One of the very interesting stops on our September 24th “Moving Planet” tour was the Living Classroom at Almond Elementary School. The founder of this unique learning environment, Vicki Moore, described the hands-on, garden-based lessons offered to Los Altos School District children. These popular activities support curriculum instruction in science, math and even history and give elementary and junior high students in our community an opportunity to connect with nature.
The program is aimed at students in grades K-7. Forty-five lessons are given by trained volunteer docents in topics such as biodiversity, habitats, Native American uses of plants, experimenting with plants using the scientific method, plant life cycles, and how plants shaped world history. Most lessons use the school gardens (including native habitat and edible gardens), while all lessons use living things to teach to key state standards.
All 9 schools in the Los Altos School District now have Living Classroom gardens and over 500 lessons are already scheduled for the current school year. The program relies entirely on private donations, the support of local nurseries and businesses and the efforts of volunteer docents. Volunteers are also needed to help maintain the gardens and monetary donations are always appreciated.