Monday, February 21, 2011

Adults get an education in teaching children to garden

Master Gardeners might know a lot about plants, but teaching little sprouts how to grow tomatoes is a whole other field. 

That's why the Macomb MSU Extension will present "Let's Get Growing," a four-week class that instructs adults how to teach gardening to young people.
"I've been doing this for about nine years," said 4-H Extension educator Anne Croster. "Participants are usually Master Gardeners who think they might like to work with kids, or teachers who want to have a school garden. I've even had some from a church group take the class."

Metro Newspaper Services photo
The Macomb MSU Extension's "Let's Get Growing," class will show you
how to teach gardening to children in a fun way.

 The course will cover plants, plant parts and their uses, bugs and diseases, soil, water and everything in between including tips for organizing and administering youth gardening programs. 

First lady Michelle Obama has encouraged teachers and families - as part of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity - to start school gardens not only as a means of exercising outdoors but as a hands-on lesson in growing, harvesting and eating healthy foods.

"We're going to need you to be big and strong because we need you to grow up and do important things," said Obama, addressing a group of excited students at a school in Atlanta, and reminding them to eat lots of fruits and

Participants will learn how to make lessons age-specific. For example, one of the projects used to teach kids about garden vegetables calls for them to divide a paper plate into pie pieces. Then they are asked to write on each pie section the name of a plant they would use to make a salad. Since kindergarteners cannot read, teachers are shown a different approach for them.

"Instead of writing the words, they can draw a picture," Croster said. 

The course is all about having fun with gardening.

Since adults and kids both love to snack, at the end of most classes, participants enjoy a treat having something to do with the lesson, such as salad or Croster's famous dirt dessert featuring graham crackers, pudding and gummy worms. Even on the day everyone learns about ponds, Croster has something in mind. "I have a lot of fun teaching the Master Gardeners. A lot of the lessons are a real stitch," said Croster, who started the program after retiring as a high school social studies teacher.

What's nice about the classes is that they give gardeners, teachers, parents and church groups a chance to network with established Junior Master Gardeners and leaders of other school garden programs.

Let's Get Growing will be held at Macomb MSU Extension offices, 21885 Dunham Road in Clinton Township, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 24-March 17. Cost of the course is $50. To register by the Feb. 22 deadline, contact Roberta at (586) 469-6431.

Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or e-mail them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

1 comment:

  1. A treat for parents who want to bond with their children through gardening, check out the book Growing Up Green by Charles E. Majuri http://www.perfscipress.com/growing-up-green/