One of the aspects of my new small school I just adore is the amazing amount of freedom with scheduling and space – it allows for real teachable moments that are engaging and organic.

Last week, knowing we were going to be starting our Butterfly Life Cycle Unit soon, I wanted to introduce my class to the school garden – specifically the milkweed.  I didn’t have to schedule or arrange a time with others – out on the playground – I saw the garden was free and gathered up my friends in the outside classroom.  My old school had a garden too… with a massive calendar for teachers to sign up for time slots.  It worked, but required an enormous level of organization and planning – two things I’m not known for.

Sitting in the garden, with the wind blowing in our hair, I lined them up on the stone path that zig zagged throughout the flower boxes. Walking by the milkweed, I pointed out the places where a hungry caterpillar had most likely nibbled away at the plant.  Then, like a real science teacher (gasp!), I tore a leaf off, bent it in half, and exposed the milky juice inside.  This was a revelation to my sprouts.

Continuing on our journey we passed the ‘Pizza Garden’ where herbs and spices for school lunch pizzas are grown.  I ripped off a little thyme, rubbed it between my fingers, and let each child sniff the sweet pizza smell.  This was real, meaningful learning at it’s best.

I love my new small school and the freedom it gives me to be spontaneous and find teachable moments everywhere.