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Monday, May 24, 2010 8:28 AM -0400
SubjectRiverside School Garden- Outdoor Classrooms 
Outdoor Classrooms at Riverside School
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Welcome to our garden!   We have the following garden-based education projects going on:
a 65 x 35 instructional organic garden that is mostly curriculum driven
It has a five-foot deep "beneficial border" containing plants that provide services to the rest of the garden like discouraging deer and attracting pollinators.
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Teachers state their needs of garden space each year, and we plant:
a bed of potatoes for the third graders reading Stone Fox,
a bed of flowers in the rainbow pattern for first graders,
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a three sisters garden of corn, beans and squash for the fourth graders, etc.


• a boxed, named herb garden with a map and description of culinary and medicinal herbs. 
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The children learn safety lessons here (identification rules, how to pick without damaging the plant) and may pick, smell and taste anything in the boxes.  Third graders study and draw from it for colonial herb identification.

• a butterfly garden that contains all the needed plants for black swallowtails, which go through several life cycles here per season, and the caterpillar fodder for Monarchs and nectar plants for lots of other butterflies. 
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• a drought tolerant border

which was planted to see what plants tolerate the "oven" between the driveway and parking lot as well as salt from snow plowing and very poor soil.   There are actually quite a few.

• a math garden
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where children set up a coordinate grid, have lessons in area, perimeter, volume, factor pairs, measurement, figuring out equidistance, estimating and eyeballing.  Then they plant mostly basil and we have a pesto making party in September using our own basil and garlic.

a memorial flower garden.
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• a new area that second graders planted in a cover crop
and learned about improving the soil with nitrogen-setting vetch.  This gets a winter rye crop in October and will be ready in spring for beans, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins. 

Finally, we have discovered several methods of composting that children can do with very little help.  Second graders collect cafeteria waste.
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This garden is all about teaching in authentic settings and using the outdoors to make curriculum come alive.  Teachers have found creative ways of using the space now that it exists.  And kids who need space and physical activity to learn do very well here.  The Occupational Therapist is out there often with our students who have autism.  The children are free to pick, explore and run around as long as they keep their feet out of beds.