It was a joy to be with our newest students and several parents, who went along as drivers and chaperones.
There was lots to love about this trip--the beautiful morning, early fall in the gardens, the enthusiasm of the Cubs. But one things stood out for me: the way this rich learning experience was customized for these five-year-olds.
Our docent was a former Biology teacher, and she had planned well for us.
First, she led small. She didn't try to take us through the entire garden. "Today we're going to explore one part of the garden," she announced when we arrived. So we spent about an hour in the herb garden. It was plenty big enough for these little ones (and for this big one too). A few things well is one way of talking about an excellent, unhurried education.
Second, she led with our bodies. She had the students feel, see, and taste the herbs. She taught us to roll the rosemary in our fingers and smell the aromatic oils. She offered us a black box with a mystery plant inside, and the Cubs had to figure out what Lambs Wool looked like after only touching it--what a great firing of neurons in their five-year-old brains! (And I learned that Lambs Wool belongs to the mint family.) She handed out colored cards and asked the students to find a plant with that color. She passed the mint leaf around and let them name it. "I wonder how you know about mint" led to a demonstration involving chewing gum.
We also visited the Native American herb garden and went inside the Occoneechee Ati which some Eagle Scout had built. I made some new friends inside that hut.