Lettuce, radishes, peas, and beans . . . mealworms, centipedes, earthworms, garden spiders . . . catbirds, red tailed hawks, fox, deer . . . seashell sets, whale baleen, emu egg, making paper . . . what a year it has been!
The highlight of sustainable science always seems to be the work we are doing now. So the garden is currently exciting, but wait! We are in the woods today! Each week, Children’s House and Lower Elementary students are outside exploring one or the other when the weather cooperates.
If we look at the long-range picture, I must mention the new deer fence that was built by Eagle Scout, Marc Zamora, and his Boy Scout troop. As you’ve probably seen, we have groundhogs on the property. Between the groundhogs and the deer, peas have not survived the last couple of planting seasons here at TMS. This year, because of the deer fence, we are growing peas! The first flowers are presenting themselves, so I’m hopeful that children can eat peas before the last day of school. Summer camp will likely have peas and beans. Next fall, we will enjoy tomatoes, zinnia flowers, and hopefully carrots, kale, beans, and peppers.
The scout troop worked hard and long on Saturday, March 30. I knew this would be demanding, but I had no idea how demanding it was going to be! Post holes were dug three feet into the ground for a very sturdy fence structure. It is working, too. Stop by the garden to see the vegetables that are growing! Today, May 23, we will eat lettuce, kale, radishes and spinach.
Each year, the goal of sustainable science is to embed the knowledge that the students have in their extremely strong science Montessori curriculum into the immediate world around us. What season are we in, and what are we seeing in the garden and woods? Exactly what live critters are in the soil? Which ones can I safely hold (earthworms, mealworms, sow bugs) and which ones do we leave alone (spiders, centipedes)? Applying knowledge to the here and now is exhilarating.
Each year, TMS students rotate through directly handling science resources that are brought to school from my “gatherings”: sets of seashells, fossils and rocks, a nature set, magnifiers, and paper-making supplies. Earlier this year, we increased our understanding of recycling. We now have a papier-mâché map of TMS showing sea level elevation of TMS and the woods. We also made craft paper from discarded “recycled” paper. Some of the paper was used in spectacular art with Mrs. Cooper!
So, highlights? All those teachable moments that children experience in the garden, woods, making their own piece of paper, matching the fossil in hand with the timeline of life, and more.
And the big picture? Woods/garden/rain garden/rain barrel/nature inside and out/making paper and a new deer fence.
In the beautiful month of May, the Upper Elementary class takes an exciting trip to Maryland and stays four nights at Echo Hill Outdoor School (E.H.O.S.) to extend their outdoor and environmental studies, and of course to have fun! The fifth and fourth grade class stays at the E.H.O.S. campground while the sixth grade class often takes a daring and adventurous boat trip.
Although it is a place to learn, we have fun outside our regular activities: hayrides, meeting new friends from other schools, bonfires, roasting marshmallows, etc. Other things we learned about this week is that if you chew a lifesaver with your mouth open, you can see sparks! A big part of Echo Hill is the delicious food served buffet style daily, however if you don’t finish your food because you put too much on your plate, it goes into the “slop” bucket (S.L.O.P. stands for Stuff Left On Plate). The slop is weighed at the end of the meal, and added up after our last meal before leaving. The least amount of slop the better. The three schools in attendance one week accumulated 70 lbs of slop. We still have a lot to learn about wasting food!
During our extra time in between lessons, you can head down to the beach and canoe, beach hike, wade, or sit and talk, or if the beach isn’t appealing, you can wander, play ball on the ball courts, or stay on the tent side and shower or read. We met old friends and new ones and had lots of fun. The tents weren’t luxurious, but that made it more fun. The bug nets kept out the bugs so they didn’t crawl on you in the middle of the night.
To end our amazing journey at Echo Hill we walked down to the Merick Hall and had a Stick Ceremony. The Stick Ceremony is where one by one a classmate takes a stick, says what they loved about Echo Hill and what they will miss, and throws the stick into the fire. This was a very sentimental part of the trip. One fifth grader said, “It was my favorite part of the trip because we played games and everyone had fun!” Another fifth grader said, “I liked that we could throw sticks into the fire so a little part of us would always be there.”
Each class was fun and unique, and we learned many things. It was a week worth attending!
Compiled by Upper Elementary students
Recommended reading for parents:
• How to Help Kids With Sleepover Anxiety by Beth Arky of the Child Mind Institute, viewed on May 13, 2019
• Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help Children Grow, by Michael Thompson
• Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv
• The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life In a Virtual Age, by Richard Louv
Hi, I’m Mahee and I’m going to tell you how Lower Elementary takes care of chicks and learns about embryology. You have to keep the eggs in an incubator, which keeps them at 100 degrees. You have to turn the eggs at morning, lunch, and afternoon, for the first 4 days. After they hatch, you have to leave them in the incubator for 24 hours to let their feathers dry. Then, you can move them into a brooder box. You have to have a heat lamp in the brooder box to keep them warm. You must provide them with food (corn meal) and water. We keep the chicks for five days before they return to the farm.