Each spring, as the world is reborn, lawns that have lay snow covered and dormant for the past six months begin to morph into lush meadows; deepening in shades of green as the days lengthen and the sun strengthens. Yet to the chagrin of most green thumbed gardeners, those flourishing fields more often than not become infused with the most commonly identified plant, the bright sunshine yellow petalled dandelion. As the spring season shifts into summer, the yellow petals transform into wispy puff balls which attract the daydreamers who softly close their eyes, inhale, make a wish and with a concerted effort send the delicate seeds into the air in search of new lands where the cycle begins once again.
Like many of our current gardening practices, our desire to eradicate our lawns of dandelions is a relatively new practice. Our ancestors understood and appreciated both their medicinal nutritional value. Ironically, they are actually quite good for our lawn’s health and yet we pluck, pull and chemically treat them. For more information about dandelions, check out this website.
This past week, a number of classes took to our field and decided to use dandelions as a learning tool. Our kindergarten students practiced patience and fine motor control by creating 3D lion heads and a variety of crowns and bracelets. Our grade 8s deepened the crown creation activity by determining the circumference of their dandelion designs. And of course, as I enjoyed the sunshine and connections during our nutrition breaks, I was gifted a number of dandelion bouquets.
Upon reflection of this activities, I was reminded that sometimes the best learning tool is right there in our own backyard ~ in this case literally! Blossoming, changing and tempting us to pick it. In our quest to ensure that we are doing what is in our students’ best interest, we forget that our students don’t always need the pre-packaged set of numbered fraction tiles, needle and thread activites or multi-coloured linking cubes in order to meet the curriculum expectations. We know the value and power of student voice and choice and yet sometimes we look past the simple tools, those that students naturally gravitate towards when selecting materials to create authentic learning experiences.
Have you had similar experiences with simple tools?
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