In the Classroom: The Peanuts
What’s in a garden?
Once we began collecting flower petals for the classroom from under trees outside, read Eating the alphabet by Lois Ehlert, and watched a few beans sprout in jars on our windowsills, we knew we were ready to answer the Peanut’s big question: What’s in a garden?
We set out on many different avenues of exploration as this focus got under way. We purchased different kinds of seeds at the hardware store on Walnut Street and sowed them in the garden. We explored the community garden called “plotland” at 44th and Locust, and observed the Penn Alexander (PAS) garden out our west window.
We pretended to be seeds, fruits and vegetables growing and being eaten. We looked at the book Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayers in front of the farmer mural at 44th and Market. We searched The Woodlands for enormous plants, like trees, to compare with what we see growing at Clark and Chicken Parks. We sketched and painted. We ate fresh fruits and veggies at snack and in the play pretend kitchen. But one of our best finds in the garden was bugs!
When the Peanuts noticed roly poly bugs under a stump at the PAS garden they were intrigued. They had fun both being a little uncomfortable touching these little creatures, while at the same time squealing with joy as they tickled hands and arms.
Soon Peanuts were finding click beetles, ants, inch worms, spiders, and even a praying mantis at the gardens we began to frequent. Peanuts had discovered that insects are in the garden, too!
Peanut teachers wanted to help our children understand why. We read about predator and prey, as well as about the life cycles of bugs. We helped the children look for patterns among the insects in the garden. We made webs with string and played ‘sneak sneak hold still … POUNCE’ at morning meeting to try our hand as mantids and arachnids.
We also went online and ordered 350 live ladybugs to release in our playground garden, for fun and to help tackle aphids on some of our sunflowers. The Peanuts have now incorporated this knowledge into their play and who knows where the curiosity that arises will lead us next!