This year, was the year of the butterfly. Chrysalis’ were everywhere causing near pandemonium at recess. The garden would be flooded with children begging to hunt for caterpillars and cocoons. Though I want all children to explore and dig in, there is some management that comes with hordes of children handling insects and wielding trowels.
The solution? The Garden Pass. Every recess 6 passes hang on the fence where children can obtain them on a first come, first serve basis. The passes give them a sense of empowerment in the garden, clarity for the yard-duty about who is being supervised, and something to look forward to at recess for all diggers-of-worms and chrysalis fanatics.
To maximize the amount of children getting in the garden there is a second system that involves the 3rd grade teachers. Six other garden passes rest in the hands of a third grade teacher. Each month the passes are handed off to another class of 3rd graders. At lunch time 6 children are chosen to come eat lunch with the GEM (Garden Education Manager) and then work on a project during lunch recess. In some classes it is used as a reward system for good behavior, though in all classes every child has a chance to come out and explore.
The Garden Pass has been an excellent solution to the mass chaos. The only downside is often during the enthusiasm expressed in the garden, passes end up leaving the child’s neck and finding their way into some far-flung part of the garden. This means I much go on my own after-hours adventures, searching for Garden Passes in the nether lands of perennials or the apple tree forest. However, I don’t mind joining in the fun, doing a bit of my own exploring!