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Bedford Village Fourth Graders Count, Measure, Write and Draw During Garden Workshop

BVES students hold up their harvest

“Ohh, it’s so good!”

“It’s a little spicy.”

“Oh, that’s disgusting.”

Three fourth-grade students at Bedford Village Elementary School had very different reactions to tasting chive flowers during a recent garden workshop. Throughout their session, students tasted and harvested fruits and vegetables, planted seeds and drew garden maps.

“It’s important to understand what’s in the garden,” said Abby Einstein from Kaleidoscope Garden Design, who was facilitating the workshop. “It’s important to know what each plant gives to the soil and what it takes from the soil. We pay attention to how things grow, and we rotate where they are planted.”

Einstein pointed out the green beans, noting that they give soil nitrogen.

“When we harvest those, we’ll want to think about what needs nitrogen and plant it there,” she said.

While one group of students planted radish seeds and harvested ripe and ready green beans, chives, tomatoes, celery and more, a second group worked on their garden maps.

“Our garden is laid out in beds,” fourth-grade teacher Linda Jahier told her students. “There are rectangles filled with different crops. So, when you map it, you will walk around drawing the different boxes.”

Students were reminded to take special note of how things were growing while they made their maps and to hypothesize about why or why not certain crops were growing well.

“Those tomatoes aren’t growing so great,” pointed out Harlan White. “There’s no sun.”

While their classmates were taking special note of what and how things were growing, the other group was planting radish seeds and learning to use a non-standard measuring tool.

“Check this out,” Einstein said. “Nail to knuckle is an inch on most fingers. Try it. Put your finger up next to one of your friends’. It’s about the same size, right?”

Students gasped as they realized that no matter who they compared with — whether a student or an adult — the size was about the same. They used this new way of measuring to make sure the seeds they planted were about an inch deep.

The experience was not only multisensory but multidisciplinary, with students counting, measuring, writing and drawing while they explored the school’s garden.

“There are a lot of fruits and vegetables here,” noted Michelangelo Mastrogiacomo with wonder. “I thought there were only like six different kinds, but there are more like 12.”

The garden workshop was in keeping with the Bedford Central School District’s commitment to “active, connected learning” because it provided students with a hands-on learning experience, the opportunity to work together and to ask questions.

BVES students map gardenBVES students measure with fingers