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  • Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , School Garden Design , Community

    Features to spark curiosity and encourage exploration

     A child’s natural curiosity is sparked just by being outdoors. Watching a plant grow from seed or a butterfly emerge from its cocoon are experiences that impact children for a lifetime. Features can be added or additional materials can be used to encourage a sense of wonder and exploration. This could include:

     

       Water and/or sand features

       Areas for digging

       Natural exploration spaces (e.g., rocks to look under, logs to sit on)

       Block or natural building areas using loose parts (e.g., twigs, limbs, cut ...

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  • Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Filed under School Garden Design

    Teaching Features that Provide Endless Learning Opportunities

     

    In school gardens, natural elements are used and other features are added to enhance teaching and learning opportunities across all subject areas. Adding these features ensures that all subjects can be taught in the garden:

     

    • Native perennials, shrubs and trees

    • Plants with teachable applications such as medicinal properties or historical significance

    • Plant labels – help understand the art, science and history behind the plant

    • Vegetable gardening areas

    • Small animal habitats such as bird and bat houses and lizard hotels

    • Small water features to support animal habitats

    • Gathering area with a whiteboard...

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  • Wednesday, August 7, 2013 | Filed under Educators , School Garden Design , Community , Instructional Aids

    REAL School Gardens supports gardens that encourage children’s learning in varied ways. These outdoor spaces serve as a classroom where all subject areas are taught using a hands-on approach – what better way to learn math, language arts, science and social studies than using your five senses outdoors!  In addition, learning gardens support a child’s understanding of the art and science of gardening, healthy food production, and the patterns found in natural surroundings.  They are organic in their responsibility to the environment and encourage children to become stewards of the earth. By creating learning gardens that are inviting and beautiful, ...

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  • Monday, August 5, 2013 | Filed under Sustainability and Funding , School Garden Installation , Educators , School Garden Design , Community , Instructional Aids

     

    We often hear from folks all over the country looking for suggestions on how to start or improve a school garden on their campus.  Although there are many excellent resources available, we often suggest they find the book How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Pringle.  The book is a concise and simple-to-follow synthesis of their many years of experience designing, installing, and maintaining green schoolyards across the San Francisco Unified School District.

    In it, you’ll find chapters on Laying the Groundwork, Groundbreaking, Budgeting, and Fundraising, ...

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  • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 | Filed under Volunteering , School Garden Installation , School Garden Design , Community , REAL Supporters

    A recent assessment of student performance over the first six years of our program (2003-2009) showed that schools with a REAL School Garden had average passing rates on the Science TAKS test that were more than 5% higher than those without a learning garden.  The assessment was conducted by Professor Dale Boisso at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

    Before a school gets to benefit from their learning garden a lot has to happen!  For example, at William Cabell Elementary in Dallas, with generous donations from United Way and Bank of America, we are preparing their large courtyard for their ...

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  • Friday, August 31, 2012 | Filed under Volunteering , School Garden Installation , School Garden Design , Community , REAL Supporters

    Texas’ long, hot summer is almost over, and with it so is the waiting process for the children and teachers at Dallas ISD’s William L. Cabell Elementary School.  The Cabell Elementary community received the good news in May that they had been accepted into partnership with REAL School Gardens and would likely receive their own learning garden the following school year.  Then, the wait began, as the RSG team worked hard to find the right partners to help bring the learning garden to life.  Thanks to the generosity of Bank of America and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Cabell’s ...

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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | Filed under Art in the Garden , School Garden Design , Community , Fine Arts

    When I was young, my house was near a wooded area with a serene creek running at the bottom of the hillside.  My parents encouraged me to play outside - and one of my favorite play activities was doing art projects with items I found in the woods.  I will always remember the countless and joyful hours I spent gathering leaves, twigs, rocks and flowers and drawing, tying, gluing them together in all sorts of creative ways.  Mom tells me she also remembers the many bugs that came into our house on these projects! 

     

    Today, one of my greatest ...

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  • Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Filed under School Garden Design , Community , Instructional Aids

    I’ve been thinking a lot about chickens.  My recent trip to Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Burleson could have something to do with it—or I suppose it could be the other way around. Like most great American ideas of the past quarter century, though, I think it has its real origin in Martha Stewart.  Back when I was in high school, I remember watching her show and being in awe of all the cool animals she seemed to have around.  The really cute Chow puppies, the big crow that her pet guru always carried on his shoulder, and of course ...

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  • Thursday, April 5, 2012 | Filed under School Garden Installation , School Garden Design , Community , Smart Potatoes

    Each time we approach building a new school garden, one of the first things you will notice is that we need a village to build a great learning garden. We have lots of support from our community to help make a school garden possible and who are critical to our mission of growing successful students in our learning gardens. One of our great community partners is The Brickman Group, a leader in the commercial landscape industry with over 160 branches serving 29 states. A great crew from Brickman, led by Todd Hopkins, recently donated two days of their time ...

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  • Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , School Garden Installation , School Garden Design , Science

    REAL School Gardens wishes to recognize Texas Agrilife Extension Services as one of our partners in educating the public regarding Texas water resources. Texas Agrilife has partnered with us in bringing techniques for water conservation to the public schools in which we build learning gardens for inquiry-driven, sensory-based learning.

     With the increased population in Texas, the demand for water has soared and we need to be reminded to respect the available water captured underground and in lakes and utilize it in a practical and useful way.

     

     A special thank you goes to Dotty Woodson and Jeff Raska of Texas ...

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