Tuesday, September 29 from 6-7:30pm is Crestwood's annual Ice Cream Social! This year the event will be held outdoors to facilitate easier cleanup and so families can enjoy the fresh air while we still have mild weather. Be sure to stop by the Outdoor Ed table to play a fun sensory game and take a self-guided tour of our woods and back garden.
Last spring, all second graders started cucumbers in mini-greenhouses made out of milk jugs and planted the young seedlings all around the front gardens at the end of the school year. Those plants did very well, and produced prolifically well before school started this fall! Now those kids are in third grade. What do a bunch of third graders learning about measurements, volume and capacity do with a bumper crop of cucumbers the first week of school? Make pickles of course!
by Erika Hanson
We made pickles. We made them in the gym. We also got groups. Next, we aded [sic] garlic, vinegar, dill, peppercorn, ad salt. Finally, we shook the jar multipule [sic] times and let the cucumbers sit. They tasted great!
This is all you need to make your own.
Don’t limit yourself to pickled cucumbers; use this recipe with just about any vegetable. We leave the dill out and use it for okra, bell peppers, and more. Adjust the spices and be creative – there are so many possibilities!
Over the last couple of weeks, Crestwood second graders have harvested tomatoes and basil from the circle garden in front of the school and made pizzas! What follows is a brief description of the activity, a few pictures (volunteers were quite busy helping and didn't have much opportunity for taking photos) and a recipe to make your own pizza with fresh ingredients.
The Pizza Makers!
By Ms. Allen's 2nd Grade Class
On September 4, Ms. Allen's class made delicious pizzas. We picked tomatoes and basil in the school garden. We each pressed biscuit dough onto a baking sheet. Then we cut up the tomatoes to make the sauce. We put it on the dough. Some people put homemade pesto on their pizza too. We sprinkled cheese on our pizza. Some people added basil leaves. Then we baked it and ate it! The other second grade classes made pizza too. We had a great time making it.
It's been a hot, sticky start to the school year. Soon, though, the weather will cool off and it will be hard to stay inside! The Crestwood Fall Welcome Walk is distributed to teachers and staff at the beginning of every school year, and is designed as a self-guided tour of the school grounds. Teachers are encouraged to take their classes on the Welcome Walk and explore the many outdoor learning spaces at Crestwood. While some parts of the Welcome Walk are the same from year to year, details often change as our gardens, woods and orchard grow and develop. The text below is adapted for a "virtual tour" including photos and descriptions of the outdoor spaces. Won't you join us?
Click here to see the Welcome Walk from Fall 2014
CRESTWOOD WELCOME WALK FALL 2015
There are many outdoor learning places to visit on the Crestwood school grounds, including several garden sites, wooded trails, and the apple orchard. Other nearby nature areas include Owen Park, a city conservation park with a restored prairie and maple and oak forests located on Old Sauk Road, and Kettle Pond, another city conservation area located on Old Middleton Road.
Below is some information on each outdoor learning space on our grounds and some things to investigate as you visit these places with your students. It may be helpful for them to have paper, pencil, and rulers to record their observations. The questions in bold are only suggestions for observation. You and your students will certainly come up with your own unique and interesting questions and observations!
Before you start, here is some background information on the Aldo Leopold benches, the mosaic signs, and the kiosks, all located on the school grounds in various outdoor spaces.
The Aldo Leopold Benches
There are many small simple benches throughout the Crestwood school grounds. This bench design was created by Aldo Leopold, author of “A Sand County Almanac”, a book that records the passage of seasons that Leopold observed in rural southern Wisconsin. “Considered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system, Aldo Leopold was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast” (from www.aldoleopold.org). Leopold lived right here in Madison and was a professor at the University of Wisconsin!
The Leopold Benches at Crestwood were built by Travis Wood (former Crestwood student) as Eagle Scout project, Al Wessel (former SEA), and Don Worel (former 4,5teacher).
In 2010, 7 more of these benches were built and dedicated to staff who were retiring as well as volunteers who have done OE with Crestwood students for many years.
