The Native Prairie Teaching Garden 
at Mattawan Later Elementary School

For all children to explore,
For all teachers to use

An Outdoor Classroom

Picture

The plants in our prairie garden are perennial and include native grasses, sedges and wildflowers indigenous to southwest Michigan.

Teachers use the garden to teach concepts in science such as life cycles and living organisms; in math--measurement; in social studies--natural resources of Michigan; in language arts --a variety of writing projects including journaling, poetry and other descriptive writing.

Yes, the garden is a pretty place!  While it adds beauty to our school environment, the garden is most importantly a teaching tool...one that can help foster a sense of environmental appreciation and stewardship in students of Mattawan Schools.

Out in Our Courtyard

Picture

Making the courtyard more useable for teachers and students has been discussed for some time.  The courtyard--initially grass with two pine trees--is surrounded on three sides by classrooms.  In 2008-2009, teachers planted several Michigan native plant species in the middle of the courtyard.

in the fall of 2009, a parent committee began fundraising and exploring how to develop a courtyard garden.  Thanks to a grant award and individual donations, the garden took shape.  Preliminary designs came from Hidden Savanna, a local native plant nursery. Staff from the Kalamazoo Nature Center finalized the plant layout and helped with plant selection.

On June 5, 2010, students, parents, teachers and staff gathered to plant the garden! More than 500 plugs of approximately 38 native prairie sedges, grasses and plants were planted in a area approximately 20' by 40'.  A second, smaller garden was planted in the courtyard in the fall of 2010.

In the spring of 2011, students at Mattawan Later Elementary celebrated Earth Day with a one-day fundraiser called "Change for the Earth."  Students donated small change to our Native Plants Teaching Garden.  More than $600 was raised for the next exciting phase of our garden.