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Re: [teacherartexchange] Student Gardens


From: M. Austin (whest177_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Jul 12 2007 - 10:46:04 PDT

I have helped create 2 gardens with students. One was transforming an old
lot into a garden. In that one, the artistic part was simple - we made
stepping stones & each student put their handprint & wrote their name. We
also painted a couple of trash cans.

The second garden is a sensory garden in front of the school, using native
plants that invoke different senses. For the art part, we took large
cardboard tubes & cut them into rings, and used those as the mold for the
stepping stones (our 2nd ones are about 3" thick) Students were allowed to
decorate however they want - stones, marbles, toys, etc. Students painted
rocks to include. This is a K-2 school, and this garden was just started
last year.

Mosaic benches, the stepping stones, maybe student created plant markers
(out of clay?). I was going to make sun catchers & wind chimes/mobiles with
my students, but then I got transfered out of that building. If your garden
area has a wall beside it, can you paint a mural on it? For the pond idea -
I had always wanted to do that, but we kept running into safety issues -
such as keeping young children out during summer, and who takes care of it
when school is out. Another idea in place of the water garden is to do bogs
(fill the pond with a mixture of dirt/rocks & plant water plants such as
cattails & arrowheads (those are native in Kansas), or to do a pondless
waterfall where the waterbasin is covered with a screen & rocks. I can send
more details if these ideas interest you at all. The more native plants you
use in your garden, the less work it will be to keep up in the long run.
Some areas offer grants to schools to do this - in our area several schools
received an "OWL" grant.

You mentioned a butterfly garden - are lizards native in your area? A lizard
retreat is really neat! A cactus garden is also neat. I am going to
reiterate again how planting native plants is the way to go. They adapt to
your natural surroundings, so during vacation they will not need anyone to
water them (after the first couple of years). I would also go to a nursery
or landscape company & talk to them about your ideas. They can help you with
the live plants, and offer guidelines on making your garden successful. Good
3-12 Kansas Art Teacher
HS Digital Communications
Technology Integration Specialist

> I just had an informal meeting with my new Principal and he has some
> exciting future plans for our elementary school (K-5).
> One idea he focused on was installing a student garden with public
> artwork. I do not have any experience creating a public garden, can anyone
> offer some ideas to me please? Materials used, basic plan, etc. He has a
> sculpture background (yeah!) and he mentioned found object sculpture.
> In addition to that I'm thinking mosaic benches, a path with student made
> stepping stones, butterfly garden, bird-bath, my Principal mentioned a
> pond - possibly rocks to sit upon to write and draw. I don't know how big
> he is thinking but I want to have some ideas sketched out before
> September.

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