Creating Kid-Smart Spaces with Magalie René-Hayes

Last month, we were honored to have Magalie featured on the Raising smART Kids 2.0 Podcast, with Yong Pratt, owner of Elko Arts Academy. Elko Arts is a performing arts school dedicated to using dance, karate, music and other art-based programs to supplement traditional education and raise "smarter and more confident kids who become leaders for the next generation."

Join us in listening in as Magalie and Yong discuss:

  • how Kid-Smart Spaces came to be
  • why school design is so important
  • the role of design in creating joy in our classrooms
  • using various elements, like plants and colors, to create kid-smart spaces
  • entering study spaces with a mindful routine
  • tips for moms and dads on creating homework spaces
  • Magalie's experiences in individual schools
  • the Kid-Smart Spaces book! 
  • why including art in school is a must

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids

A number of studies have shown that plants can benefit children's health, improve mood, performance and productivity - and most importantly increase academic achievement.

Communing with nature pushes the "relax" button, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and produces positive feelings. We consistently suggest incorporating gardening and plants to the parents and educators we work with, and as promised, we have some suggestions for how to do just that.

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Prepare them with gardening books.

Even before you get dirty, introduce your little one to gardening through books. This is a great way to incorporate reading and learning while simultaneously getting them excited about gardening.

 

Let them contribute to the garden in meaningful ways.

Participation gives kids a sense of empowerment and makes them feel valued. The more ownership they feel they have, the more important the practice of gardening becomes and the more naturally a sense of responsibility can be instilled. Not sure what constitutes "meaningful ways?" Try these suggestions:

Let them choose the brand or color of gardening tools.

Let them decide between your list of top items to plant.

Let them choose their gardening outfit!

Have them name the plants. (Be prepared for some simple or outrageous names!)

Give them their own garden beds.

 

Make gardening activities into learning games!

Gardening isn't just a great way to incorporate nature and a sense of responsibility into your everyday activities. It's also a great way to bring a little fun to the aspects of learning that kids can sometimes find boring (Math, we're talking to you!). Try a few of our favorite ways to make gardening into a game of knowledge. 

Count the seeds.

Use a ruler to measure the space between plants. 

Play a fun game of "Name That Plant!"

Write stories about your plants' journeys.

Create gardening art projects!

Gardening doesn't have to be all about digging, connecting with nature and learning academic skills. It can also be a great opportunity to hone those art skills. Get your creative juices flowing with these ideas, or try a few of your own!

Paint rocks with the names of plants or a drawing to use as markers for each plant.

Draw labels on pots.

Make pots out of milk cartons or other creative vessels.

Paint garden furniture.

 

Establish a routine.

It can be a challenge to get kids to sit still and complete their homework and study. Create a daily routine with gardening. Have them water the plants before they sit down to study. The act becomes a subtle, physical cue to transition to study time.

Gardening is good for all sorts of reasons, and studies show that's not just in our imaginations. If you're looking for a way to incorporate learning, enhance your child's life and increase their connection to nature (a proven positive relationship), gardening is the way to go!

7 Benefits to Plants in the Classroom

As we make the move to green our inner environments and habits, adding houseplants to our home and workspaces is an ever-popular change. Though teachers and school administration seem to be catching on a little less quickly, adding potted plants to our learning spaces can have an incredible, positive effect on students.

In both children and adults, the presence of plants tends to improve health, mood, performance and activity across the board. Many studies show the positive effects of bringing nature indoors, including some of these amazing results:

- Potted plants in the classroom can reduce sick-leave among primary-aged students

- Plants in the classroom improve grades and behavior among middle school students

- Plants in classrooms improve performance and lower feelings of discomfort in university students

- Both students and staff report more positive feelings and satisfaction around learning with plants in classrooms

- Spending time in parks improves concentration in children with ADD

- Plants in workspaces can improve memory retention by up to 20%

- Plants in a classroom setting can improve spelling, science and math scores by up to 14%

With effects like these, it’s pretty clear where we should go from here: more plants in the classroom!

We’ve got a few favorite plants for just this purpose and great ideas (we think!) for ways to incorporate nature into your learning space. Check back next month for tips on bringing nature inside your four classroom walls!