This morning, we had a great time with John doing a musical storytelling activity. We incorporated garden-based learning with different art forms, such as language arts, visual arts and music. Our task was to create a musical story inspired by something that made us “happy” during our CFE at the Orchard Garden. John wanted us to specifically reflect on the concept of play education, and to recognize the difference between playful/ hands-on and instructional learning. The idea of providing supervised exploration for students in the garden and the classroom is important because students then facilitate their own learning. By doing so, they dig deeper into the material and explore their own wonder. As a result, their learning experience is much more enjoyable.
As a big group we began to brainstorm ideas of what made us “happy” during CFE, keeping in mind that every living thing on Earth has an ideal environment where their events/actions intersect with other life forms. John pointed out that as social creatures, we love stories. Our world/environment is filled with them and can be found in forms such as books, plays and movies. However, stories can be too long and can result in readers losing interest. He explained that children are better capable of remembering events and details that occur in a shorter time frame. Therefore, by using a 24 hour timeline (e.g. 6am to 6pm), students will be more likely to better focus their ideas and gain more out of an activity. We were then inspired to create a fun and playful one-day timeframe story about a cilantro plant we transplanted in the garden, after accidentally being dug out of a plant bed full of garlic. We ‘rescued it’ by planting it in a location which would provide more sunlight and space for it to grow. We even named our little Cilantro friend Cedric. Also, in order to bring our story to life, we used various instruments to create a soundscape to highlighting the plot of our story.
Completing this activity will provide students with the opportunity to be playful by exploring their surroundings through imagination. Students will also identify the elements/structure of a story, and have the freedom to be creative in the brainstorming process by utilizing different art forms to express their ideas. Furthermore, this activity could be easily modified for various grade-levels, regardless to whether students are in kindergarten, or in grade 7. For example, for younger students, rather than having them all work on the same aspect of the story, the class can first brainstorm the different parts of the story before being divided into small groups to tackle different aspects of the timeline.
Below is a video of our musical story - "The Flavour of Love - A Modern Day Garden Love Story".
Without a doubt, this is a unique learning opportunity and experience in which teachers can easily incorporate into their future lessons.