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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Books for Nature-Inspired Teachers

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Full bookshelves are so inviting…don’t you just want to settle down and get reading?

Professional Books for Nature-Inspired Teachers

Compiled by April Zajko, M.Ed. (updated March 2017)

 

A Moving Child is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think (Birth to Age 7) by Gill Connell

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom and Richard Louv

Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education by David Sobel

ECO Literate: How Educators are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind by Linda Buzzell

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray

Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy

I’m OK! Building Resilience through Physical Play by Jarrod Green

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning by David Sobel and Patti Bailie

Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities by David Sobel

Play the Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous Kids by P. Houghton and Jane Worroll

Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Cornell

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy by Edward M. Hallowell

The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

Theories of Childhood (2nd edition) by Carol Garhart Mooney

What If Everybody Understood Child Development? By Rae Pica

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For the love of fiddle heads…

imageThere is something magical about fiddleheads. That first sprouting of life. Vibrant green and spiraling. My children love to forage for fiddle heads in the forest on our land. It’s a sure sign that spring really is happening…which is a long and patience testing process in northern Vermont.

This year’s harvest was gathered by my children and enjoyed at several meals this week. It’s wonderful to see my children’s delight in brining home something they’ve wild crafted on their own, and even more delightful to watch them devour a food that many would find “too earthy”.

The joy of feasting on natures bounty with my family fills my heart. ❤️

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:

Gardening Book for Teachers

This booklist contain my favorite ‘grown-up’ books for learning about gardening with children. In another post I will share my favorite children’s books!

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Bucklin-Sporer, Arden. (2010). How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers.

Dannenmaier, Molly. (1998). A Childs Garden: Enchanting Outdoor Spaces for Children and Parents

James, Cathy. (2015). The Garden Classroom: Hands-on Activities in Math, Science, Literacy, and Art.

Kiefer, J. & M. Kemple. (1998). Digging Deeper: Integrating Youth Gardens into Schools and Communities.

Lovejoy, Sharon. (2015). Camp Granny.

Lovejoy, Sharon. (1999). Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children.

Moore, R. (1993). Plants for Play: A Plant Selection Guide for Children’s Outdoor Environments.

Morris, Karyn. (2000). The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening

Tierra, Lesley. (2000). Kid’s Herb Book: For Children of All Ages.

Richardson, Beth. (1998). Gardening with Children

Rushing, Felder. (1999). Junior Garden Book- Better Homes and Gardens Books

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

Gardening Resources Online

There are countless garden resources available online but who has time to sort through them. Since I like to integrate plants and gardening into my classroom throughout the entire year, I have created quite a variety of Pinterest boards to gather my inspiration!

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A lovely floor painting celebrating gardening! Shelburne Farms in Shelburne Vermont

 

Check out my Pinterest boards related to Gardening:

“Gardening with Kids” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/gardening-with-kids/

“Garden Study for Preschool” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/garden-study-for-preschool/

“Pumpkin Study for Preschool” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/pumpkin-study-for-preschool/

“Bread & Wheat Study” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/bread-wheat-study-for-preschool/

“Fall & Harvest” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/fall-harvest-study-for-preschool/

“Forest Study” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/forest-study-for-preschool/

“Carrot Preschool Theme” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/carrot-preschool-theme/

“Flowers Preschool Theme” https://www.pinterest.com/azajko/flowers-preschool-theme/

 

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Gardner Supply has a great online tool to help plan a square foot garden: https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/kitchen-garden-planner/kgp_home.html

 

Great website full of gardeing info, sponsored by the National Gardening Association

http://www.kidsgardening.org/

 

Natural Learning Initiative offers lots of great outdoor design elements

http://naturalearning.org/greendesk/tag/15

 

Printable activities for both tots & preschoolers for a flower theme- http://www.2teachingmommies.com/2012/03/flower-unit-expanded.html

 

Seed & Plant Matching Cards – http://www.montessoriprintshop.com/Free_Montessori_Downloads.html

 

Printable mini book about life cycle of pumpkin http://carolbrookebooks.wordpress.com/tag/life-cycle-of-a-plant-mini-book/

 

Printable fruit/ veg shopping list & recipes http://www.activity-mom.com/2012/03/pretend-play-shopping-lists-printable.html

 

Printable Play Dough Mats – http://www.prekinders.com/play-dough-math-mats/

 

Source for the songs listed in this packet – http://www.nuttinbutpreschool.com/gardening-preschool-theme/

 

Printable Play Dough Garden pieces – http://picklebums.com/2013/04/09/printable-playdough-garden/

 

Dramatic Play lists of props for many different themes – http://www.hummingbirded.com/drama-centers.htm

 

