The PTO Garden is an amazing hands-on learning space! During the summer, volunteers work hard to create a thriving (and beautiful) garden that becomes a learning space our students in the Fall and Spring.
Our PTO VP of Community & Wellness works with the teachers to let them know the growing cycle for each plant. This allows the teacher to use the space for hands-on learning opportunities. The PTO puts together different projects (highlighted below) to give different opportunities for students to explore.
SUNFLOWER HARVEST PROJECT
Giant Sunflowers are grown in our Community Garden. In the Fall, the sunflower heads are cut down and shared with classrooms (2022 we were able to share 3 sunflower heads per grade level). Teachers take the heads and turn them into Math and Science projects. The heads are weighed, measured, and harvested. Eventually the seeds are sent home in packets where students can plant at home.
In the Spring, teachers sign up their class to help with planting the garden for the next season. In May, 2022 we saw 290 students (14 classrooms) rotated through for plant day! Students got to help plant a variety of flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about plant life cycles and see their work bloom, and harvest during the months of August and September.
You will find Art elements in the Community Garden. Students have helped decorate the garden by painting rocks and creating a colorful perimeter around the beds and sidewalks.
Kindergarten - 2nd grades create Bug art during Art classes. They use elements from the garden & Bug project to get inspiration and enhance the lesson.
The STEM lab contributes to the PTO Community garden. Every year, 5th graders design and print 3-D objects to decorate garden beds.
In 2022, we had a problem with squirrels eating the sunflower heads. We tried mesh bags, but that didn't work. STEM took the bad sunflower heads and mesh bags and turned it into a project for 4th graders to solve. We are hoping they come up with an idea we can use next year.
BE A BEE
In the Fall of 2022, the PTO sponsored an educational project where kindergarten - 2nd grade were out in the Garden to be "Bees" and pollinate. Students learned about pollination by acting out the work of honeybees (reiterate what they learned in class). They created bee costumes to wear as they “fly” out to find “pollen” (glitter coated foam balls) and “nectar” (droppers collecting water) to bring back to their “hive" (grouping of cups). Students got to see that glitter was ALL over, showing how Bees spread the pollen, helping the growth process for our food and flowers.
This project was expanded on in ART class where students created art on bugs which were displayed during Specials Night in November
In the 2022/23 SY, the PTO donated four (4) Bug Hunt Boxes to FHE STEM Lab. The Bug Hunt Project asks 3rd through 5th graders to explore in the PTO Community Garden and discover what may be living among the plants.
We've teamed up with Fox Hollow's STEM teacher, Mrs. Sevy. Students can check out Bug Hunt boxes and iPad and use for observation in the garden (iPads have a bug identifier app, and links to the PTO's Bug website). Students will choose to present their findings through STEM lab options like a Podcast, Green Screen, WeVideo, Infographic, and more. Project results will be highlighted in the PTO newsletter, on the PTO website, PTO Facebook page and at the Specials Night in November.
The PTO works to create opportunities for teachers and students to take advantage of this outdoor learning space. Students are able to visit the garden during recess and brain breaks to explore or just take a break.
One of the biggest questions our PTO VP of Community and Wellness gets every year: how tall are the sunflowers? One parent created a measuring tool that allows classes to answer this question. Students found that the tallest sunflower is 13 feet high.
We are always looking for ways to expand the PTO Community Garden to bring in educational elements that benefit the students. In 2021, a bulb garden was added. Students helped plant over 200 bulbs. They got to learn the science behind how bulbs grow, and take pride in being a part of the garden and see their work every Spring.
The garden has also benefited from donations from generous FHE families. In 2022, one family donated a decorative wind spinner, weather station and gardening tools.
If you would like to get involved with the garden,
email our PTO VP of Community & Wellness at