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By Jindi Tao, Experiential Learning Community Educator – UBC Career Experience Practicum

At Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School, when late autumn comes and the flowers are gone, kids could brighten up the Grandview school garden with this cool Halloween decoration. Using just paper towels, horse chestnuts, pinecones and string, they make all sorts of Halloween stuff like spiders, ghosts and webs. It’s a great garden activity that helps kids develop skills like organizing, leading, being creative, and communicating in a team.  

 

Welcoming Halloween to the Garden

What’s really interesting is seeing how different each spider web turns out. Like, there’s one spider web on the right side of the picture, made by a kid who used her own ideas to weave a round web. It really shows her style and independence. Then, there’s another web on the left, made by a group of kids working together. They had to chat, share ideas, sort out any disagreements, and collaborate to make it. These Halloween decorations do more than just make our garden look cool; they’re awesome for boosting creativity, social skills, learning new stuff, and keeping everyone interested.

 

Pumpkin Decomposing

As we turned the pages of our nature storybook, the kids learned about nature’s own recycling process. They learned that what seems like just waste, such as fallen leaves, food scraps, pumpkins, and grass cuttings, is really a feast for tiny, often unseen decomposers. These little guys, like fungi and bacteria, work hard to turn our ‘trash’ into rich compost. It’s a fascinating way to see how ‘trash’ becomes a treasure for the earth, teaching us about the importance of every part of our ecosystem and the awesome self-sustaining system of nature. 

By recycling the pumpkin as a compost ingredient, the kids can use their four senses to observe the decomposer process of the pumpkin. They started by smelling the fresh pumpkin scent around the farm. Over time, they can see how a whole yellow pumpkin is slowly degraded into brown dirt. When they broke the pumpkin with a small shovel, they could hear the crack and felt its hard shell. The coolest part was finding pumpkin seeds during the process. This discovery led them to save the seeds and even plant some. This activity was more than just fun post-Halloween composting, it was a great way to engage the kids in learning about gardening without wasting food.

 

Planting Spring Bulbs

As the gardening year comes to a close at Grandview Garden, our late autumn efforts focus on planning ahead and working out what we want to grow in the next season. We’ve recently planted Camas Bulbs, known for their late blooming and delicious taste when cooked. These bulbs, which can be boiled, mashed, or roasted, offer a sweet flavor reminiscent of roasted pears or sweet chestnuts. For the kids, it’s an exciting journey from planting to harvesting. They’re thrilled to see their efforts culminate in delicious, edible results. This process not only teaches them about the cycle of growth but also instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. Watching these bulbs grow and eventually enjoying their sweet taste is a wonderful way for children to connect with nature and understand the importance of nurturing and caring for the environment. It’s a hands-on experience that enriches their knowledge and appreciation for gardening and healthy eating, as they learn the magic of growing and eating what they’ve planted.

 

A Big Thank You to Jindi! 🍁

Jindi spent September – December 2023 with Fresh Roots, helping make hands-on learning outside a reality on our schoolyard farms and Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School garden. She dove fully in, learning about native food and medicinal plants, developing new learning activities for the students, and cooking with them. Thank you Jindi, for sharing your knowledge with all of us at Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh and being willing to constantly try something new, whether it was making salves, rotting pumpkins, or roasting sunchokes.  We look forward to seeing where you go next – Andrea, Experiential Learning Program Lead

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