Digging Deeper Conference

 

IMG_9236.jpgI am so excited to be presenting at the “Digging Deeper Conference” that will be held at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. This will be a one day conference on Thursday, May, 24th 2018 and there are three different tracks participants can register for!

 

Click here to register for the Digging Deeper Conference

“Digging Deeper Conference”
Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 9am – 4:30pm
Looking for ways to integrate your classroom curriculum in the garden? Or want to learn some new strategies with introducing new foods or building confidence and strategies in cooking with our youngest age groups? Or are you hoping to connect with a local farm and not sure how or want to hear how others are connecting classrooms to farms? Join us on Thursday, May 24th for a day to discover how to bring these connections back to your classroom and everyday curriculum for place-based learning at its best!  Choose your track for the day to fully immerse yourself. Each track offers endless opportunities for learning!

Tracks

Please note that you will pick one track during the registration process. This will help support a stronger learning community and give participants ample time for experiential learning, discussion, and peer networking. View each track description below.

Fun with Local Foods Track with Abbie Nelson and Marissa Watson

Preparing and serving new foods can be more fun and less arduous, with a few tools and by involving kids in the process. In this workshop we will explore how people develop food preferences, and how we change these preferences. We will share innovations in purchasing, serving, and educating kids about local foods through simple activities and recipes.

Participants will:

  • Learn how we develop food preferences and how to introduce new and local foods to kids.
  • Practice incorporating nutrition education into food-based experiences.
  • Learn how to find and properly procure local foods.

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Gardening All Year Track with April Zajko

Do you want to help children connect to the natural world through gardening, composting, and observing the seasonal changes? This workshop will explore how to implement a year-round study of plants, using both indoor and outdoor gardening activities. Participants will leave with many ideas for creating engaging learning environments, lists of suggested plants for children, science experiments, tips for sensory explorations, and meaningful ways to get young children growing plants all year!
Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will discuss ways to incorporate both indoor and outdoor gardening concepts into preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
2. Participants will investigate a variety of ways to create engaging learning explorations to teach characteristics of living organisms and local ecosystems.

Kid Friendly Farmyard Track with Michaela Ryan and JoAnne Denee

Join Michaela Ryan and JoAnne Dennee in exploring the range of what farm and garden tasks are conducive to young helping hands. This will include an off-site visit to the farmyard at New Village Farm to explore tending chickens, sheep, cows, and goats, along with milking a cow or goat and collecting eggs. We will navigate these tasks together while facilitating a conversation about what it can be like to do so with young children. We will touch on essentials like allowing time and breath for observations with all the senses, embracing the cycle of life including birth and death, managing children resistant to engage, and building a partnership with a farm. As time permits we will explore managing other tasks with children in nature and gardens because we feel that a mix of animal care and earth care strike a nice balance of building an eagerness to work and participate in the world in young children.

A few words from past participants:

I thought the format was so well thought out.
I loved it! I didn’t feel rushed or on a time limit. It helped me to be in the moment.
This experience was super inspiring. You are deeply passionate folks teaching an important subject in a beautiful place – keep them coming!
The flow worked really well – keynote speakers, breaking out into smaller groups & moving!, coming back together, breaking out again!

Facilitator Bios:

