During the first weeks of school, kindergarten students commented that playground equipment was too hot to play on. In their classes, they discussed why the playground was so hot and realized that it had little shade. The students explored various ways to address this problem, and ultimately decided to plant trees on the playground. In the resulting service-learning project, the students worked with 10 community organizations and businesses, including the Union School Parents Group, Montpelier Tree Commission, and Elmore Roots Nursery.
The project fit was incorporated into their science unit about Fall/harvest/trees. In class, the kindergarteners learned more about trees from their teachers and books that were read to them. The students discovered that trees not only provide shade from the sun but that they also provide oxygen for people and animals to breathe. They then worked with school officials and a local nursery to determine what types of trees would thrive, how many trees were needed, and where best to plant them.
With the help of their teachers and community partners, the students obtained three red maple trees and planted them on the playground. The students especially loved this hands-on part of the project—digging holes and spreading mulch. Wanting to share their enthusiasm with the whole school, the students made a presentation about their project at a school-wide assembly. The impact of the project will grow along with the trees that now help shade the playground and provide a cool space for students to play.