On Friday, while we were putting together our lasagna garden, we had a special visitor, Allison Staak. She read The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake and the children were intrigued with the chemical reactions they talked about in the book. Monday, Allison was our substitute and brought some materials to conduct our own experiment. We used plastic bottles and put vinegar in them. Then we put some baking soda in a balloon and covered the top of the bottle. We made predictions and conducted our experiment allowing the baking soda to fall into the vinegar. This was a great example of how our three different levels of kids are able to participate. Check out each child's response!
To prepare our garden to have the best soil possible for the spring, we decided to
try Lasagna Gardening. We followed the article from Urban Farming
http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/backyard-gardening/lasagna-gardening.aspx to a tee. The first thing we started to do weeks ago is to collect carbon sources. Any box we had or newspaper we kept rather than recycling them. We gathered leaves from our yards and a few bales of straw. Carbon sources were plentiful and easy to store. Our nitrogen sources took a bit of research. We called a few farmers to see if they had aged manure available and decided to go to Stan and Delores’s farm for sheep manure. Pictures are shown in the previous blog.
Other nitrogen sources came from our parents coffee grounds, kitchen scraps
and we stopped by the Java house on our “community day” to pick up a whole
garbage bag full of coffee grounds.
All day on Friday we worked to transform our garden. We removed our garden
beds (except our strawberries) and tilled the soil.
Once the whole area was tilled we laid down all of our cardboard (I was amazed we didn’t collect enough cardboard to cover our entire garden!) and some straw
which was our first layer of carbon.
Then we laid down a nitrogen layer.
We repeated the layering and finished with straw (carbon) on top.
Since the wind really blows and we wanted to speed up the composing process,
we covered the whole garden with black plastic. Now our only challenge is to
find a secure way to keep the tarp down…every day we come to school a little
adjustment needs to be made! We are very excited to see how rich the soil will
be come spring!
We went on a little excursion today. First stop was Stan's house to get some aged sheep manure. Stan is on the board for the Cosgrove Institute and has been a wonderful resource for us. Check out our pictures below !
Butterflies provide a nice balance between structure (the basic form of a butterfly) and freedom (the sky's the limit with the lines and colors we can place on a butterfly's wings). Some typical elements of Claire Lawler's work are seen in this piece. She is fearless in her color choices and enjoys layering color with a variety of brush strokes. Her freedom of movement and her experimentation display the joy she takes in her art.
Like Claire, Jorge painted a butterfly which shows a lack of inhibition in his use of color. This piece demonstrates the different approach that Jorge typically takes in his work. Notice that he did not start with a basic pencil drawing--he just dove right in. Jorge's mind is bursting with ideas and stories. Little of Jorge's work gets hung in our school gallery because his enthusiasm is so intense that he rushes home with almost every piece as soon as it is done. Fortunately, he also does a great deal of work at home which he then brings to school to share with us.
We read the book, "A River Ran Wild" by Lynne Cherry. BJ got a roll of butcher paper from the art studio and we taped up across the length of the room. For each page, BJ summarized the main idea, while Claire and Jorge chose an item to illustrate related to each point in time in the life of the Nashua River. In the end we marked fourteen points on the timeline, and created about 28 illustrations. To finish, BJ drew a river across the length of the timeline and all three students colored the river, making it change from blue to green, red, purple, brown, black and back to blue to reinforce and illustrate the changes the river went through over time. Later in the day, with Jack's help, we were able to add dates concerning the use and banning of DDT as well as the formation of the EPA and the "Clean Water Act". The kids were very energized by the activity and worked on it for much of the day.
Check out our first newsletter created by Jack and B.J.!
The class took advantage of the good weather this week and took a trip out to Red Bird Farms Wildlife Area very near to school. They went to a pond that receded due to the lack of water. The muddy edges had lots of frogs and Paula pointed out the clues to find a coyote den. They tried to walk through the sorghum field to Old Man's Creek but the burrs prevented them from continuing. Finally, they walked along a washout (Claire walking through tunnel). This was the kids’ favorite part since they had to crawl under the grass. The washout led them to the river, which instigated a discussion of how pesticides run off from the nearby farms and pollute Old Man's Creek. More questions arose relating to the environment, which will be further investigated next week.