- Melissa Laurie
April at GAP School!
Blue Skinks & Red Dragons
This month, we have been loving our Garden PBL! We talked about the meanings of the word “nurture,” discussing how we nurture gardens and how gardens nurture us. We have continued to work on alphabetical order, dictionary, and research skills. We learned about the Victorian practice of floriography, in which plants are symbols of ideas and feelings. For example, did you know that mint stands for suspicion, and Black-eyed Susan stands for justice? Each of us was assigned a plant/flower, and we researched its meaning and key facts. This way, we learned about a lot of new abstract concepts, as well as scientific information. All of this research, along with illustrations we each made, has been compiled into a
PDF to be downloaded and on display in the pop-up meditation garden we have designed for our Community Day! We have, of course, been reading, discussing, and writing about many different garden-themed fiction and nonfiction books. Also, we have studied nonfiction articles about various types of gardens: community gardens, botanical gardens, meditation gardens, kitchen gardens, and water gardens. Most recently, each grade has planned a station that families can stop by during community day. We have been working hard on our plans together and have created signage for our upcoming event!
In April we dove into tracking the weather for math, as all good gardeners do!
Every day Learners tracked the day's weather including reading a thermometer in Fahrenheit, checking a rain gauge for volume of rain in inches, observing cloud cover by recording as a percentage, and noting the time by looking at a analog clock. We collected data for three weeks and have started making simple graphs to analyze our data.
Additionally, we measured and tracked the growth of our garden plants in centimeters while observing for symmetry as the plants grew. Finally we measured the growth of our caterpillars in centimeters.
This was an exciting gardentastic month of science & math! We started out the month learning how to collect data on the weather. Every day we have collected data on temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, etc. We will use this data to understand weather trends and act as mini-meteorologists!
We dove into the different types of clouds in the sky and made a cloud viewer window to help us identify as we gazed skyward. Next we tackled soil science. We observed soil under the eye of GAP's digital microscope. We also learned about the parts of healthy soil (loam) by putting potting soil and forest soil into jars with water, shaking them up, and letting them sit overnight. We were able to see the layers of gravel, sand, silt, clay, and organic matter after they settled at different rates. Using this experiment we determined why we should use potting soil in our garden instead of planting directly into the ground. Later that week we used mustard powder to irritate the worm's skin. We made 1x1ft plots in the forest and counted the worms as they wriggled up out of the ground. We looked closely at the parts of our squiggly friends and learned how worms help to aerate and irrigate the soil.
Finally we started our most exciting topic of all: caterpillars! We have watched our painted lady caterpillars grow from small caterpillars into much larger ones. Soon they will turn into a chrysalis and finally a butterfly. Every day we observe their growth and measure their length. We have used our caterpillars as a hook to begin talking about life cycles of plants and animals. We played games and studied the four stages of the butterfly lifecycle. We also looked at our frog pond to observe frog life cycle stages.
This final week of April and into the beginning of May we are learning about pollinators and flowers. We learned about the many different pollinators from bees, to bats, to humans and how they spread pollen from flower to flower. We dissected flowers to learn more about their parts and how pollination works. We also set up an experiment to see how the stems bring water up to the flower. We dyed our water with food coloring and hope to see the colors show up in our petals in a few days. Lastly we learned about pollination syndrome and the different colors, shapes, and smells of flowers that different pollinators like, by playing a pollination BINGO scavenger hunt.
Between Maker Days we spent the month of April working on the garden! We planned our vegetable garden, planted seeds, cared for our starts, and prepped the raised beds for planting. We are excited to enjoy all of the tasty vegetables when we return in the fall. We are also planning themed gardens in our Brains On! groups which we will start direct sewing in the coming weeks.
We also spent time in April continuing work on our cob oven. It's a labor of love! Some of the Learners loved getting their feet dirty as they smushed together the clay, sand, and hay. We have just a little more work to do before the oven is complete.
We spent time on Design Challenges as our Learners listened to a read-aloud and then had to problem solve to complete a challenge. We had incredible tree house models built that had to be freestanding off the ground and include a method to get into the treehouse. We practiced focusing by utilizing a growth mindset challenge correlating to the book ish by Peter Reynolds.
We continue to be impressed by the creations of our Learners during Maker Days as their confidence grows with utilizing the design process.
In ukuleles we continue to work on our personal music choices and our chords. Many students have begun to learn to read and play tablature music with Row Row Row Your Boat being our beginner song of choice.
The Silver Arrows worked hard planning, researching, and exploring this month. April began with seed cultivation and garden planning. The focus in Math lessons were fractions. Throughout the month, learners practiced their knowledge of fractions with measurement tools and games. During English, learners focused on poetry as they learned about types of poetry and parts of a poem. Learners created a collective Ancient Civilization Timeline of Agriculture that highlights types of technology used still today. They worked individually and in groups to research a civilization and create a diorama or model. Their hard work will be on display for the upcoming community day!
Learners observed the growth of their very own Painted Lady caterpillars and recorded their findings in their Nature Journals daily. Some Silver Arrows are leading their own Choose Your Own Adventure and teaching the art of stained glass with younger learners.