/ After school gardening!

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Pete Ford on 16 Dec 2013
I'm a governor at a middle school in Milton Keynes, and have been asked if I would restart their after school gardening club. I have been gardening for years so the knowledge is there, but getting the children interested and involved is quite different and daunting.
Anyone else involved with after school clubs etc with any advice?
ByEek on 16 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

Not done any after school clubs, but did opt to sort out a bed at school during Rural Studies class as a way of getting out of the class room and really enjoyed it. There is little to dislike about gardening as we know, but in planning your first few sessions, try and have a few different activities in one session so that those attending can get a good feel for it. Getting everyone to do two hours of digging on their first session is likely to put off most. So a bit do digging followed by a bit of sowing or raised bed construction and so on. You can also involve the kids by getting them to select which veg or varieties they want to plant. If it is raining, ideas on how to and where to plant things can be drawn up (we found our original allotment plan the other week).

Have fun. It sounds like a really cool project to be involved in. I am sure teachers will help you with the control aspect.
Hardonicus - on 16 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

Planting some cheeb would be a good way into their hearts and minds.
kathrync - on 16 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

Some thoughts from doing this kind of thing with Brownies:

- Try to interest kids who may not be specifically interested in the gardening per se. Think about putting up bird feeders or planting specifically to encourage birds or butterflies. Keep bird and bug identification books to hand

- Growing food always goes down well

- Lots of RHS gardens and the like run schools competitions - might be worth a look to have a concrete goal to aim for
tlm - on 16 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

I was also thinking that you could grow things that they really get to see grow, fast growing stuff like sunflowers, or runner beans, where they could have 'their' plant and take ownership of it? That they could start things off in small pots, or even in a glass jar with blotting paper, where they can see the roots and stem emerge from a bean, before potting them on...

How many kids are involved and how old are they?

How about a pond as well, if you want the wildlife thing going?

How about looking at making the garden environmentally friendly (organic, bird boxes, wasp nests, hedgehog dens, plants that can be eaten by various birds and insects etc)?

There is also masses of information and resources available:
Pete Ford on 16 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

Thanks all, I will be trying to make the sessions as varied as possible. As a club it's always seemed to be a last ditch saloon where all the kids who don't get their first, second or third choices end up, but I'm up for the challenge.
We've got a pond in the garden now that's under used which I can incorporate into any extension of activities...pond dipping etc. I can also bring bug hunting and bird watching into the project, all your ideas. I thought they may like to design spring and summer flower beds around the school too.
Thanks again
Pete Ford
ranger*goy on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

My dad helps out with the school gardening club. They try and grow veg that will be ready before school breaks up. He gets the kids to plant seeds in cell trays, gets it going in his greenhouse and then it can be planted out and its ready by July.

I think they all just like getting their hands dirty so anything goes really.

Yanis Nayu - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

Can't help, but sound great! Good on ya!
MargieB - on 22 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:

We've a school garden. We filled large tyres with soil and topped up with compost which allows children to plant around a space as there are footpaths in between and better than ground level beds. We have a fence around it useful for placing tyres next to and then train peas up against fence. we built a small greenhouse using a simple a wooden structure and clear plastic bottles( look up on internet about this eco construction] and got parents to send in Tesco/ Morrisons vouchers for garden tools when they put on that type of promotion. Its hard in the highlands but the garden club is twinned with school playground clean up days to promote pride and care for environment and teach litter awareness. We also had a child with extreme problems and the garden club was all he seemed to concentrate on.
olliebenzie - on 23 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:
I started something similar at a PRU and the kids got engaged when we said we would grow hanging baskets and they could use ICT (cross cirricular) to advertise it. They were allowed to choose something buy something for their social room with the profits. It ticked quite a few boxes.
gdnknf on 23 Dec 2013
In reply to Pete Ford:
Hi Pete.

Here are a few general suggestions:

Allow the children to direct the flow of the club. If a child comes in with a worm/snail/caterpillar in a butter tub they found in their garden for example, getting the rest of the children excited and interested, prepare to drop your plans to look at their mini beast that day. In my experience, a child led process is more engaging and will assist with group control to help develop their learning.

Make the experience as hands on as possible, get them all working on a task. If there is only space for a couple of children to be planting seeds, get some filling watering cans, some preparing bird scarers, some preparing another bed. Keep everyone busy and you're onto a winner! Get your hands dirty! - but don't forget to wash them.

Get out whatever the weather. A lot of children don't get outside much these days for many reasons and outdoor learning should be encouraged wherever possible. Snow, rain? No problem. We all have coats and kids are good at playing games, get them moving.

Remember, you are in charge. As a governor you probably already know the behaviour policy at the school but if not, get a copy and use it exactly as would be used in school. Even though it's an after-school club, the rules still apply and if they already know the rules, use them. Give an inch and children will take a mile!

Have fun most importantly. If you're having fun, the children will most likely be having fun too.
Post edited at 22:51

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