Brightly colored flowers were in full bloom as PS 119 students, eager to learn more about living things, attended one of the first outdoor classroom lessons of the spring season at the Serenity Community Garden Thursday, April 14.
Their teacher, Yolanda Fields, brought students from her class to the garden at 4402 Avenue L to meet the founders, Paul and Nebert Jackson, and Shari Rose, associate director for environmental education at the CityParks Foundation Learning Center Program.
“What are the six parts of a plant?” Rose asked. The students, who were seated in a circle around her, raised their hands impatiently as they called out their answers one by one. Rose engaged them further by explaining the function of each part of a plant as she held up picture cards of the root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit and seed.
The Learning Gardens school day program is for students in grades 1-8 in select elementary schools. Bi-weekly classes take place at 9am and 10am from April 13 to June 17. The program aligns with New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards and helps children understand the importance of community gardens with what is described as “hands-on, experiential learning” as they explore the science of the ecology of living things in an immersive environment. learning environment.
The students interacted with their environment and each other by researching different elements of the garden from the images given to them. They searched for insects, flowers and plant parts they had heard about earlier.
In another activity, they gained an understanding and appreciation of a raised flower bed filled with plants that looked like weeds, but were much more than meets the eye. The instructor identified the type of plant they were looking at and explained its uses as well as the role of insects on the ground and in the air around them. Later, they gathered in a circle to play a game called “Where the Wind Blows”. The learning was not only interactive, but memorable and fun.
Upcoming classes will include lessons on food chains, insects and living animals, healthy eating habits, community stewardship, weather and climate, and more. Students will make garden signs to decorate the fence surrounding the property and bring plants home on their last day of class. To learn more about the program, co-sponsored with funds from Councilor Farah Louis’ office, visit cityparksfoundation.org/learning-gardens/