Brightly colored flowers were in full bloom as P.S. 119 students, eager to grow their knowledge of living things, attended one of the first outdoor classroom lessons of the spring season at Serenity Community Garden on Thursday, April 14th.
Their teacher, Yolanda Fields, brought students from her class to the garden located at 4402 Avenue L to meet with founders, Paul and Nebert Jackson, and Shari Rose, Associate Director for Environmental Education at the City Parks Foundation Learning Center Program.
“What are the six parts of a plant?” Rose asked. The students, who were seated in a circle around her, eagerly raised their hands as they called out their answers one by one. Rose further engaged them by explaining the function of each part of a plant as she raised picture cards of the root, stem, leaves, flower, fruit and seeds.
The Learning Gardens School Day Program is geared toward 1st to 8th grade students in select elementary schools. The classes take place twice a week at 9 and 10 a.m. from April 13th to June 17th. The program aligns with New York State P-12 science learning standards and helps children to understand the importance of community gardens with what is described as “hands-on, experiential learning” as they explore the science of the ecology of living things in an immersive learning environment.
The students interacted with their surroundings and each other by searching for different components of the garden from pictures they were given. They looked for insects, flowers and parts of the plants they learned about earlier.
In another activity, they gained an understanding and appreciation for a raised flower bed filled with plants that looked like weeds, but were much more than the eye beheld. The instructor identified the type of plant they were looking at and explained its uses as well as the role of the insects on the ground and in the air around them. Later, they joined together in a circle to play a game called “Where the Wind Blows.” Learning was not only interactive, but memorable and fun.
Upcoming classes will include lessons about food chains, live insects and animals, healthy food habits, community stewardship, weather and climate, and more. The students will make garden signs to decorate the fence surrounding the property and bring home plants on their final day of class. To learn more about the program, co-sponsored with funds from the office of Councilwoman Farah Louis, visit cityparksfoundation.org/learning-gardens/