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Simple things are great for learning!

Gardening with children opens up endless opportunities for them to not only become involved in Mother Nature and everything that goes with growing and caring for living things but it also substantially broadens their wider curricula knowledge too.

Just today eight children and I had great fun sweeping, scooping and composting the fallen leaves in the school grounds.  It needed four rakes and four pairs of hands to hold the builders’ bag, eight pairs of hands to fill the bag up (twice in 30 minutes, good going!) and then ten pairs of hands (I got involved at this stage, lol) to dump the BIG BAG into our recently constructed school composter bin.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

The mathematics side above is obvious, but the numbers are still very challenging for many 5 & 6 year olds.  When one of them asked me how many leaves a big builders’ bag would hold I was stumped!  But also impressed – because they are engaged.  Actually, quite seriously.

By quite seriously I mean they are actively participating.  Having ducked around the “how many leaves are in the bag now, Mr Baston” question (answers on a postcard, please??), I then got the “but why are we doing this Mr Baston” question.

Now, participation at the age of five or six is generally on the child’s terms…. but carefully managed from the senior’s point of view.  That’s my take on parental experience so far anyway lol.  At the beginning of our leaf clearing sesssion today I’d explained that leaves are great for making soil through composting, but in their absolute enthusiam to collect the trees’ shed leaves the children had missed the purpose entirely.

At least I thought so.

Suddenly recollection happened, first one and then others – Hallelujah says I - we know what the leaves are for, soil for next year’s plants, this is what we’re doing, “we are gardening”!

On a perfectly sunny and blue sky November day we’d gathered enough fallen material to build up our school compost heap to great proportions.  All ready for next year’s gardening at Brookside School, Bicester.

And we found out loads more too from the task in hand.

Acorns and oaks springs to mind!

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Eugene Baston