The Knowing Garden

From under our big tree…

18 March 2012
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Week 25: Kitty Kitten Gardeners on the move

Discoveries at TKG
Dear Families,I’ve recently started reading To Kill a Mockingbird as my non-teaching related book.  However, I’m finding myself thinking Scout would love The Knowing Garden.  She spends her afternoons climbing trees, taking on all sorts of character roles, and not thriving in traditional school.  She wonders why she isn’t allowed to read or write, but has to practice flash cards and learn about cows.I picture Scout bouncing around and exploring Wilderness Park with us; picking clovers and tasting them, contemplating why there were fewer turtles on this visit, sounding out “pittosporum tobira” and suggesting how that tree got here from Japan, and naming the ducks which comes in handy for play by play of duck races.  And when a student is absent would she make up a story about how terrible school was that day so her friend wouldn’t feel like he missed anything?  I bet she would.In the classroom I imagine her writing books at her own pace.  She would never be told, “We don’t write in the first grade, we print.  You won’t learn to write until you’re in the third grade.”  (Mockingbird) She could create her own story by drawing pictures, copying, phonetically spelling, pre-phonetic writing, or her own way.  She could have detailed drawings or simple ones, either way they tell her story.  (Next week we will take a look at our books we started and think about what we want to edit or add.)How would Scout feel about meetings?  Would she enjoy coming together to share ideas?  Would it be harder some days than others?  What about leading the meeting?  Would she pick a book, want to play a game, or create a new way of holding meetings?  Whatever the answers may be, she would have a voice, like all students at TKG.  Lately our animals have joined us for the meetings, we love how cozy they make us feel.  We also have a student created order of who leads the meetings.  I will be letting families know when your child is leading the meeting so you can help them prepare.  Some of us love leading the meetings, some like to let everyone lead at the same time, and others like to skip their turn.  I will be supporting those who are a bit nervous about this role so each child has a chance to truly lead a meeting.

Big thanks for the new items that were donated to our classroom.  Students, and their cats and bears, have been very engaged in running a car wash, putting out fires, catching bank robbers, and going on trips by way of the airport.  In the beginning each student played a specific role, but after a student led discussion all students can visit all businesses.  But what if Scout joined us, would this change?

I often wondered how our sprouts would feel about a new Gardener.  We’ve talked about it, but talking about it and experiencing it are two different things.  On Friday I learned how open they are to sharing their space with a new student.  Students offered supplies, were comfortable with her joining play or doing her own plans, and happily jumped in her chair building plan when she offered.  Did we want to get to know her better?  Of course.  Are we excited about our kitten family growing?  You bet!

Like us, Scout seems pretty open talking about her feelings.  I assume she would have loved “Have You Hugged a Monster Today” by Alan Kohen.  It got us thinking about when we are feeling angry or frustrated.  We discussed a lot about when these situations arise and what we do when we are having those feelings.  (I love the simple illustrations, but edited some of the words to get us really thinking about feelings and that it is okay to have all our feelings.)

Scout would also appreciate that learning next week is based on student’s current interests, not cows.  We will be diving into Social Science and looking at jobs and roles businesses play in our community; police and fire stations, airports, banks, hospitals, supermarkets, harbors, schools, homes, etc.  We will raise questions and seek out sources in finding answers.  We will interpret symbols and create our own.  Above all we will see where the Kitty Kitten Gardeners take us.

This week’s park place is Wilson in Torrance.  See you @ the tree house!

Happy Learning,
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson

p.s. Check out even more photos on Flickr!

Growth: Themes & Plans

Week 25 will focus on the following developmental concepts:


Construct maps and models of neighborhoods (history and social sciences: K.4.4)

Raise questions and seek out answers in the community (Pursue information and master new skills)

Day Planning (math: time management, telling time)

Dance Party: music and large motor skills, releasing tension in a positive way

Ongoing project: March Calendar (math, number sense, sequencing)Ongoing project: Amusement Park (divergent thinking, cross-curricular, problem solving)


Responsibility for self and actions (agreement tree)

Develop self-control and patience (squeeze and pass game, meetings, conversations, etc.)


Learn positive ways to release tension (finding recourses to meet needs in a positive way)


Language: say what you mean, mean what you say (finding words to express feelings/needs)

Co-operation: hearing when others are speaking (finding tools to help all students be heard)

Free play: open ended play (offering tools to aid non scripted/branded play)

Our next Parent Meeting is scheduled for March 27th.  Michelle will be presenting on a recent workshop she attended and Melody will facilitate our forum.  See you!

Garden Maintenance:

Friendly reminders from the TKG Office:

  • Please connect with Jesse to confirm your availability for Saturday.  Last call to all your friends and families for books!
  • Book Sorting is happening on Wednesday (morning) and Friday (time tbd).  Please let Jesse or Trish know if you are available.
  • 25% Fundraiser contribution can be paid in advance of end of school year
  • Don’t forget to sign-in and check out Parent Binder each morning at drop off!
  • We also recycle old cell phones for money.  Please save your old phones for us!

Thank you Families!  Admin Questions, please email t.valdez(at)knowinggarden(dot)org.


March Board Meeting will be rescheduled.  Please contact Trish or Jesse with any questions.

We love our Parent Volunteers!

Thank you for sharing your time with us.  Our parent volunteers this week:

MONDAY – JM (park day – Wilson Park)





Phrases to support this week’s plan:

  • What are maps?
  • How do you keep track of time?
  • Let’s dance!
  • Do you have any questions about the Agreement tree?
  • Who led the meeting today?
  • I am always willing to hear your words, even if we disagree.

Resource Of The Week:

“Why your child’s best playmate may be you! Incorporate play into parenting. While some parents may be uncomfortable with roughhousing, it may have great benefits. The authors of the book The Art of Roughhousing Lawrence Cohen and Anthony DeBenedet share their opinion that horsing around may have all kinds of physical and developmental benefits.”



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