Learning with Nature at KLA Schools of Plainfield

KLA Schools of Plainfield

Nature led outdoor classroom KLA Schools Plainfield

KLA Schools of Plainfield has a large garden behind the playground with designated garden beds for each age group from toddlers-school age students. The owners of the school planned a large vegetable garden so all the children can do gardening and experience the life cycle of plants, as not everyone has the opportunity to grow vegetables at home.

Dylan helping to water the garden.

Outdoor painting and sketching of the garden plots.
Ms. Tracy the classroom teacher explains her objective for this project work in the classroom. “We want to help children begin to understand the work that goes into producing food.” When asked what her intention is in incorporating gardening into the curriculum with toddlers, she stated “gardening teaches us so many things. The most important of these is learning to care for and nurture a living thing. The Nido Class will learn all the basics of gardening while caring for and nurturing our garden. They will see first-hand how our acts of caring affect our garden. They will also see how our environment affects their efforts to care for our garden.

Nido Student Susan gives a kiss to the watermelon they are growing.

Students in the Nido classroom who are 15-24 months, have been able to examine dirt, and search for rocks in the garden. They have taken turns in watering it, and have had the opportunity with the art easel outdoors to draw the garden as well. They have done leaf impressions with clay and helped transfer the seedlings to the garden. Late this summer, they were able to harvest the watermelon that has been growing in the garden. They enjoyed making a watermelon smoothie, as well as watermelon-cucumber salsa.

Susan and Scarlett cooking the watermelon, cucumber salsa.

This long-term project has addressed several Illinois early learning standards, and the parents have enjoyed the opportunities to get more engaged in the classroom. The teachers have identified that this project may lead them into future studies of bugs, gardening, weather, or cooking.

Ms. Tracy and Ms. Tiffany with their Nido Class and a watermelon from the garden.

In reflecting on this project, the classroom teacher, Ms. Tracy had this to say “This year the children were very interested on watching the progress and changes in the garden. They would go check on the watermelons each day. After we began harvesting the watermelons we noticed that the children would return to the same spots were we picked the melons and look for them. Then we would help them recall that we had picked them and look for more watermelons growing. We think they will be interested in watching the garden change through all the seasons!”

If you would like more information about this project as it evolved, please contact the School Management at 815-617-9552 or email at plainfield@klaschools.com.