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  • Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | Filed under Social Studies

    An opportunity was offered to visit the schools, students and gardens of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and so I hopped on a plane for an 8,000 mile ride across space and time zones to interact with another culture and their children. Students throughout the world have a desire to learn and if offered the opportunity, nothing will stop them from inquiring about the Earth they live on and the universe they live in. The questions of who, what, when, where, why and how will drive their learning.

     Notice the peoples' wants.

        Notice the peoples wants.


     This guy needs to ...

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  • Thursday, May 31, 2012 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , Health and Nutrition , Educators , Community , Social Studies , Science , Math , Smart Potatoes

    Kindergarten teacher, Lester Sipma, at George Clarke Elementary (Fort Worth, TX) has participated in the past two years of the Smart Potatoes Program.  He shared his experience this year with us below:    


    Participating in the Smart Potato program has impacted me, my students, our George C. Clarke staff, faculty and families in many ways. Some of the ways in which the program has impacted our campus were expected and others were wonderful surprises.

    I used the Smart Potato project as a platform to teach a variety of science lessons such as plant life cycles, soil types, problems and solutions to gardening, identifying insects, determining ...

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  • Monday, October 24, 2011 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , Student Behavior , Health and Nutrition , Language Arts , Community , Social Studies , Science , Math

    Students at T.A. Sims Elementary (Fort Worth ISD) hear the calling

    Nature has information she wants to share with you about the world and your place in it; she wants to offer you awe and wonder; she has things to share. We need to know that nature is the foundation of the arts and sciences; she offers exploratory learning through observation, inquiry, discovery and investigation. Nature will direct us to rigorous thinking, real world relevance and relationships between all her bounties and creations.


     Author Clifford Knapp offers these principles of indigenous (natural) wisdom to be enveloped by nature:

    1. ...

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  • Friday, September 23, 2011 | Filed under Social Studies , Instructional Aids , Science , REAL Supporters

    It has been a long, hot summer in Texas.  Many plants, despite our best efforts, simply threw in the towel, dropped their leaves, and told us, “wake me up when it rains.”  Even some of the most “Texas Tough” of our perennials have simply not been able to overcome the extreme heat and shortage of water.


    Cotton at ACFT

    The cotton at The Academy at Carrie F. Thomas couldn't be happier despite record-setting heat and drought conditions. 

    And then there’s cotton.  Thanks to a nice price discount from MRC Seeds last spring, REAL School Gardens was able to ...

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  • Friday, September 16, 2011 | Filed under Community , Social Studies

    George Clark students harvest squash, peppers and onions from their garden. Our ancestors brought the seeds for these vegetables from N. America, S.America and Asia thousands of years ago


    Many of the vegetables and fruits that we eat every day have not always been so plump and large, and at one time did not exist in the United States or more broadly on the North American continent. The vegetables and fruits abundant today are the gift of our ancestors’ ability to use their senses—in particular their sense of observation. They are the early scientists even though the word scientist didn’t exist. ...

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  • Friday, August 12, 2011 | Filed under School Garden Installation , School Garden Design , Social Studies , Instructional Aids

    Plastic knives marked with permanent marker, hand-made signs wrapped in a bag, printed informational sheets laminated and stapled to a stick; metal labels with words inscribed into soft aluminum; all of these have been tried as affordable and as-long-lasting-as-possible options for labeling the plants in a school’s garden.  They have all worked to varying degrees of longevity, but we are ready to try something new.

    After scouring the local nurseries for all existing plant label options, we settled on a kind that our friends at Redenta’s Garden have been using for years.  After Ruth Kinler, co-owner of Redenta’s, ...

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  • Monday, June 13, 2011 | Filed under Student Behavior , Language Arts , Social Studies , Science , Fine Arts , Math


    It’s no use; one can no longer hide from the fact that children immersed in nature in their schoolyard habitat have heightened learning experiences.

    The 1999 study, Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning” funded in part by the Texas Education Agency lists a variety of student benefits associated with using the local environment as an educational resource:

    • Better performance on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing , math, science and social studies;
    • Reduced discipline and classroom management problems;
    • Increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning; and
    • Greater pride and ownership in ...

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  • Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Filed under Language Arts , Social Studies , Family Activities , Instructional Aids

    As the school year draws to a close, I know all of the educators and students out there are relishing the idea of summer leisure time.  But, as any of our outdoor educators and students can tell you, the joy of learning doesn’t have to end just because you’re not sitting in a classroom every day!  A great way to stay engaged this summer is by reading – you can read outdoors or indoors, reading is a great activity for kids to pursue on their own or for grown-ups to do along with children, and there are some wonderful books that can help you experience the ...

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  • Friday, February 11, 2011 | Filed under Health and Nutrition , Social Studies , Instructional Aids , Science , Fine Arts , Math

    On Tuesday evening February 8, thirty-five Garden Coordinators from the Birdville, Arlington and Fort Worth school districts came together at the REAL School Gardens office to share their love of potatoes. Dan Quayle, Vice President of the US in 1992, was not invited as he insisted on spelling potato with an “e” (potatoe). True story—inquire at “Google”.

    The agenda looked like this: Potato dinner, Potato story, Potato planting, Potato survey, Potato harvesting, Potato irrelevant information and Potato pickup. The Garden Coordinator meeting was arranged so that teachers could garner enlightenment to begin fertilizing and prepping the school garden beds to ...

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  • Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , Student Behavior , Health and Nutrition , Language Arts , Social Studies , Science , Fine Arts


    A second grader at Withers Elementary in Dallas focuses intently on filling his journal with words to describe the world around him


    Nature’s beauty can be observed anywhere – from a park bench, favorite forest or even from your bedroom window.  Nature journaling helps you see the world around you in a new way.  The great thing about a nature journal is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it!  It’s your journal, and you make up the rules. 

    This first grader knows that natural pigments are great for coloring


    Here ...

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