University Park Elementary

Garden » UP Learning Garden

UP Learning Garden


 

UP Learning Garden Design Considerations:

  • Size
    • Incorporate into existing landscape, small enough for teachers and volunteers to manage, large enough for  shared classroom plots
    • Permit room for growth and addition of additional Texas Wildflowers feature.
  • Raised beds
    • Allows for managing soil fertility and weeds, arranged for easy accessibility
  • Fencing
    • Establishes defined area, incorporated into existing landscape, maintains aesthetic view

What are the goals and mission of the garden?

  • The UP Learning Garden focuses on raising edible crops, to allow students to learn about food production and nutrition.  The garden connects to the curriculum through life science studies, with additional learning opportunities including measurement lessons in math and numerous writing experiences.  Planting and maintaining a garden will build community, collaboration, responsibility, and school pride.

How will students be involved in the garden?

  • Garden plots will be both individual owned by classrooms and in shared community gardens. Students will visit the garden during science and other opportune instructional times, including after school opportunities.  Dallas County Master Gardeners deliver garden lessons and provide ongoing support for maintaining the garden.
  • Watering schedules for the garden plots are managed by classroom teachers for their garden spot.
  • Fourth graders will be able to earn a Jr. Master Gardeners Golden Ray Certificate by completing required coursework.

Additional Garden Design Features identified by UP Garden Explorations Committee have been incorporated:

  • Outdoor classroom meeting area and seating
  • Accessible pathways for moving between beds
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Tool storage
  • Rainwater collection
  • Compost recycling bin
  • Water feature

UP Learning Garden Rules

  • Always respect the plants, animals, non-living things, and each other.
  • Always walk on the paths.
  • Ask before using any tool; use tools properly. 
  • Ask before picking or harvesting anything from the garden.
  • Enjoy observing, learning and working in our garden.

 

The Charter Goals for Establishing a Learning Garden at UP                     

  • Enhance Curricular and Learning Experiences
    • Engage with students in a dynamic  setting that supports the  integration of the learning garden in every core discipline
    • Provide environmentally based education 
    • Realize student gains in standardized test scores as well as science, language arts, math and social studies. (State Education and Environmental Roundtable Report)
  • Interact With Nature Outdoors
    • Increase time with nature and foster the desire to be outdoors for exploration and interacting with nature
    • Increase student understanding of ecology, interconnections in nature, and their responsibility to protect and care for their environment (Mayer-Smith, Bartosh & Peterat 2007)
  • Promote Physical and Emotional Health
    • Increase in students’ nutrition knowledge as well as their preferences for vegetables. (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 102) 
    • Exposure to nature can reduce symptoms of ADHD and can improve cognitive abilities and negative stresses and depression. (Last Child in the Woods)
    • Continue To Implement Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Standards and Best Practices for Teaching and Learning
  • Appeal of the Garden to Everyone—as a Life Skill acquired through First Hand Experience.
    • Time in the garden lends itself to endless possibilities
    • Learn about the life cycles of plants from planting to harvest
    • Foster interest in gardening as a source of food production and enjoyment
  • Foster Partnerships within and among Teachers, Parents, School Volunteers and Community Members.
    • UP PTA, DADS Club
    • Texas Master Gardeners—Dallas County
    • Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service
    • Assist Our Students in Earning JMG and Golden Ray Certifications, as appropriate for their grade level
  • Campus and Grounds Beautification
    • Environmental awareness
  • Children will experience the whole cycle of plant life: seed-seedling-mature plant-harvest-compost excess plant material
  • Children will understand where food comes from and the conditions it takes to grow it
  • Children will develop confidence and competence about growing food themselves
  • Children will eagerly sample and eat what they have grown - healthy food will not be a mystery to them. This positively impacts nutrition.

Thank You to our Partners in the UP Learning Garden

  • Classroom teachers and science curriculum
  • UP Science Specialist: Debra Surko
  • Parent volunteers and resources
  • Dallas County Master Gardeners and Junior Master Gardener Curriculum
  • Lawns of Dallas
  • University Park PTA and DADS Club