Abbie Nelson is the NOFAVT, Food Systems Education Director, and Program Director of VTFood Education Every Day (VT FEED), a 18 year-old statewide Farm to School Project of NOFAVT, and Shelburne Farms. Abbie serves as a statewide school food system consultant and trainer involved in aspects of local purchasing and professional development with school food service. She has been working with statewide partners to advance access to local foods in institutions as a member of the VT Farm to Plate, and the VT FTS Network.
Marissa Watson is the NOFAVT School Food Programs Coordinator for VT FEED. She came to NOFA after falling in love with the Farm to School program in Georgia, where she got her MS in Agricultural Economics. For the past five years, she has worked as a farm manager for two different farms in South Carolina. Her career began in Washington, DC, with National Geographic and Discovery Television. While travelling to produce a television series, she dove into books about organic agriculture, and became hooked on the idea of making fresh food available to children and families. She enjoys working in the community to connect all kinds of people with local, organic food. She lives in Burlington with her pup Wilson, who is always a handful and always ready to play outside.
April Zajko, M.Ed. is the founder and owner of April’s Teaching Tree, which aims to help parents and educators renew their interest in connecting children to nature. April has led professional development programs for hundreds of teachers and child care providers throughout the state of Vermont, and is now exploring ways to share her courses with people around the globe ~~through curriculum downloads and online e-courses. April is a Licensed Early Childhood Educator and Reading Specialist. Her bachelor’s degree was earned at the Delaware State University, and her master’s degree was earned at University of Virginia. Her passion for lifelong learning has led her to numerous studies through Shelburne Farms, Fairy Dust Teaching, and Heart Space Yoga…as well as many other programs. Through the last 17 years, April has taught early education programs in both public and private schools. Currently she teaches preschool at a public school in Vermont. Through these various roles, she has learned many ways to connect to children and families, and loves to share this knowledge with other interested professionals. April hopes to share meaningful ways to use nature to meet early childhood standards through play-based learning, nature infused materials, and joyful learning environments!
JoAnne Dennee grew up spending her childhood afternoons bike riding away to the far edges of her suburban neighborhood to find respite in the embracing shelter of the thickets and wild places.  She has witnessed the great joy and transformative power when children experience their lives through farm, food, and forest education. She began growing food organically in children’s gardens for 9 years before moving to VT to teach at Poker Hill and then Lake Champlain Waldorf for the next 35 years. Author of  In the Three Sisters Garden she currently creates visual art from her gardens, mentors teachers in biodynamic gardening with children, and develops nutrition based programs for Common Roots VT.
Michaela Ryan: Growing up on a sheep farm in southern Quebec, Michaela Ryan found her way back to farming after spending a few years as an Environmental Engineer, a full time mother and then a Grief Recovery Specialist.  She is the founder of New Village Farm, a Biodynamic Learning Farm right here in the backyard of Shelburne Farms. She particularly enjoys working with cows and vivacious children who need a little more space than their modern upbringings often afford them.  Her inspiration to start an education farm was born of her deep love of growing up on a farm and her awareness that she is unlikely to have made it this far without the strength of will, love of the outdoors, and fundamental sense of belonging that came of it.  She is excited to share with you what nuggets of wisdom have come out of her 10 year journey of farming with children.
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Children’s Books to Inspire Gardening

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Little bitty plants for our patio planters…but oh how they grow all summer!

 

Books about Gardening, Vegetables & Plants:

Corn is Maize by Aliki

Eating the Alphabet – Lois Ehlert

Food Alphabet by David Drew

From Eye to Potato (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: How Things Grow)

How Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

How Does your Garden Grow? (Little Golden Book)

Inch by Inch – The Garden Song by David Mallet

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

Mr. Hobson’s Garden by Marc Gave

Nuts About Nuts by Diane Wilmer and Paul Dowling

Over in the Garden by Jennifer Ward (insects)

Plants by Terry Jennings

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Vegetables in the Garden – A First Discovery Book

 

Books about Flowers:  

Flowers: A First Discovery Book

How to Grow a Sunflower by S. Karavis and G. Matthews

It’s Science! Plants and Flowers

Let’s Look at Flowers

Sunflower House by Eve Buntin

The Reason for a Flower by R. Hellert

 

Books about plant parts:

Flowers/Fruits/Leaves/Roots/Seeds/Stems by Vijaya Khisty Bodach

Books about Beans:  

Growing Beans by Peter & Sheryl Sloan (uses egg shells)

One Bean by Anne Rockwell

Scarlette Beane by K. Wallace

 

Books about Seeds:

A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by J. Richards

A Seed is Sleepy by D. H. Aston

From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler

From Seed to Pumpkin by W. Pfeffer

How a Seed Grows by H. Jordan

I’m a Seed by J. Marzollo (compares pumpkin to marigolds)

Just a Seed by W. Blaxland

Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants by B. Worth

One Little Seed by E. Greenstein

Seeds Like These by Paki Carter

Spring is Here! A Story About Seeds by Joan Holub

The Carrot Seed by R. Krauss

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

We Plant a Seed (Troll First Start Science)

 

 

Books about Fruit:  

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti

Fruit – A First Discovery Book.

