On this page you’ll find a comprehensive static side menu of the many activities, articles, and projects available here. Most of these activities are related to the natural history of the Northeastern Woodlands and/or school gardening, especially as it was developed at one of the schools where I taught, a small urban Catholic school in Nashua, NH, Infant Jesus School.
Many of the activities celebrate specific non-human creatures who make their homes (for at least part of the year) in the temperate forestlands of Eastern North America. These include such marvelous beings as dragonflies, beavers, white-tailed deer, squirrels, pumpkin-seed sunfish, Baltimore orioles, and owls – and many others. Some activities highlight these creatures’ diverse adaptations to seasonal change. Most of the projects were designed as part of the environmental education curricula of elementary schools, or as complements to programs offered at Nature Centers. (As mentioned elsewhere on this website, I worked in such settings for nearly thirty years.) Many of the resources are suitable not only for environmental and primary school educators, but for teachers of all kinds – including those conducting After School programs, leading Scout troops, homeschooling their families, and for families in general.
Regarding the gardening resources, many were produced for the permaculture gardens at Infant Jesus School, an urban Catholic School (with a proud French-Canadian heritage) located close to downtown Nashua. As a school gardening endeavor, there was a focus on native plantings, wildlife habitat, and multi-use, often edible plantings. Conceptually, we taught gardening as an intentional partnership between species – human and Otherwise. We were trying to grow both human understanding and skills – in addition to useful & beautiful traditional foods, fibers, herbs, and ornamentals. We were trying to enliven our neighborhood and make it more aesthetically pleasing and uplifting. We were also trying to sustain visiting or resident animals – from pollinators to goldfinch. At heart, we were trying to assist in the development of happy, knowledgeable, and compassionate people within a healthy microhabitat supporting lots of life. We hoped that through gardening and accompanying outdoor and classroom activities, our students would eventually become ecologically-informed and responsible citizens within their local and planetary community. This website records and shares a few of the projects that helped serve this purpose during the nine years that the gardens were under active care. In 2019, the project concluded when the entire school closed after 110 years of operation. The gardens themselves are now being transformed into a site that supports Corpus Christi Food Pantry, St. John XXXIII Parish, and Family Promise Transitional Housing of S. New Hampshire.
For convenience and perspective, the static side menu on this page also provides access to a few special projects. These include the website’s materials on Native American Culture in the Northeastern Woodlands, with an emphasis on lifeways along the Lower Merrimack River Valley at the outset of the Contact Period (CE 1500 – 1600). Additionally, you’ll find other sections related to workshops presented in 2019 and 2020. One is a a Patterns and Steam Workshop for art teachers which includes extensive samples of student work inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s marvelous oeuvre. Projects from this workshop can definitely bolster STEM content in an elementary visual arts curriculum. There are also collections related to Laudato Si’ and its relevance to school gardening and environmental learning. There are materials about organic farming and gardening for both adults and children. There is also a set of supporting resources from the 2019 Natural Start Conference workshop I taught, including the draft of the activities collection Circling the Sun, Racing the Wind which is scheduled for publication by Green Writers Press in Fall 2023.
At this time, as I add new materials to the site, I’m also doing quite a bit of revising and restructuring. I welcome your recommendations and comments!