North Branch Arts/Creativo!
North Branch Arts and Creativo! Academy are constantly striving to make our outdoor classroom more imaginative and explorative for the whole community.
It is our goal to engage as many children as possible with the urban nature surrounding them. To accomplish that goal, this year we constructed a large sandbox to further develop outdoor playspace for the preschool. In addition to it being an exciting new element to the garden, the sandbox allows preschoolers to engage in scientific inquiry: What happens to the texture of sand if it gets wet? What kind of containers can hold grains of sand and why?
Creativo also added a multi-level water table for the preschoolers. This teaching tool allows for the students to explore the chemical properties of water in a fun but educational manner, and to cool down in an exciting way during the hot summer months.
We were also excited to incorporate a second composting system this year. In addition to the composting tumbler that we added in 2012, our community garden teachers are now exposing children to the process of vermicomposting-how worms can help break down organic material into fertile soil for our vegetable garden. Preschoolers can now see the full life cycle of our food: how it transforms from food waste at the end of a meal to food for our worms and, in time, to food for plants.
We have maintained our vegetable beds since the garden’s conception but were excited to add some new elements this year. We built an herb garden of rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage that the preschoolers were able to incorporate into meals and snacks. We donated all vegetables to local food pantries after the students harvested them and also planted new blueberry bushes so that the preschoolers could be exposed to both annual and perennial plants.
Finally, over the summer, North Branch Arts initiated a new program for families in the neighborhood, the Family Nature Club. This program utilized the natural space of the community garden to immerse parents and children in a naturalist learning experience. Activities included composting workshops, art projects utilizing natural materials and storytelling, with a focus on nature and the environment.
New photos coming soon!