The Mosaic Signs
Each year, students at Crestwood get a chance to collaborate on mosaic signs to mark the garden and forest plots around the school. Kindergartens and 1st graders make clay tiles, 2nd and 3rd graders glaze them in a variety of colors, and 4th and 5th graders design and assemble the final mosaics. The initial round of mosaics was completed in the spring of 2012 and marked five of the school's gardens. The second round, finished in the spring of 2013, were designed to designate the various plots in the forest behind the school. Every class has been assigned a different section of the woods to take care of during their years at Crestwood. The 2015 mosaics mark the remaining plots in the forest and the new Apple Orchard that has been planted near the parking lot. Look for different mosaic signs in the photographs throughout the virtual Welcome Walk!
There are 10 kiosks on posts around the Crestwood grounds. They were purchased using funds from the Joyce Soukup Memorial fund and installed in May 2014 by volunteers from Blackhawk Church during Love Madison workday. The posts are permanent, but the content on display can be changed. Currently, the kiosks contain original artwork by Crestwood students.
Crestwood Woods and Trails
The Woods and trail system is located south of the building. This area has been part of Crestwood’s history since 1901 (when called Highlands/Mendota Beach School). Early PTO records mention ski jumping. In the 1980s, the main trail (between the school building and South Highlands Rd) and theater ring was installed by Sue Bohlman’s (retired 3rd grade teacher) son as his Eagle Scout project. Parent volunteers created seasonal teaching trail signs and led small groups through the woods and led restoration efforts including spring ephemeral planting and garlic mustard removal. Due to tree safety concerns, the woods area was not often used by students for several years in the mid-2000s.
Most recently in 2009 there was a revival of restoration efforts by the Outdoor Education Committee comprised of both Crestwood staff and volunteers. Parent and Arborist Joe House has helped with safety concerns by spearheading tree and shrub removal and community woods work days. From 2009 to present, new trails have been created including an “upper loop” in 2009 off the main trail, a “lower loop” in 2010 located behind the classroom circle and a new trail connecting the lower loop with the main trail near the Highlands Road in 2011. In spring 2014, smaller trails were added through the plots for more student access; though currently some of those trails are somewhat overgrown, they are accessible in the spring.
Each grade level of students that enters Crestwood as kindergartners is assigned a certain plot in the woods. Students help to plant native trees and shrubs and spring ephemerals in their plot, remove invasive species, and spend time exploring, studying and visiting their special area during the different seasons each year. Each grade level plot is named after a woodland bird. See the Crestwood Woods Information Sheet for more detailed information on each plot. Some of the many classroom activities in the woods include native tree and shrub planting and data collection; “my spot” observation area through the seasons; removal of non-natives—garlic mustard, buckthorn; planting spring ephemerals, native trees and shrubs; scavenger hunts, art projects, walks, photo ops, and phenology (study of seasonal changes).
View the slideshow below to see each of the mosaic signs associated with the woods plots and grade levels assigned to them!
If you walk down through the woods, past the classroom circle, and out into the soccer field, you’ll see some new and exciting developments since last year. Thanks to a grant from Community Groundworks, volunteers planned and installed an outdoor Living Stage against the backstop fence. The stage has hosted several performances already, including many renditions of Mr. Szudy’s garlic mustard play, and live poetry readings during Poetry Night in May 2015.
Along the edge of the soccer field, you’ll see some young swamp oak trees surrounded by black plastic and many young prairie plants. This area is an oak savannah restoration project still under development.
Let's walk around the front of the school! The Prairie sampler garden is located in the front of the school in front of the dumpster fences. (It is sometimes fondly referred to as the “dumpster garden.”) This garden offers students an opportunity to see various prairie plants up close. Seeing these plants before or after a trip to Owen Park may help with learning plant names and identification. Project ideas include: identifying and creating labels for plants, taking photos or drawing in different seasons, phenology.
The Circle Garden located in the front lawn changes seasonally.
