When we first purchased the Spur Cross building it was our goal to build a garden and outdoor classroom. Last year was our third year in the building and we were finally at a place to focus our efforts on the garden space!
The project began with fundraising through our annual Fall Festival in October of 2014. All the monies raised went directly to the garden fund. The work officially began soon after. Our first step was working with Sol Landscaping Company. They came in and did the initial consultation and ground work for the space. Raised beds, irrigation lines, and grape vines were established. We recruited the children to get plants in the ground before we went home for Thanksgiving break. Sol Landscaping also donated and planted the trees that provide much need shade. These trees will grow with the school and the children.
Our next step was to get a shed to hold all of the gardening tools. We approached Lowes Hardware store of Cave Creek for any possible donations. We received a great little shed that fits nicely against the wall and houses all our tools. Lowes was able to donate the shed at no cost to us!
With tools and plants in place, the space needed an element of the classroom, something that would tie the lessons of the classroom with the beauty of the outdoor space. We were fortunate enough to have an artist in our Q.I. family. Ms. Kyra, Kendra’s cousin, designed a mural to wrap around the back fence. The mural was a tile mosaic modeled after the Montessori, “Timeline of life”. The mosaic begins just before the Paleozoic era and goes through to the Cenozoic Era. She designed the mural with colorful plants and animals unique to each period. The students are able to recognize the images and relate it back to their history studies. Kyra planned the design so that students would be able to assist in the completion of the project. For about three months she allowed small groups of students to work with her. She had it laid out like paint by number. The students helped break the glass tiles and find their correct position. In that time every enrolled child in the school had the opportunity to be a hands-on part of the project. Now that the project is completed we feel fortunate to have this unique and beautiful piece of art at our school.
The garden has plants, water, storage, and a one of a kind piece of educational art. The students have even used the garden but only for short periods of time. We needed a way to make the space more accommodating to longer work sessions. Ms. Pam and Mr. Todd started searching for shade options. They have found a pergola company that uses metal materials. This will work perfectly in our Arizona climate. We will be able to grow vines on the pergola that will provide shade and beauty. The metal will not rot, rust, or be susceptible to termite damage. The shade will give the students a space to spend longer periods of time. They will be able to work on the garden and also bring extra work to the garden. Teachers will be able to give lessons in the space and the students will have a comfortable place to focus. This pergola is being purchased with money from the Fall Festival, private donations, and the remainder is funded through the school. Construction should be completed by August 2015.
Please come and see our ever growing garden and outdoor space. We believe all of the work and donations will enhance our learning environment. Don’t forget to check in throughout the year to see as the plants grow and the children have an opportunity to put their mark on the space.
Last but not least, thank you for all the donations we received to make this space a true extension of the Montessori classroom.