By the time construction wrapped up at Avondale Elementary this past November, it was too late to start growing any crops. All winter, students and teachers were anxiously awaiting spring when they could finally plant and watch their new Farm Lab grow. David and I, Avondale’s GSF leads, needed to come up with a way to brighten the space ahead of schedule.

Avondale’s Farm Lab has a series of “Theme Mounds,” which are spaces where students can explore common medicinal, culinary, and pollinator-attracting plants, as well as plants that engage the five senses. These mounds provided a great opportunity to bring two school community assets together – our creative and hardworking students and talented Bethanne Hill, a local artist and Avondale parent – to create signs for each mound highlighting a few special plants.

We selected nine 4th graders and met once a week after school to learn about tissue paper collage, warm and cool colors, and other design elements. Bethanne provided a basic outline for each sign, including the title and feature plant insets, and students were responsible for collaging the border, background, and around letters and images. For six weeks students worked in small groups to complete seven beautiful, vibrant signs for their Theme Mounds.


Along the way, we learned more than new art skills. We learned about teamwork. We learned what it means to be a good communicator and why that’s important, especially when working as part of a group. We learned that it’s okay to not be perfect and that our signs are actually more fun to look at when the lines aren’t straight and colors overlap. We learned that it’s okay to take our time and work slowly and thoughtfully. We learned how to interact with a professional and ask questions in a respectful way.

We’re all incredibly proud of the final product and can’t wait for the completed signs to be installed in our Farm Lab.  David and I are even prouder of the students who worked so hard to create something not just for themselves but for their entire school community.

Written by Elizabeth Lemanski, one of Avondale’s GSF leads.  Special thanks to Bethanne Hill for her time and talent.  You can check out more of Bethanne’s work here and here.


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