Greenhouse printable & Observation log – http://kindergartencrayons.blogspot.com/2013/04/growing-beans-like-jack-did-freebie-fun.html

 

Printable activities for garden theme for tots & preschool kids, great printable song called “What Do Plants Need?” – http://homeschoolcreations.com/gardenpreschoolpack.html

 

Printable pages for a flower shop or grocery store, as well as 16 other themes. The cost is only $4 and would making setting up a new dramatic play area very easy. http://www.pre-kpages.com/dramatic-play-printables/

Gardening Theme Art Projects

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Thumbprint Flowers on a Canvas Bag – perhaps my favorite teacher gift ever was this lovely bag with the names and thumbprints of all my students that year. It’s a treasured keepsake and would also make a wonderful end of the year gift for all the children to receive. (Perhaps make onto t-shirts instead of bags?)

Handprint Sunflowerson large paper pre-draw a 3-4 inch circle. Help kids paint one hand yellow and make 5-6 handprints around the circle forming a sunflower. Pour on some white Elmer’s glue and glue down real sunflower seeds in the center of the circle. Add green stems and create a wonderful bulletin board display of all the children’s hands.

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Watercolor Sunflowers- cut out a sunflower shape, paint with liquid watercolor paints in yellow and orange, then glue on real sunflower seeds. Create the stem with a couple different green colored crepe paper. These make a beautiful classroom display!

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Egg Carton Flowerspre-cut individual egg cups from cardboard egg cartons and thread green pipe cleaners into the cups to form a stem. The children can paint the outside of the cups with watercolor paint and then add tissue paper to the inside of the cups using white glue. Add leaves to the stems too. (Great tool for teaching about parts of a plant)

Beans & Grain Mosaicscut out small squares from corrugated cardboard. In small cups, color Elmer’s glue several different shades. Have the kids make mosaics by coating their cardboard with glue designing it with different grains (wheat, rice) and dried beans (black, kidney, lima, etc.)

Bean Mosaic Sun-catchers – lay a small plastic lid on the table, fill the lid with Elmer’s glue, and lay in a variety of seeds. Make a pattern or design or just put in a variety. Allow to dry overnight. Pop it out of the lid, make a small hole in the dried glue, and add a ribbon so you can hang it in a window.

Stamping with Root Vegetables – prior to the kids arriving, cut potatoes cut into various shapes, cut carrots just using the ends, use the end of the celery & cut turnips in half. Adding popsicle sticks may make the printing easier. Show kids how to dip or paint the stamps and then press onto the paper. Using grocery bags, cut out one side that is print free. Kids stamp to create a garden picture. (In the fall, we do the same project but cut out a cornucopia shape to stamp onto.)

Collage Gardens – kids cut pictures from gardening magazines and seed catalogs and arrange them onto paper into their “Dream Gardens”

Soda or Water Bottle Flowers – use the bottom of plastic bottle to dip into paint or a very wet ink pad, stamp onto paper. Add stems and leaves to make the prints look like flowers.

My Garden Plans – precut paper shapes to resemble garden veggies, kids glue them onto graph paper to make a square foot garden plan.

Shaving Cream Prints spread shaving cream on trays and provide liquid water colors to drip on top. Kids swirl the paint then press a piece of paper on top to make a print. {Paper can be cut into shapes such as flowers, veggies, or trees.}

Tree or Plant Paint Blotto: Day one -fold cardstock in half and drip paint onto one side and press together. Let dry. The next day kids can add details with more paint or add collage materials.

Beaded Flowers –need pipe cleaners, beads in bright colors, and flower cookie cutters to form the shapes. Children add beads to the pipe cleaners then make the flower design by molding along the outside of the cookie cutter. Add a hanger using either dental floss or fishing line.

Painting Coffee Filter Flowers with Ice Cubes – freeze several trays of ice cubes & food coloring or paint with a popsicle stick in it. Show the children how to hold the stick and ‘paint’ with the melting ice cube. Precut the coffee filters for the children or leave as a whole circle. Once dry, add a green pipe cleaner stem.

Glitter Flowers or Plants – Have kids create thick lines of glue on wax paper (or laminate scraps). Use a q-tip or toothpick to make a plant or flower design. Sprinkle with glitter and let dry.

Spin Art Painting – using a salad spinner, lay down a thick piece of paper such as card stock. Drizzle in watered down tempera paint. Put on lid and let kids spin. Check and add more paint, if desired! The paper could be pre-cut into flower shapes.

Bubble Wrap Print Makingcut flower & plant shapes from bubble wrap, brush on paint and then stamp onto paper. Experiment with different sized bubble wrap — jumbo to tiny! Tape the bubble wrap to the table so it’s stationary and you are only moving the paper.

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