BY Beth Kerr
Cape Cod Collaborative – Osterville
This grant is submitted for the Garden Project Outdoor Classroom on behalf of our 55 special needs students.
Our goal is to expand and improve our garden project to provide experiences for our students for multisensory learning opportunities to learn academics, life skills, gain exposure to community service, improve understanding of nutrition and develop a sense of responsibility and team work in community.
The objective for this year is to create an outdoor environmental science station and sensory garden using new and recycled materials. The outdoor classroom also provides opportunities to follow strands in math.
Using our existing garden parameters we will divide part of the garden into sections for academic and sensory learning. These areas include a Science lab which includes equipment for monitoring the weather and rainfall. As well as tools to study plants and insects. Along with the vegetables that we grow we will incorporate a water wall, a smelling garden, a texture garden and a sound garden, including whisper tubes and sound tubes that can demonstrate on a small scale, how sound travels. This area will provide learning experiences for our multi-handicapped students. An area set up with a table and chairs and an outdoor chalkboard will allow classroom teachers to give their students experiences for learning that these students would not otherwise have.
The garden also provides jobs for students to develop and practice pre-vocational and life skills.
How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)
The Garden Project Outdoor Classroom is evaluated by an ongoing sequential timeline and anecdotal observations. Our students participate in a Level Behavior system and data is collected throughout the student’s day. The garden provides students with the opportunity to practice positive and socially expected skills in a cooperative learning environment. The garden has become highly motivational for students. Often students request to participate in various tasks in the garden.
Benefit to the students and the school
“The Friendship Garden”, as we have named this outdoor classroom, is now in it’s fifth year at the Osterville campus of the Cape Cod Collaborative. This unique garden provides a variety of academic and sensory learning experiences for all 55 of our special needs students. Agriculture, math, nature studies, nutrition, history, art and science are approached in a natural and accessible manner. Our students take pride in growing vegetables, flowers and herbs and are able to prepare food with the harvested items.
This year we were able to make and bottle our own herb vinegar and herbed dipping oils to sell and put all of the proceeds back into the garden. Several gallons of green beans were frozen this past summer and will be made into green bean casserole and served at our school’s Thanksgiving feast. Vegetable seeds where harvested and dried by students and will be sown into the garden next spring. As this project continues to evolve, this extraordinary Outdoor Classroom continues to provide unique educational opportunities that transcends the boundaries of the traditional classroom.
Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
The areas that are to be transformed will begin in late fall of this year. Recycled materials will be collected in the fall and the art teacher will begin to prepare the back drop for the water wall. The Science Lab and sensory gardens will be completed in the spring for use as soon as the weather permits. Seeds for the vegetable and flower gardens are stared in March and transplanted in the Spring when the soil temperature has become warm enough for planting. Our garden is used throughout the summer during our summer session. The garden is maintained by students and staff throughout the summer and early fall.