Orange Juice by B. Chessen, P. Chanko

 

Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas for gardening with children:

Favorite Plants for Children

*Involve the children in picking out the seeds or plants! Their sense of ownership and excitement for gardening is amplified when they are decision makers in what is planted.

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* Keep kids involved in ALL steps — selecting, buying, planting, caring & harvesting! Include composting too so children see the full cycle. One of my children’s favorite job is turning the soil and adding fresh compost to the garden bed. It’s fun to see that rich dark soil and imagine all the wonderful things that will grow there!

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Indoor plants spider plants, hens & chicks, Swedish ivy, African violets, Boston Ferns, and Venus Fly Traps are all great plants for kids to tend year-round. Indoor plants help improve the air quality and children benefit by caring for live plants.

IMG_1652Flowers — are always enjoyable because of their color and aroma, favorites include:

Geraniums a favorite because they will bloom nearly all summer and are easy to overwinter indoors. I love that they even bloom indoors in the winter!

Marigold – easy to grow, come in wide variety of sizes and colors, and easy to dry & collect the seeds. I like to start marigolds in March to be ready as Mother’s Day gifts in May!

Sunflowers– easy to grow, select a variety of sizes from 3 foot to the Mammoth 12ft variety, lots of different colors. Observe them throughout the day to see how the flower moves to gather sunlight. When done flowering, cut off the flower head and dry for several weeks. Collect seeds by shaking them into a bag. Use to feed the birds or save for the next planting season.

Hollyhock– grows very tall and once established comes back year after year

Snapdragons – unique shape, imaginative name, and beautiful colors

Lambs Ear – is a fuzzy and soft plant that is silvery-green. Kids love to rub the velvety leaves!

 

Herbs — are fragrant, easy to grow, and most are perennials (which means they come back each year). Make a Pizza Garden with oregano, thyme, and basil. Dill is easy to sprout and the foliage is feathery and unique. Mints should be grown in a separate patch so it can grow untamed, just don’t plant too near to your garden because it can be invasive. Mint comes in a wide variety including orange, chocolate, lemon, and pineapple.

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Vegetables — are wonderful to grow to show children where their food comes from. Often reluctant eaters will eat the vegetables that they have helped to grow. Favorites include lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peas, beans, and pumpkins. Radishes are quick to grow and help satisfy kid’s eagerness to pick something!

Fruit — berries are a favorite for children. Strawberries are an early crop so consider having at least a few plants. Blueberries, black berries, and raspberries are wonderful to pick fresh with children. Once established you will be picking these for years to come. Think long term and plant an apple tree!

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Children will enjoy the plants that you enjoy. Help them select a few and get their fingers into the soil!

Check out my Pinterest board for more information about gardening with children:

Gardening with Children: Tips & Tricks

Decide what you define as a successful garden.

If this is your first year gardening with children, my best tips is to start small so that the garden will be manageable and enjoyable. You do not want it to become one more chore and become a burden! IMG_2439

  • Make the garden a child-centered project by involving the kids in every step of the process. From selecting the plants in a gardening catalog, planting seeds, getting the soil read, planting, tending, and harvesting. Allow the children to be part of the entire process!
  • Take a field trip to select and buy plants. If that isn’t feasible, have children help you select plants by circling or cutting out pictures from a seed catalog.
  • If this is school or child care project, try to involve the families in your program by asking parents to each send in one or two plants for the garden, to volunteer to come in to plant, tend to the garden in the summer, and/or to help with the fall harvest.
  • Have the children help you prepare the pots or turn the garden, and then let them help you plant the seeds or plants.
  • Young children do better with larger seeds such as pumpkin, squash, sunflower, or corn. Tiny seeds will often end up clumped together, but you can always thin the seedlings later.
  • Children will help you maintain the garden if you help them see it as fun and enjoyable.
  • Keep kid tasks in the garden to 10 minutes. They will be more excited to help in small chunks of time, such as weeding for ten minutes in the morning and 10 more minutes at lunchtime, then asking them to do a repetitive task for longer.
  • Teach kids how to weed and how to recognize which plants to pull. Make a game of who can fill their bin first, and whoever gets their bin full helps the others.
  • Photograph and journal about the garden throughout the growing season. Keep these mementos out for the kids to view throughout the year so interest in gardening is maintained.