Post #2. Design a Garden - with KIDS!
Updated: Feb 13
It started with a dream...
Come along with me on my journey to write a book (working title: "Growing Gardeners") that will inspire and encourage children to design their own gardens and outdoor spaces.
There are many resources out there about designing a child-friendly garden, gardens for children and experiential gardens for young students. This is NOT that.
This blog tracks my journey of finding ways to inspire and encourage children to design their own gardens (real or imagined) while also learning about Landscape Design and Landscape Architecture.
It started with a dream...
I am walking down the hallway of what appears to be an elementary school of some kind. There are floor to ceiling windows that fill the hall with natural light. Right outside the window are fine textured grasses that sway gently in the breeze coming off the lake behind. Children of all ages are seen running through the grass, canoeing, collecting bugs, drawing and taking photographs.
There is a feeling of joy and light all around. I cannot help but smile to myself hearing the sound of chittering birds and children's laughter.
The walls of the hallway are covered in colourful paintings for as far as I can see. Some of the images I recognize right away: mountains, sunsets, beach shorelines, fishing docks, fields, forests and lakes, etc. Then, there are others that look like they should be easily recognizable but my mind cannot quite grasp what they are paintings of. Fish? Flowers? Animals? Trees? Tree rings?
I look at one and wonder what it was the young artist was trying to express on the page. Though I cannot name the item in the painting - I can FEEL the emotions expressed by its young creator: Connection, Unity, Admiration, Gratitude, Joy, Peace, Belonging, Curiosity and others. This young person's masterpiece makes me feel the way I want to make others feel - and I wake up.
Photo Credit (Below): https://unsplash.com/photos/Rem_P2u_eIQ?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink
Upon waking, I immediately opened my phone to the all-knowing Google App (I know its a bad habit to check your phone as soon as you wake-up but I was too excited!). I was curious to find a book about teaching garden design (not just painting landscapes) to children. I found one activity book (see RESOURCES at the bottom of this post) and lots of resources for how to build landscapes and outdoor play areas for children to enjoy - but I did not find anything that presented Landscape Design and Landscape Architecture concepts in a child's language.
In Ontario and specifically through Landscape Ontario (of which I am a member), there is a big push to spread awareness to high school students about our industry and profession. Two main reasons for this is the shortage of workers available (and willing) to do the work and a general lack of awareness of Landscaping and Landscape Architecture as a profession.
I got to wondering...if we are going into highschools to connect with students about the importance of nature and our profession...why couldn't we go into elementary schools as well?
This question has me asking MORE questions:
HOW CAN I CONNECT THE ESSENTIALS OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN WITH THE ONTARIO K-8 CURRICULUM? (where do I find curriculum resources? what is currently being taught regarding nature, horticulture and art? how will I present the material differently to each grade level? etc.)
WHAT TOOLS CAN I USE? WHAT MATERIALS DO I NEED? (Paint [of course!] but what else? Graph Paper? Blocks? Lego? Foam? Sand? Models? Doll Houses? Natural/Found Materials? Recycled/Reused Materials? etc.)
HOW WILL I DELIVER MATERIAL TO GATHER EXPERIENCE AND INFORMATION? (one workshop at one hour long? a series of workshops? an afternoon? host an information session? can I provide something online/virtually? etc.)
Below are RESOURCES that I come across, as I come across them:
Activity Book by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) ASLA Activity Book for Kids
Art with Mr Hall BLOG: http://artwithmrhall.blogspot.com/
Children & Nature Network: https://www.childrenandnature.org/about/
Teaching STEM through Horticulture: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1122909.pdf
Using Gardening to promote STEM: https://blog.kaplanco.com/ii/gardening-to-promote-stem
TVO Learn Curriculum-Based Resources: https://tvolearn.com/
Ontario Elementary Curriculum: https://www.dcp.edu.gov.on.ca/en/curriculum#elementary
Are you teaching garden design to your students?
Are you a parent teaching the concepts to your child(ren)?
I want to hear from YOU! Get in touch!
I'd love to hear your stories, struggles, lessons and explorations in this area.
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