Students bloom with Learning Garden
- Subject: [cg] Students bloom with Learning Garden
- From: Don Boekelheide <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 07:10:55 -0700 (PDT)
Pantagraph.com, Tremont, Illinois
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Students bloom with Learning Garden
By Phyllis Coulter
TREMONT -- Teaching and learning extend beyond the
walls of Tremont Elementary School.
Students are so enamored with the school's Learning
Garden after its first year that more than 70 of them
have joined an after-school garden club. The club
recently held its first meeting of the new season.
Among other things, students started planting bulbs to
bloom in the spring.
"It's worked out much better than we envisioned,"
said Shonna Beuscher, a teacher active with the garden
along the school's south side.
It's become an extended classroom, a tool to teach
the 423 students math, science and language arts by
calculating seed depths, studying plants and insects
and using the setting as an inspiration for writing
"It's hands-on learning," said Beuscher, who leads
the school's discovery program for third- to
fifth-grade students. "The children take tremendous
pride in the garden."
The garden club started in January 2004, and, by
popular demand, began meeting again this October.
Membership is limited to students in grades three
through five, said Beuscher, who leads the
organization with third-grade teacher Julie Byrd and
fourth grade teacher Kate Lang. Landscape designers
Tom Scheurman and Dale Stuber act as consultants for
As an extension of the club, families sign up to
maintain the garden during the summer months. Each
family is assigned a week and a small sign is posted
recognizing the family gardeners on duty. It gives
them both recognition and accountability, said
On a recent schoolday, students enjoyed the warm
afternoon sun as they sprawled across the lawn,
sitting walls, and rocks of the garden to enjoy their
outdoor reading time. Dustin Croxton, 10 was reading
_A Series of Unfortunate Events_. Brock Bugaieksi,
also 10, said he enjoyed making a bird feeder last
year, which his family puts out for the birds in the
winter. Earlier in the year, the boys, along with the
rest of the fourth grade class, learned about sensory
writing by listening to sounds in the garden -- a
ringing bell and feet on the gravel pathways.
The Learning Garden has four main areas: the sense
garden; butterfly garden; fruits, nuts and seed
garden; and the Native Illinois Prairie Garden.
Another area has everything from A to Z, literally.
The Alphabet Garden starts near the wrought-iron gate
entrance with asters and finishes with zebra grass.
Besides exposing students to nature and giving
teachers another resource, the garden quickly has
become a part of the Tremont community, which helped
sponsor it by buying enough bricks to create a meeting
place for students to gather. Residents also donated
plants, time and money.
Beuscher said she often sees people enjoying the
garden in the evening. The gate is never locked to the
public, who she said helped to the tune of more than
$40,000 for the garden.
"No tax dollars" (were used), she added. "There's
been a terrific amount of support."
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org
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