We Grew It! Enrichment through Sustainable Gardening in Elementary School

Melissa Scott Kozak, Athens, GA
Jennifer McCreight, Athens, GA

ABSTRACT: In elementary schools, there is often a lack of education and awareness of sustainability in lower grade levels (Malone & Trantor, 2003; Trexler, Johnson, & Heinze, 2000). In this paper, we will share how kindergarten and first grade children, in a population where 99% receive free and reduced lunch, guide the process of creating a sustainable garden. As part of an interest-based enrichment cluster, they chose the garden project. We argue that using methods that emphasize learning about the environment organically may lead to meaningful encounters with the world that will translate more effectively to young children (Feinsinger, Margutti, Oviedo, 1997; Nieto, 2002).

By providing an account of the ecological literacy development in kindergarten and first graders, a new age perspective will be provided. In this way, we hope to provide a framework for how gardening with young children can provide meaningful learning experiences, while also facilitating information sharing opportunities with families. As teachers, we can facilitate children’s knowledge of the environment as they problem-solve, make decisions, and engage directly with different processes that are part of a working, sustainable garden. We will show how children can use a gardening project to gain awareness of the outside world in ways that will build upon their knowledge of the environment and how they translate what they learn into their reading, writing, and social interactions, and use what they learn to directly engage and interact with the world (Lo, Affolter, & Reeves, 2002; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998).

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Price: $10.00