Wonderland’s amphitheater, pond area and tables offer our students outdoor learning spaces and provide a unique opportunity to explore the natural world.
Through structured classes, Wonderland provides SSKY students the opportunity to study science with all their senses as they explore the outdoor garden classroom through a variety of grade-appropriate, hands-on lessons ranging from plant life cycles, weather/environment, life sciences, entomology and biology. In addition to outdoor classes, Wonderland is utilized by teachers for special project, enjoyed by students and their parents for special outdoor lunches, and is open to the entire community throughout the year on scheduled “Dirt Days” and for special events such STEAM Night.
The curriculum for lessons in Wonderland is developed in collaboration with teachers and volunteer gardeners, including Master Gardeners and other experts in various fields. In past years, students have created illustrated journals to document their experiences and observations in Wonderland. These yearly journals offer a beautiful record of each students’ journey at Sonoran Sky. Example curricula from past years include:
- Weather: observe weather patterns and their influences on plants and animals, and differentiate between systems and structures of living and non-living things.
- Introduction to scientific method: kindergarten students learn to ask questions; define problems and make hypothesis, plan and carry out investigations; analyze and interpret data; and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information
- STEM Projects: Explore color and texture in the monochromatic flower and herb beds.
- Parts of a plant and plant life cycles: Seed germination, growth, death
- Soils: Color, size, shape, texture, clay, sand, loam
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle!
- STEM Projects: Explore varied environmental conditions in which cress seeds can grow. Document which environment promotes the best rate of growth. Track data points.
- Entomology: Arthropods, insects, arachnids, adaptation, camouflage
- Complete vs Incomplete Metamorphosis
- Water Cycle: Evaporation, condensation, precipitation
- Responsible Water-Wise issues and Choices
- STEM Projects: Investigate biodiversity in the garden and pond. Establish methods of documentation and tracking. Investigate why biodiversity is important and why it should be protected.
- Functions of a Plant: Roots absorb, Stems support, Leaves synthesize food, Flowers attract pollinators
- In-depth Plant Life Cycles: Growth, death, decay
- Compost Bin Studies:, Nitrogen and carbon sources and balance
- In-depth Water Cycle Issues: Drought, chemical runoff, how changing weather affects environment, farming, food supply
- STEM Projects: students are given a cabbage plant to grow at home. Determine factors that foster or inhibit growth. Provide data points for growth and development.
- Diversity and Adaptation: Sonoran Desert Environment; xeriscape; plant, animal, and insect adaptation; camouflage vs. mimicry
- Scientific Method in plant-based STEM experiments
- Classification: Insects and Plants
- Integrated Pest Management: IPM pests vs. beneficial insects’ impact in the garden
- Chemistry: H2O, CO2, NPK fertilizers, Growing natural pH indicators (red cabbage) in STEM plant-based experiments
- Environment: Drought and flooding changing weather, tropical deforestation vs. sustainable forestry, chemicals-GMOs, runoff effects on water, land, and food supply
- STEM Project: Cabbage chemistry, lab experiment and determination of how acids and alkalinity can impact growth and function in the environment.
- Sustainability: Human impact on desert environment, oceans, planet; greenhouse effect on biomes; carbon footprint; bio-fuels; tropical deforestation vs sustainable farming and forestry; chemical fertilizers and GMOs; runoff effects on water, land, and food supply.
- Green School Certification through World Wildlife Fund, evaluate school impact
- STEM projects: Rainwater harvesting, design and build recycled hanging garden system, design and build seed bomb launcher
- Participate in garden workdays that focus on practical development of garden schematics and structure. Learn about soil chemistry, texture, and composition. Determine how factors of weather, microclimates, biodiversity, and chemistry factor into appropriate plant selection and garden schematics. Assist in preparing the garden for planting and harvesting.
- STEM Projects: Evaluate soil chemistry, based on assessments establish appropriate soil amendments, determine differences between organic and inorganic approaches, assess differences in traditional versus alternate planting approaches, track data points for growth rates based soil chemistry as previously established.
All this happens simultaneously while:
- Learning to observe, appreciate, and document nature in Wonderland’s Pollinator Garden
- Creating art inspired by the garden;
- Growing food organically and understanding why;
- Cooking, learning about nutrition and healthy food choices;
- Learning where our food comes from and how it grows;
- Learning how weather, pests, and environmental issues affect our food supply and garden and how to react to it; and
- Learning how choices we make affect the environment and how each person can make a difference!
Funding and Support
Wonderland grew from the collaborative vision of parents, community members, students and school leadership over 9 years ago. It is made possible through the generous financial and volunteer support of our community and PTO. If you are interested in volunteering in the garden, please contact Wonderland@sskypto.com. No gardening experience required!