In 2006, a highly supportive group of parents at Main Street School created the foundation for a school-wide Life Lab (LL) Program. These outstanding parent volunteers visualized developing their garden program similar to the highly successful Life Lab Program at UCSC. If you are not familiar with UCSC’s program, I recommend that you visit http://www.lifelab.org/category/programs/ and explore this superb program.
Main Street’s LL Program is truly exceptional. Our children partake monthly in an enrichment learning activity that blends science, nutrition, math, art and music throughout the year. Each month students at every grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade, enjoy getting their hands dirty and learning about all aspects of growing healthy foods.
One of the many highlights of the LL Program is the garden party that takes place the last Friday of each month. Liz Bell (Grandma Liz) helps organize these energetic garden parties where fun crafts and face painting also take place. These monthly parties truly embrace the outstanding parent volunteerism at Main Street. They serve as an opportunity for parents, students and extended family members to work collectively in the preparation of the garden for the next growing cycle.
You will be amazed at the major projects that community volunteers accomplish during this event. In addition, it is so rewarding to see the culmination of the school-wide beautification projects on a regular basis. The LL Program serves as a major catalyst in having volunteers share their resources in one of Main Street School’s thriving programs. The highlight of the LL Program’s garden party is when Grandma Liz feeds our student’s bellies.
Another major development in the LL Program is in the area of healthy eating habits for our children. There is a significant connection with the hands on approach of science throughout the grade level lesson for this program. The kids at Main Street understand how food goes from seed to table (or farm to fork) because they have literally planted the seeds. They have worked together to produce food that will nourish their bodies and give them energy. When you ask the kids what they like most about Life Lab, they say, “eating the veggies we grew!”
Each class has a salad party and it’s really incredible to see kids eating things they’ve never eaten before 1) because they grew it; 2) because it tastes great; 3) because it’s good for them and; 4) because everyone’s doing it! Kids will say, “I’ve never tried a tomato” – they try it and love it! The upper grades have an extra special activity connected with the LL Program. The upper grade students cook vegetables that have been grown from seed. In addition to learning about nutritious meals, our students have yummy food like bok choy quesadillas, salsa from the garden, grilled zucchini and toasted pumpkin seeds. These are all examples of cooking activities done during LL lessons. Fundraising efforts with the sale of their fruits and vegetables is just another terrific attribute of this program.
It is without question that the Life Lab Program at Main Street is truly an exciting comprehensive learning opportunity for all of our children. All students at Main Street (100%) participate in the Life Lab Program. This program has galvanized a community focus to create special opportunities for both adults and children. The creativity of these volunteers (40+) has resulted in blending enriched academia as well as embracing collaborative learning. Giving our children the opportunity to learn about the importance of healthy eating habits is an essential knowledge for their future. I encourage you to contact Ms. Annette Bitter, Principal at Main Street or Kristy McCain, Life Lab Coordinator, who can also be contacted through Main Street School and schedule a visit.