PYP1: The Wondrous Little Garden

 In a classic example of how the entire school community rallies around to promote and enrich student learning, the children of PYP1, much to their delight, were presented with their third field trip by none other than our Principal, Ms. Helen Sharrock and our PYP Coordinator, Ms. Carla Swinehart. They convinced us that this was yet another strong opportunity for experiential learning that we wouldn’t want our children to miss.

Within a couple of days, it had all been arranged and just like that we found ourselves at the doorstep of Mrs. Kavitha and Mr. Hector Andrade. Mr. Hector Andrade bid farewell to MBIS last year as the principal of the secondary school to pursue his passion and the focus of our Unit, growing and caring for plants. As the couple warmly welcomed us into their beautiful home and lives, we saw just how right the two ladies had been!

For in the little garden framing the house, we saw another world. There amid twenty-five different herbs, ten types of vegetables, five species of orchids and other flowers and all kinds of spices, was more learning potential than we could have ever hoped for! Among flowers, the children saw the tiniest hibiscus flowers in existence, roses, orchid plants and the beautiful rosella which can be used to make jam. We practised our counting skills on the lemon tree, counting the number of green lemons dangling on it before we went on to feel the thick smooth leaves of the vanilla plant. The children were amazed by the mini-banana plant which would grow fruit in the next six months and were just as awestruck by the varieties and hues of tiny chilies growing in the garden.

Of fruits, we saw the strawberry plant, the star fruit plant, the mulberry plant, dragon fruit and the custard apple plant. The young risk-takers tried a variety of edible leaves, rich in flavour such as the peppermint leaves and the rocket leaves and wrinkled their little noses to get a whiff of leaves belonging to plants such as the allspice plant, the thai basil and the lemon basil plants.

Then there were some truly peculiar plants such as the insulin plant which grew baby plants on its stem and the lady finger plant which grew some very, very long lady fingers (about one foot long!) and the cheese plant whose leaves looked like cheese and the cowpea plant whose long pods held delicious seeds.

Mr. Hector also dug out some famous roots namely turmeric and ginger, and showed us cherry tomatoes and a variety of eggplants. And so we went along, touching, tasting, smelling, exploring and discovering the wonders that grew in that little garden and just when we thought we had explored everything, we were very pleasantly surprised to be introduced to the family pets; a rabbit, a guinea pig and a tortoise.

For some of us animal lovers, this was the highlight of the trip as we watched good old rabbit and guinea pig munching on carrots, showing us how much other living things too depend on plants for their survival.

Once all the children had explored the garden and its bounties, it was time to share with our hosts our learning and to thank them for this memorable experience. Mr. Hector’s two-year old boxer joined his family as they bid us farewell. Walking out the door, we looked up to see a canopy of vines with tiny potatoes adorning the entrance. Potatoes on vines? With a gleam in his eyes, Mr. Hector said, “Ah, these are ‘air potatoes’ and then went on to inform us that they belonged to the yam plant whose roots would, in season, produces up to two kilograms of yams.

As his parting gift to us, Mr. Hector plucked an ‘air potato’ and gave it to our Mohamed with some strange instructions. But we don’t question this man with the magical green fingers. We will follow his advice even if it means putting this seed away in our cupboard till one day next April we find it growing a shoot. Just like that. On its own. Another miracle of nature.

Special thanks Mrs. Aikta Kapoor and Mrs. Jessica Valia for once again so willingly accompanying us on another one of our adventures.

~ Ms. Karishma, Ms. Shilpa and Ms. Jenifer