Welcome to the Earth Lab program for this new school year.
The Earth Lab group consists of volunteer parents, who are interested in teaching the Montclair School kids by doing projects in the school gardening plots with their child’s classroom. Many educational topics are potentially covered. Everything from nutrition, to measurement, to biology and even history are possible and have been done at Montclair school.
The program was started in 1998 when a group of parent volunteers got together and built the two school gardens. The first is the “Friendship Garden”; it is the collection of raised beds on the east side of the main playground. The second is the “California Garden”–the circular area on the opposite side, located between the AT building and Portable D, with benches surrounding it. The Friendship Garden is shared between all the classes, where each class has a raised bed to plant in. The California Garden is intended to provide a low-maintenance nature area of California native plants, that the children can enjoy and use for study. Since 1998 the COMPOST group has also adopted the parking lot and planted the trees in the medians.
Tasks of Classroom Volunteers:
Typically, the job of the volunteer parents consists of taking their child’s class to the garden once or twice a month to do interesting and educational gardening activities. These activities require the classroom volunteers to prepare a lesson based on classroom curriculum or previously successful educational activity (We are slowly building a library of successful activities for different grades that are educational to the children). In some classrooms, such as Ms. Engelhard’s 2nd grade, the garden lessons relate directly to the classroom curriculum. (The 2nd grade class studies the life cycle which can be observed directly as the plants grow.) In some classes, such as Mr. Danielson’s 3rd grade class, the garden lessons do not tie in with the science curriculum, and the parent volunteers develop their own. They might prepare and activity as simple as “who can grow the biggest carrot”, which might include a story about carrots, a study of different varieties of carrot, and a planting of carrot seeds. Study of nutrition is also very popular. Classes will plant crops then harvest and prepare a meal using some of the ingredients they’ve harvested. It encourages even the fussiest eater to try new foods.
If you want to Volunteer:
We have many excellent parent volunteers this year. Some have already started and have been planting the classroom plots throughout September and October. We do, however, have openings for more volunteers in the classroom and projects to tackle outside. If you are interested in participating, please call or e-mail the COMPOST coordinator and let her know what you would like to offer or to get a list of current projects to tackle. If you just want to know what is going on with the COMPOST group, you can request to have your name added to the COMPOST e-mail list, by sending an e-mail to the COMPOST Coordinator above.
COMPOST Gardening Day:
Finally, one of our most important events–“The COMPOST Gardening Day”–happens twice a year. That is when we make a call to all parents who have the time to come out to the school on a Saturday morning to weed, clean up, and do the other maintenance tasks needed to keep our gardens looking fabulous. This always ends up being a great day for both the parents and the kids, who like to ride their bikes, play nearby, or even help with the gardening tasks. Please come join us this year.