Ok, so imagine your title is “Garden Educator.” Your classroom is a school garden. It’s lush and chock full of natural learning experiences every week as the seasons pass. You work after school with students in the garden, so are not constrained by test scores and standards, though you could easily demonstrate that you meet numerous standards every day. I think this job description sounds pretty good! …its gets a lot more challenging on weeks with forecasts like this one: 70-100% rain every afternoon.
I often use rain days as opportunities to focus more on nutrition. Two great themes are “Parts of a Plant” or “Eating the Rainbow.” Both can culminate in a salad, coleslaw, or stir fry using a vegetable representing each part of a plant or each color in the rainbow. You’d be surprised how well all three of these snacks are received by students from Kindergarden on up. If you run multiple sessions and buy all the ingredients at once, each of these recipes is full of veggies and quite affordable. Check out our coleslaw and stir fry recipes listed at the end of the post!
Both themes are also happily supplemented by “Veggie Twister,” pictured here. While working at Groundwork Somerville, Maura Schorr Beaufait created this amazingly colorful, engaging, and educational Twister board and accompanying spinner. The horizontal rows are arranged by parts of a plant and the vertical rows are arranged by color, so the board can be used for each theme. Maura duct-taped laminated color photos of various produce to a tarp. Commands such as “right foot leaf” or “left hand seed” will twist your students into knots and test their flexibility.
With cooking and games sprinkled into your session, it’s easy to facilitate your students in learning the functions of the parts of plants or how each color helps promote healthy gardeners. Do you have successful rain day garden activities? I’d love to hear about them. Enjoy your next rain day!
Rainbow Stir Fry: Choose a veggie to represent each color or each part of plant. Fry in olive oil with salt or soy sauce. Serve and enjoy! Here’s an example of what we used this year:
- kale, ripped by kids (green)
- red pepper, diced (red)
- garlic, diced (white)
- blue potatoes, diced (blue/purple)
- sweet potato, diced (yellow/orange)
Parts of Plant Coleslaw: Choose a veggie to represent each color or each part of plant. Some categories could be contested below, but we aim for simplicity especially when working with young students.
Stir veggies together with enough mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to make a creamy sauce with balanced sweet, salty, creamy, and sour flavors. Serve and enjoy! Here’s an example of what we used this year:
- cabbage, chopped finely (leaf)
- raisins (fruit)
- carrots, shredded (root)
- celery, chopped (stem)
- broccoli, chopped (flower)
- sunflower seeds for sprinkling on top (seed)