This spring finds Daniel Warren’s Peace Garden blooming with curriculum enrichment, as well as daffodils, weeping cherry tree, apple, and oak trees.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
This spring finds Daniel Warren’s Peace Garden blooming with curriculum enrichment, as well as daffodils, weeping cherry tree, apple, and oak trees. The garden takes children’s natural desire of playing in the dirt to a whole other level. In April, they “woke up” the garden with shovels and organic compost. On Earth Day, they planted pansies, and this month, they are planting marigold seeds they collected and saved from last summer.
“The way the garden touches children in so many ways is priceless,” said first-grade teacher Jane Schumer. “They get their hands in the soil and feel one with the earth. It’s not just for our Daniel Warren kids, it’s for the whole community to enjoy.”
First established as a Peace Garden in 2010 by then-Principal Joan Babcock, kindergarten teacher Connie Levin, and Schumer, the garden was inspired by “Wangari’s Trees of Peace,” the true story of Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Before long, the garden flourished with the installation of raised beds, a peace mandala, a trellis, a pergola, greenery, and flora.
Having evolved into a community affair, it is sustained by “garden guru” Schumer, as Principal Jane Scheinman calls her, with the help of Daniel PTSA Vice President Gloria Golle, PTSA Garden Volunteer Coordinators Wendy Heckert and Brianna Billone Banahan, Rye Neck grounds crew, Daniel Warren custodians, garden club secretary Laurie DeFalco, teachers, and parents.
In the summer, local families adopt the garden a week at a time to ensure the flowers and vegetables are cared for.
During lunch and recess, students in grades K-2 may spend time in the garden twice a week. They can weed, water, draw, read, do yoga, and engage in numerous activities al fresco.
In addition, this outdoor classroom is integral to the science, language arts, and arts curriculums. While the kindergartners’ sunflower seed plantings correspond with their farm unit, the first graders’ pollination plants support their insect studies. In a unit on the history of the earth, the students learn the importance of sustaining the garden and preserving the planet.
“The garden gives children the opportunity to learn to be the stewards of the earth and our natural world,” noted Schumer. “It also gives them a sanctuary where they can wind down, practice mindfulness, reflect, and be in a happy place. This is really a treasure.”