The lower grades have 30 minute garden sessions, every other week. The lessons foster students’ innate curiosity, encouraging them to engage their five senses and ask questions to promote scientific learning. Students are exposed to a variety of topics and gardening techniques that lay the groundwork for their studies in the upper grades. They learn the basics of using hand tools as they help plant and maintain the Garden.
Kindergarteners are focused on discovering the interdependent relationships of plants and animals in the Garden. Through direct observation, they describe what plants and animals need to survive and note how plants and animals can change the environment to meet their needs. They begin to open their taste buds to new foods as they nibble their way through the Garden.
1st Grade students dive deeply into the study of plants and animals, with a focus on anatomical structures and functions. They use observation to deduce how plants grow and change over time and the roles that a plant’s parts play throughout its life cycle. Their animal studies focus on insects; they learn how different body parts help insects survive and discern garden friends from garden foes. As part of their nutrition study, the first graders learn about how eating a rainbow of healthy foods fuels our body.
2nd Grade students get to know the soil by investigating the properties of its components and the living organisms that inhabit it. What is soil made of? Why is it such a precious resource? The students shift from observing the interdependent relationships among organisms in the garden to conducting investigations and making models to further understand the importance of these relationships. Moving deeper into our nutrition study, second graders begin learning about essential nutrients found in foods and what they do for our bodies.
The upper grades have 45 garden sessions, every other week. The longer sessions allow them to conduct more advanced experiments and delve more deeply into specific areas of study. Students work on some projects over multiple weeks, which leads to a stronger connection to the outdoor classroom as well as the opportunity to notice the fruits of their labor over time. They learn how to correctly use larger tools like digging forks and spades as they take on more responsibility maintaining the Edna garden.
3rd Grade students work on refining their ability to record observations and analyze and interpret data. In one investigation, they learn about the diversity within families of vegetables and determine which ones grow best in the Garden. They also conduct an experiment to determine how space affects the growth of plants. The third grade nutrition lessons focus on the importance of eating a balanced diet of whole foods. Students learn all about persimmons and discover the many ways to prepare and enjoy them.
4th Grade students focus on the internal and external structures of plants that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. They look closely at seeds and flowers to see the relationship between structure and function. Fourth graders have two main garden projects: They promote community access to healthy food options by planting, maintaining and harvesting vegetables that go to the Marin Food Bank; and they are responsible for nourishing the soil by planting cover crops over the winter. As part of their nutrition study, the fourth graders learn about the importance of eating dark leafy greens. From seed to table, they plant, maintain, harvest, and cook delicious stir fry greens.
5th Grade students have two projects that carry them through the school year. In the fall, they adopt an apple tree in the orchard and as the seasons change, the students learn how to best care for their tree with basic pruning, organic pest prevention, and other orchard maintenance techniques. Fifth graders are also responsible for maintaining the garden’s compost bins. With this job, they observe first-hand how matter and energy move among plants, animals, decomposers and the environment. Their nutrition study focuses on the major food nutrients and healthy ways to include them in a diet. Making kohlrabi fritters is a highlight of their last year at Edna.