Earlier this week we joined Gardner Dan, a.k.a. Mr. Dan, on our playground to honor Earth Day by planting a Red Oak tree. The children were eager to get down and dirty, especially after reading Earth Day, Every Day by Lisa Bullard.
Our huge collaborative effort (preschool, pre-k and kindergarten) began at the compost bin. First we had to separate the ready compost (fresh soil) from the other compost. That meant removing all of the bark, twigs, corn cobs, cauliflower, roots and even some stickers from the onion skins. The children really enjoyed this step of the process and cheered with excitement for each and every found worm, centipede, and spider. After we separated the compost, the children carried it in various-sized buckets over to the area where we decided to plant our Red Oak tree.
Next we stood back as Mr. Dan dug a huge hole for the tree itself. We noticed that he had dug up a lot of small rocks so we took a large milk crate and sifted the soil…again to separate the good soil from the small rocks. This was definitely a task that required team work and strong muscles. After sifting, we mixed our compost with the ground soil to make an extra healthy bed for the tree to grow big and strong.
Mr. Dan once again dug the right sized hole for our root ball but before we could put the tree in its new home, we learned that the tree needed some extra energy (fertilizer) to help the tree grow strong. He added a scoop of energy to two buckets, covered it with a little compost and then the kids filled the 5 gallon buckets with water. Now talk about team work, each child used their water bottle to fill the buckets…from the sink to the buckets and on it went for about 20 minutes.
Once the buckets were filled to the line, two kindergarteners poured one of the buckets into the hole. Mr. Dan removed the tree from the black container it arrived in from the nursery, separated the roots a little with his hands and placed the tree in its new home. It was now time for the second bucket to be poured in which created a “moat” around our Red Oak. The children grabbed their shovels and little by little filled in the rest of the space with the saved soil.
And then finally, after all of our hard work, we were able to sit back and admire our new tree, the mighty Red Oak!
Happy Earth Day,