Planting of Red Emperor tulips occurs every other year with 2nd grade students (including this school year) in the fall. This then offers an opportunity to participate in the Journey North migration program the following Spring. Students track the emergence of spring bulbs from the southern United States to the north and add their own data on Crestwood’s tulip bulbs.
Once the tulips have bloomed (and bulbs have been removed) the garden is planted with summer blooming flowers/crops. This year the circle garden is a forest of tomatoes! Second graders will have a pizza party with tomato this fall. We also planted basil, orange sweet peppers and marigolds there. The plants for the circle garden this year were generously donated by Mini of Madison (contact: Rebecca Simpson).
The Butterfly Garden is a large rectangular space in the front yard with a stepping stone walkway through it. The garden contains many plants butterflies need throughout their life cycle – from larva to adult. Many plants are labeled. Monarchs raised in classrooms have been released here. This garden was created by parent volunteer and master gardener student Kim Bunke with the help of Karen Lenoch’s 2/3 class a few years ago
Vegetable Gardens in the front of the building have been in existence and continuous use since the early 1990’s when Harlan Seibricht was principal. This garden space was started by parent volunteers and has grown over the years with the help of students, staff, volunteers, and the support of the CAPT. The gardens start near the picnic tables to the east of the front door and stretch the length and around the side of the building all the way to the red wall (elevator).
These gardens are planted with students in the spring with crops to harvest in the fall and over the years have included potatoes, beans for drying, gourds, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions and garlic, rutabagas, corn, pumpkins and other late squashes. In Fall 2014, the 4th and 5th grade classes made “stone soup” for Back to School Night and 3rd grade classes made pesto with basil and garlic grown in the school gardens. This fall 3rd grade classes made pickles with dozens of cucumbers harvested from the front of the school.
Garden opportunities historically were offered through a lunch recess garden club, run by parent volunteers. More recently, entire classrooms have been involved in planting and harvesting various parts of the gardens. In spring 2015, second graders started cucumber seeds in mini-greenhouses made out of milk jugs and planted them all around the front garden plots so they can harvest them for pickles in the fall as third graders. Also, fourth graders planted potatos, beets, onions, rutabagas, turnips and carrots to mimic the gardens European settlers would have planted in the 1800s; these will be harvested for Stone Soup.
The Sunflower Wall, along the east driveway, was painted by then art teacher Roger Johnson. This last spring, many sunflower seeds were planted along the wall, but alas, most of the seeds turned into bird snacks! We do have some beans growing there now. Above the sunflower wall is another smaller plot for vegetables. Here, in spring 2015, 2nd graders planted cucumbers, and summer volunteers added surplus tomato plants and beans. Despite a slow start, many of these plants are thriving!
The Apple Orchard site is east of east driveway. This area will eventually have 20+ trees of 5 apple varieties planted along low trellises. Future plans include possibly adding blueberry, currant, and/or strawberry plants. The initial funding for this project was received through a grant from Lowe’s (Spring 2012). In spring of 2015, two aronia bushes were planted outside the orchard fence, along with some new apple trees to replace the ones that didn’t survive the winter.
The Kinder/1st grade garden is located behind the west parking lot. This garden space was expanded over two years with the help of Blackhawk Church members on their annual “Love Madison” community service Sunday. The back garden gives easy access to K/1 classes to plant spring crops (lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes) for salad snacks in May and June. Pumpkins, corn, and beans are typically planted by kindergartners in the late spring for a fall harvest when students return to Crestwood as first graders. This is known as a “Three Sisters Garden,” and in 2015, ours is thriving! We also have a bumper crop of curly kale, thanks to plants from the spring salad garden that survived the initial harvest.
The Shed behind the Kinder/1st garden was built in 2010. It was designed by Linda Gourley (retired art teacher), built by Don Worel (retired 4/5 teacher), and funded by a grant from the WI Retired Educators Association.
Crestwood's OE committee is dedicated to outdoor learning for all students.