Thomas Konrad, 7, left, and friend Gene Sanchez, 7, right, work on drawing a tomato plant in the Helmers Elementary garden on Monday, March 27, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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First grade student Evelyn Karpp, 6, sat on the edge of the Charles Helmers Elementary School garden as she drew pictures of the fruits and vegetables in front of her with a pencil and paper.

“I’ve learned about the things that different types of fruits and vegetables are called,” she said.

Evelyn and her classmates in Robin Vatcher’s first grade class studied the names of different vegetables and learned about garden perspective during their 30-minute garden lesson Monday.

Helmers Elementary school students work on drawings of the plants in their school’s garden on Monday, March 27, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Led by Lisa Ely, the creator of Karden’s Garden Curriculum and classes, students at the elementary school learn how to integrate classroom learning with practical experiences as they study seeds, plant fruits and vegetables, nurture plants and watch them grow.

“This is a learning, growing classroom that they get to help build,” Ely said.  “It’s always fun.  During the first two minutes they look around and are so excited to see how everything has grown.”

Through the program, students in transitional kindergarten (TK) to second grade experience an interactive, outdoor classroom in 30-minute session every other week.  These sessions integrate the garden curriculum with art, music, foreign language, math and science instruction.

Students in third grade to sixth grade attend workshops that align with their curriculum with lessons on Santa Clarita history, gardens in space and word associations to create garden poetry.

Thomas Konrad, 7, works on a bird’s eye view drawing of a tomato plant in the Helmers Elementary garden on Monday, March 27, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

During Monday’s lesson, students learned about perspective by looking at their plants from a bird’s view high above the plants and from a worm’s view from the root of the plants.

“I want you looking down and seeing how important it is to look at things from a different perspective,” Ely said as she pointed out a group of eggs that were laid by a caterpillar or a mouth on the roots of one of the vegetables.  “Looking at things from a different perspective keeps our garden growing.”

To understand this perspective, students drew pictures of their garden from either the bird’s perspective or the worm’s perspective.

“They don’t have to be perfect,” Ely said.  “I want you to really look at things.”

Giselle Juarez, 7, said she enjoyed planting seeds and pulling weeds out of the garden.

“I love gardening.  I garden at home sometimes,” she said.  “I love to do experiments with them [plants].”

Thomas Konrad, 7, points at a growing tomato plant in the Helmers Elementary garden on Monday, March 27, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The Charles Helmers Garden also teaches students to work together to create a community garden that everyone can use.

“This is our community garden,” Ely said to the first grade students.  “This means the plants don’t belong to you, they belong to all of us.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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Christina Cox
Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.
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