Real Stories
  • Sunday, July 13, 2014 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , Instructional Aids , Science

    Learning gardens are ideally suited for developing the critical thinking skills and foundations of understanding for the disciplines of math, science and language arts. The inquiry based learning methods facilitated in the outdoor laboratory/outdoor classroom reaches across the curriculum by virtue of the inter-related nested and natural systems of the earth. When students’ are in the outdoor classroom they learn firsthand that natural systems are composed of cycles, processes and structures that interact and are driven by a flow of energy through them; the students‘ learn about these systems through sensory observations. Empirical learning through hands on science and math investigation creates transformative experiences which guide the students’ learning in ...

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  • Friday, July 11, 2014 | Filed under Volunteering , Language Arts , Educators , Lesson Plans , Science , REAL Teacher Journal , Math

    Friday, June 6th – Lee Elementary Full Day Professional Development



    Helping out with the teacher training was a very unique experience for me.  Having learned quite a bit about REAL School Gardens through my Nature of Giving course at TCU, I was very much looking forward to working here this summer.  From the beginning, I have been very open to helping out wherever needed and learning more about not only a wonderful, innovative organization, but growing in my nonprofit skills.  Getting to see a first teacher training happen was a blessing, and ended up teaching me more than ...

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  • Monday, April 28, 2014 | Filed under

    Growing a Garden Book Collection for Kids/ Rick Swann

    Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle in their book How to Grow a School Garden describe school gardens as “libraries full of life, mystery, and surprise.” I tell children that being in a garden is like reading a good book. Reading about gardens not only gets kids jazzed about working in the garden, it allows them to dig more deeply into many of the issues and themes that school gardens bring to play: encouraging community, promoting sustainability and a love of nature, instilling a sense of place to name a few. ...

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  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | Filed under Language Arts , Educators , Science , Math

    Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi believed in educating students through head, hand and heart. His pedagogical method was that education should be based on concrete experience as in the use of tactile objects such as plants and other natural specimens in teaching the sciences to students.

    These principles appeared in the introduction to A Manual of Elementary Instruction for the Use of Public and Private Schools and Normal Classes published in 1873. Do these principles still apply today?


    1. Activity is the law of childhood. Accustom the child to do – educate the hand.
    2. Cultivate the faculties in their natural order – ...

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  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | Filed under Environmental Stewardship , Science


     Who knew that the physical properties and components of soil would be so all encompassing. This 1st grade student takes to the wonders of soil while viewing it through a loupe magnifier. She is learning to determine that soil particles have size, texture and color, and discovers soil is nonliving but has living components. In the outdoor classroom a student can observe, compare and describe the attributes of the medium they manipulate


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  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Filed under

    I am a bilingual first grade teacher, my students are Hispanic and I love them.

    Every day is a challenge for me. I have economically disadvantaged students that struggle with  psychological problems and health issues.

    I need to be creative to teach them and not just give them information or explain a concept.

    Fortunately I have tools to teach in my classroom such as manipulatives, notebooks, books and technology.

    I cannot complain about resources, but I was missing an important element, nature.

    circle gardenLuckily, several months ago, Ms. Birdsong presented the garden project to us and I was really excited.

    Several ...

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  • Friday, March 14, 2014 | Filed under

    KERA’s American Graduate initiative recently discussed the importance of STEM  in our educational landscape.  

    A panel of technology business leaders proclaimed that STEM competencies are a direct link to effective preparation for workforce ready young professionals.  The THINK discussion presented a common theme that teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills need to be incorporated within STEM instruction because “teky” students  usually struggle with social skills when they enter the workforce. 

    So, when we planned our native paint making lesson at the first annual Dallas STEM day, we aimed to embed social skills along with district STEM curriculum objectives. students making rock paint

    Students ...

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  • Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | Filed under Health and Nutrition , Science



     When vegetable gardening, the Earth’s natural food cycles are integrated into the cycles of planting, growing, harvesting, composting and recycling, and these garden cycles are in turn implanted in larger systems that have further interconnections. Food cycles interconnect with the water cycle, the nitrogen, carbon dioxide - oxygen cycle, the nutritive cycle, and the cycle of the seasons. Vegetable gardening involves ...

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  • Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Filed under Language Arts , Educators , Community , Lesson Plans , REAL Teacher Journal



    I recently read this collection of short stories about how a community garden in Cleveland brought a troubled neighborhood together.  Florence is one of the last short stories in the novel, and she shares the simile, “waiting for the snow to melt was like waiting for a glacier to move.” Mr. V (REAL School Gardens Educator) shared this morning that that this has been one of the coldest winters in a century.  Resources like this novel can help you plan to use the schoolyard once the snow melts.

    This Teacher Study Guide (grades 3 – 6) can be ...

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  • Tuesday, January 28, 2014 | Filed under

    One special project that REAL School Gardens does with our school partners is our Smart Potatoes Initiative.  For Smart Potatoes, participating schools have children spend 100 days growing potatpotato in handoes, charting their progress, making predictions, and graphing their results.  This year, REAL School Gardens has 40 schools participating!  Once the potatoes are grown and harvested, children donate them to local food pantries, learning that it feels great to give to those in need.  If you're interested in doing your own Smart Potatoes program at your school, our lesson plans are below.   Pictures and more details from previous years can ...

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