Written by Carole Zboray, Middle School Science Department Head, LS/MS Storyteller
For decades, Lower School students have looked forward to fall and their iconic “Planting Day.” This year, on October 4th, promptly at 9:00 a.m., teachers and lower school students from JK to grade 5 could be seen leaving their classrooms carrying spades, hand rakes and bags of bulbs. Each grade level walked to a specific area on campus where holes had been pre-dug by the RPS maintenance crew. The Kindergarten class was buzzing with excitement as their teachers helped them place their bulbs in a hole.
They already knew to plant them “pointy-side up,” and to carefully cover them with soil. When asked why they were planting bulbs, one young girl succinctly answered with a smile, “So we can make this place beautiful so the butterflies will come!” When asked when they will bloom, answers may have varied from “tomorrow” to “next Friday,” but later, two of the Kindergarten students found me, and (as only a young child will do) tugged on my sweater and said with wide smiles, “We know when they’ll bloom! After the winter!”
Moving on to where the older students were, when a teacher told the 4th graders they needed to go on a “hole hunt,” a collective “yesssss!” could be heard. Ah, the simple pleasures of being outside on an Autumn morn; looking for holes, perhaps digging your own, and helping friends. When asked what they were planting, one student held the bulb up and explained, “This is not an onion, although it is in the onion family.” I soon learned that this group was planting Allium.
Do our students remember Planting Day? Come Springtime, it is not uncommon to hear Lower School students walking along paths looking at new blooms and excitedly exclaiming, “I planted that one! I planted that one!” A few of the boys told me that they planted near a “landmark” so they would be certain to find their flower next Spring! Middle School students excitedly recounted for me their own Planting Day experiences from when they were “young.”
Learning, like life itself, should be experiential. Physically participating in an activity stimulates multiple neural pathways that enable information to be more readily available in the future. Parents may want to further reinforce the knowledge and love of nature by having a “planting day” at home as well. Not only will your garden bloom, but so will your children’s wisdom and appreciation for beauty and our environment.