Columbia students grow herbs in class, home

Susan Sanford, at center, inspects herbs for planting with her students Rylie Edwards, from left, Alex Kash and Ramana Krishnan at Columbia Elementary School (CONTRIBUTED)
Susan Sanford, at center, inspects herbs for planting with her students Rylie Edwards, from left, Alex Kash and Ramana Krishnan at Columbia Elementary School (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Basil, cilantro and spearmint freshened the air and lifted the students’ minds in Susan Sanford’s classroom at Columbia Elementary School.

Sanford’s students with special needs learned about herbs, planting the sprouts and how to grow a garden. As source material, they used “News-2-You,” an interactive, picture-based newspaper that covers pertinent activities and current events from around the world.

“‘News-2-You’ uses instructional targets to bridge between standards and the curriculum content for students with special needs,” Sanford said. “The newspaper’s topic that week was ‘Herb Gardens.'”

For more hands-on opportunities, Sanford asked local nurseries to donate plants so that her students could learn ways to handle and care for the bedding plants. Local contributions came from Reseda Nursery, The Catbird Seat and The Enchanted Forrest, she said.

Students learned how to “compare and contrast the differences between various herbs through taste, smell and touch,” Sanford said. The students worked with basil, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, cilantro, and spearmint.

The “News-2-You” article explained that herbs are edible and can be used in cooking. “The students especially enjoyed preparing the (planting) pots, putting in the soil for each herb and getting their hands dirty,” Sanford said.

At the end of the unit, each student was allowed to take plants home to begin growing their own garden. “One parent commented that her daughter is learning to cook at home,” Sanford said. “The fresh herbs will be a great contribution to recipes she and her dad make together.”

For more information about the student newspaper, visit n2y.com.

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