i teach in an urban elementary school. we are lucky to have a nice field for outside recess. but after school, many of the children do not have easy access to outdoors. some have backyards, most do not. the kids are so hungry for time outdoors, and several of them remark "i wish i had a yard," and similar.
i know many organizations are involved in promoting the importance of free play outside, and quiet time observing nature. i would like to get some resources to share with parents that are realistic for working families with no yard (and, in some cases, unsafe neighborhoods.
anyone have any suggestions? i want to help promote this, yet i don't want to be....preachy.
Container gardenning is an option. I have a child with me who has a dark/dirty yard in the inner city,and so he plants a lot in pots here(at my place) to take home.
If there is an option for a garden plot at the school that would be great.
Worm composting can also be fun for kids.
They can get a batch of red wigglers at the pet store for $5,and have the worms in a plastic bin eating veggie scraps. Then they use the worm poo to grow say some herbs,lettuce,or greens. Don't need a lot of space for the greens.Plus they can learn the value of recycling containers for various uses.Greens don't take long at all.
And probably unlikely but a little pond is also great.It attracts so much wildlife.
Speaking of greens there is also the option of SPROUTING. I sprout alfala,radish,and broccoli.I think most kids would like the alfalfa.That just takes a few days,and kids find the growth of the seeds interesting,Speaking of sprouts they can also grow wheat and oat grass for the pets,but be warned they puke it.
Lotus seeds in a gallon puckle jar.Cool to grow.Builid a worm or root grow viewer with plexi glass and wood.Store ones cost $10-20 if parents want to buy those.
Ask the city for a city owned plot.The kids can clean it up and make garden beds for growing stuff.Hopefully no one would mess with it.
Kids love to build forts and stuff.You can even try to gow hide aways using sunflowers,morning glories,corn,various tall grasses.Maybe the school(or again the city) will provide a location for this.The school would be the best option since the kids are already there,and maybe they can just stay on a bit longer to do various outdoor projects.
The kids might have eldery neighbors with yards they have trouble tending too.Some eldery give up their gradens due to the difficulty,but would welcome help to get things going.It still isn't to late to grow the fast stuff.
Hoping you and the kids have a great summer! I would love to read an update to see what you(or the kids) end up doing.
are you in PA? if so, what area?
did you check with DCNR?
also Penn State Extension/4-H?
mattemama, thanks for the detailed reply and the many suggestions. i appreciate it, and will certainnly post back when i try some things.
Yes, I live in NE Berks county, teach in Lehigh (Allentown). I have not checked those places yet. thanks for the suggestions.
also do Lehigh County parks dept and the mayor's office for Allentown- they maybe very willing to work on a project with you-I don't know what you really have in mind by there is also -
there are in Emmaus
now, the "Dicovery/Di Vinci Center" use to (when they were in Bethl. had programs-at least they did for the HSer's) they may have some outlets for you or know of more to put you in-touch with besides what they do) -good luck
http://www.allentownweedandseed.org/ I don't know how much Allentown does, I do know that Phillpsburg has a big program but Easton doesn't do as much
you should post in the local tribe section as well
Is it possible for you to work more time into the day in the outdoors? I know this won't be possible all year due to weather, but in your planning, I wonder how much you could try to connect your activities to being outside--science and art come to mind, and even just reading outside if it is permitted by your school. This way you are not limited to only recess.
The reason I am suggesting this path is because parents may not feel safe having their children outside (where I worked, children could get shot, even during the day) OR they may just be too busy. So, making sure they get the outdoor time at school may be a good surefire way of having their needs met.
Whatever you do in the classroom, you could then send home in a newsletter with extension activities.
2/02, 4/05, 2/07, 11/09, and EDD 12/25/11
Rodale is very close to you. They might have some ideas or even a traveling exhibit that could come to you. They do a lot of education-related things. At the very least you might be able to do a field trip to them. They have organic apple picking at their Kutztown farm in early fall and welcome school groups.