“Is green really green?!” Second-graders recently put their color-sleuthing skills to work in our onsite garden to learn about adjectives. Which they did!
They also learned about a lot more than just adjectives, since nature-based instruction provides incredible opportunities for cross-curricular connections.
Our students start learning about parts of sentences (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc.) already in kindergarten, and in second grade we recently focused on adjectives. (You know, those words that modify nouns, in case you’ve forgotten what the various parts of speech are!). Green is an adjective, and second-graders knew that, but I wanted them to dig deeper and use more descriptive language to talk about the color green – and all of the other colors of the rainbow too!
What better place to go than the garden here at WSCS?
So we headed out to the garden. There’s a lot of green in the garden, and they each found a thumbnail-sized sample of “green.” When we gathered together to examine our findings, we found that there are LOTS of different colors of green in the garden! We lined up our green samples from lightest to darkest to help us see the variations in that one color.
Each student had a strip of paint colors which they used to find matching colors in the garden. They buddied up with a partner to locate their colors. Some colors were easy to spot right away! Some were more difficult. Take blue, for instance. Students quickly realized that there are very few blue items in our garden. How do we solve that problem, I asked, while looking up. Aha! The blue SKY – and it was a brilliant, bright blue sky – all around us!
Another hard one: black. Where do you find black in the garden? It took some thinking, exploring, and looking but then they found black waaaayyyyy at the bottom of the rhubarb plant!
After finding garden objects and items that matched their colors strips, second-graders did think-pair-share “stretch sentences” with their partner. They started by thinking of a simple, short sentence that they shared with their partner. They then kept adding adjectives to the sentence to stretch it out longer and longer!
The garden made this such a RICH experience for us! While our adjectives lesson focused on colors, taking our learning to the garden opened up the world of adjectives for us. Beyond color, we described size, shape, and textures of what we saw. We talked about smells.
The garden is such a rich learning environment for us to experience adjectives.
When we got out to the garden, some students asked if they could take off their shoes (“Sure!”), They felt texture with their feet – cool, soft, damp, and sometimes a bit prickly. When they reflected back on their garden expedition when writing in their journals back in the classroom, they remembered what all of this felt like. Their experiences with the sensory-rich garden made it easier – and FUN! – to find just the right words to describe what they’d seen, heard, touched, and smelled! They were eager to put words to their experience!
Taking lessons outdoors provides other benefits, too. Children who have difficulty focusing in the classroom benefit from having freedom to walk and explore. Tactile learners touch so many things which makes learning more meaningful for them. Students worked cooperatively to locate colored objects and swap sentences. They problem solved when trying to find specific shades of colors on their paint strips. They saw deer tracks and half-eaten pumpkins, and discussed the smorgasbord our garden must have been for furry four-legged visitors! Our garden trip was packed with so much learning – some of it planned, and much of it spontaneous, which is joy-filled learning.
But most importantly, we experienced God through his creation.
We’d recently read the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden story, where we talked about Eden and how beautiful it would have been there. If we’re going to learn about God’s beautiful creation, then where’s a better place to be than in a garden?
It was only fitting that we ended our lesson by singing, “This is my Father’s World!” The words of that song come alive when you sing it outdoors.
The West Side Christian School garden is so great! The children walk through and see the colors in creation, which is a direct reflection of the Creator. Here at West Side Christian School, we are continually focused on directing our students’ attention to the Lord. Experiencing the beauty and wonder of the garden is experiencing the Lord!