Many Metro Blooms supporters have not heard of Blooming Schoolyards, Metro Blooms’ K-12 outdoor classroom education program. And what a shame that is because I can tell you from experience that it is one of the most enjoyable programs I’ve had the opportunity to participate in as Metro Blooms’ GreenCorps member.
Blooming Schoolyards has occurred in some form or other in more than 12 schools throughout the twin cities, and was expanded quite a bit this year. In the past, we’ve mostly focused on working with 4th and 5th graders as water education seems to fit so well into their science standards. But it seems water education fits well with all science standards, so this year I worked with Kindergartners, 3rd and 4th graders, and an 8th grade enriched science class as well. Because of the age varieties, we added a number of new activities to our typical Blooming Schoolyards program too, all of which focus on water pollution, stormwater management and/or raingardens of course (with a little room for playing in the dirt as well).
So just what did we do this year? Throughout the spring I visited 10 different classrooms and got 250 students jazzed up about raingardens (okay maybe they weren’t all jazzed up, but I like to think some were just keeping it on the inside). Kindergartners at Wenonah learned about what plants need to survive, planted their very own black-eyed susan, and learned how to compare and contrast plants in the school’s butterfly garden. The third graders at Wenonah built a watershed with an assortment of props, mapped the water flow in their schoolyard and identified plants in the butterfly garden. Northrop 4th graders focused on maintenance and did a heck of a job weeding and cleaning up the raingarden that last year’s fourth graders planted. Finally, I got to work with a small 8th grade science class at Keewaydin school who got a mini-version of our landscape designer training and actually designed raingardens for their own homes.
We’re hoping to continue Blooming Schoolyards this summer with some summer school groups, but will probably focus a bit more on games, as it is summer after all. Overall I felt that Blooming Schoolyards was a raging success this past spring, and I didn’t even mind being referred to as the “plant lady.”