in soil, wet paper towel, and in wet cotton balls. We talked about what seeds need to grow and we were able to see firsthand which medium would provide the greatest chance of success. We showed that for plants to grow we need nutrients and those come in soil and from other plants. We also learned that for food to grow, plants need to be pollinated, and we learned about the importance of bees.
We then decided to try and make two gardens of our own. We chose a pollinator garden because we wanted to make sure that our friends the bees had a place to visit and help grow other plants. We also wanted to have some butterflies visit our garden, so we planted lavender, echinacea and sunflowers. Our second garden was a Three Sisters garden, inspired by our Indigenous community. The three sisters, corn, beans, and squash, are representative of centuries of Indigenous agricultural traditions. The three plants, when planted together, help each other thrive. The choice of these three plants also provide a very balanced and complete diet.
Reflection & Celebration
The students have gained a real appreciation of not only the work required to build and maintain a garden, but also an understanding of the joy that a garden can bring when they are able to see the results of all their work.
Over time, the students began to show great interest in maintaining the garden – watering, cleaning, adding nutrients. They would always want to visit and do a little bit of work, and at the same time, admire how our seeds were sprouting, how some of our larger plants were growing, and seeing some flowers starting to appear. They would celebrate when they noticed a bee or a butterfly visiting the garden.
Overall, the garden provided a great way for the students to engage in and learn about sustainability and growing our own food.