Gardening and Outdoor Education 

November / December / January

Melanie Mayo

Early Learning Center

    Over the late fall and early winter, ELC students have explored birds’ needs by making nests from found materials.  Students discovered that even with two hands, we can't make nests as well as bird's feet can!  ELC learned about seed saving and broke apart flower seedheads for later use.  After a story about mean King Privet - the conqueror of the forest plants, students cut back privet (an invasive plant growing in the woods among our natives) and used the branches to make crowns.  By far the most fun project and learning experiment has been the Worm Farm, though.  
       ELC students learned what worms need to live in a worm bin, built the bin, made the bedding and fed compost to the worms.  They have conducted simply light experiments with the worms, observed the various anatomical parts of a worm, wiggled in a worm race and much more.  Learning really comes to life with a live worm in their hands!

young chldren planting seeds in the campus garden

Lower Primary

      Over the late fall and early winter, Lower Primary students have learned how new plants are created from seeds and bulbs.  They learned about the parts of monocots and dicots by observing bean seed germination.  They learned about bulbs by studying various types of bulbs like tulip bulbs, garlic heads and onions.  What started as an example bulb became a snack when students began asking to taste the onion.  Lots of breath mints later we planted garlic cloves in wet cotton balls in clear plastic cups to observe the way a part of a bulb becomes a new plant.  
       LP students also helped with our sweet potato harvest and pulled many of those tubers out of the ground. 
       Level 3 students studied patterns through nature spirals and created their own patterned snail spiral with seeds of various colors and shapes.  Level 3 students have just started their bird study and will soon be learning about how birds create songs with their unique vocal cords. 
      Level 4 students went "batty for bats" and learned that these nighttime hunters are incredible friends to humans and just want to live in peace.  

children studying various kinds of plants

Middle Primary

       Over the late fall and early winter, Middle Primary students completed their Naturalist Study with Henry David Thoreau, who wrote "On Walden Pond."  Many deep thoughts surfaced in reaction to the idea of a man leaving city life behind to live alone next to a pond.  
       Before Thanksgiving, MP students harvested the sweet potatoes from the garden and then enjoyed eating those same sweet potatoes in a casserole in the cafeteria.  Before the holiday break, students used dried okra pods from the garden to create Santa ornaments that I hope made their way to your homes!  
       MP students spent time during this warm January learning how to dig up, divide and replant iris bulbs in the Monet Garden in front of their cottage.  We are all eager to see the results of their hard work.  They are now starting their Junior Master Gardener "Plant Growth and Development" module and will be learning many things from the botany of a flower to the transplanting of a tomato seedling.


Upper Primary

Over the late fall and early winter, Level 6 students learned how to dig up, divide and replant iris bulbs in the Monet Garden in front of Middle Primary.  We are looking forward to seeing the results this spring. Level 6 has also enjoyed a lot of hands-on time in the garden mixing the compost, cutting back dead plants in the butterfly garden, setting up leaf composting and making bird feeders from pine cones.  One of the most fun days so far for Level 6 has been a building/exploring time in the woods where there was freedom to do what they chose with the materials they found there.  

       Level 6 students also learned the basics about tomato varieties and used their own personal seed catalogs to choose a new variety for our school to grow this year.  They will soon be seeding all of our tomato varieties in the greenhouse!  Level 6 also learned "Worm Anatomy" and conducted a light experiment with red wigglers from our Worm Bin.

       Oh, how lucky it is to be a Level 7 student at St. Nicholas!  Besides being the oldest students, Level 7 gets to really cook!  Our cooking and nutrition module has started with writing a recipe for Grilled Cheese, after watching a demonstration and tasting (of course!)  Next students learned the science of caramelization and how chocolate chip cookies rise and then tried their hand at baking cookies from scratch.  Measuring, mixing and working as a team cooked up a lot of fun!  Up next will be lessons on boosting a healthy breakfast, eating your greens and more.  Learning to eat what you grow is a lesson in taking good care of yourself!  Level 7 students have also spent time making bird feeders, learning about scientific classification, understanding farm workers’ rights, the plight of Cesar Chavez and learning Latin with earthworm names.  The once cherished fall radish garden is now gone. Hopefully the "French Radish Breakfast" the students created with bread, butter and radishes will live on in your homes!

ST NICHOLAS SCHOOL 7525 Min Tom Drive | Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421 | ph: (423).899.1999 | fax: (423).899.0109 | i[email protected]