Marvelous Meadow Project

February & March 2007
Oakville Elementary School, St. Mary’s County, Renee Reining,

Oakville Elementary students and staff created a meadow in April 2006. The entire school was involved in the project and will continue to be involved with the meadow. The students will observe the plants and grasses growing in the meadow. Once the meadow is established it will serve as an extraordinary “outdoor classroom.” Lessons have been and will continue to be conducted based on the meadow.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)

An environmental community need was met by this project. Oakville Elementary School is committed to helping the environment. We have taken on numerous environmental projects. Through research, students determined a meadow would be another excellent way to positively impact the environment. The Chesapeake Bay is helped by this project. Ultimately, birds, insects, and other wildlife will be helped as well. While researching meadows, students determined a direct link between the meadow project and the Chesapeake Bay. Through their research, students discovered that the stream located approximately 100 yards from the meadow would ultimately create runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. According to their research, “Meadows, like forests and wetlands, provide protection to streams and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay as the thick vegetation allows rainwater to slowly percolate into the ground filtering out pollution. Recharged groundwater delivers cool, water to streams” (Case Study – Meadow, Hollywood Elementary, 1996). Meadows continue to enhance the environment by providing habitats for a variety of birds and small animals. Wildflowers provide nectar and seed for birds, mammals, and many insects. Insects offer pollination and are the basis of the Earth’s food web.

Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

The meadow project was thoroughly engulfed in classroom instruction. It incorporated instruction in all of the content areas. Fifth grade students determined the area of the meadow and justified their responses in writing. They utilized the scientific method by experimenting with which type of plastic, clear or black, would kill the grass faster. The students utilized electronic and print resources to write reports informing the Oakville community about meadows.

The reports also persuaded others to join their efforts to create a meadow. The fifth grade students educated the entire school on the importance of meadows by reading books about meadows to all classes. The students utilized technology in their presentations by using a visualizer to display the books. The readings were part of our school wide “Read Across America Day Celebration.” Many of the 40 students that participated in presenting and reading books were special education students. The experience was a wonderful way to launch the meadow and excite the entire school about the upcoming planting.

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?

The first step of the project was determining how to kill the grass in order to plant the meadow. The students utilized the scientific method in order to do so. The students reflected throughout the scientific method when they rationalized their hypothesis. They also reflected when justifying in writing what the dimensions of a 4000 sq. ft. meadow should be. After the actual planting, they reflected on the events of the day by summarizing and explaining their individual roles in the process.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?

The students took on leadership roles by planning each step of the meadow. They determined a need for a meadow, how the grass should be killed, and the size of the meadow. They exemplified leadership skills by writing reports that informed others about meadows and persuaded readers to join their effort. Fifth grade students were responsible for educating the rest of the school about meadows through their reports and by reading books about meadows to the other grades. On the day of planting the fifth grade students modeled how to broadcast the seed and “stomp” the seed to the rest of the students.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?

Wentworth Nursery provided the necessary materials at a discounted rate. Hollywood Fire Department hosed down the meadow. The parents of our students assisted with facilitating the actual planting. The Chesapeake Bay Trust provided the funding for the project through a grant.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?

The students and I conducted a great deal of research. Through our research we determined when and where to plant the meadow and what type of seed to plant. We utilized a case study from a school that had previously planted a meadow. Our Environmental Committee visited the other school and received guidance from a naturalist about how to implement a meadow. I determined a schedule to include all students in the planting process. Finally, I arranged for a local fire department to hose down the meadow. This of course was the highlight of the day for the students. They watched with great enthusiasm as the firemen hosed down the meadow.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?

The following Maryland Voluntary State curriculum objectives were met due to the meadow project:

  • Compose to inform using relevant support and a variety of appropriate organizational structures
  • Compose to persuade using significant reasons
  • Read fluently using expression and appropriate pacing
  • Identify and explain those behaviors that maintain or improve the environment
  • Explain how human activities, such as native plantings in schoolyard habitats, may have positive consequences on the natural environment
  • Utilize the Scientific Method
  • Determine Perimeter and Area

The project has been deemed a great success due to the high level of engagement of the students and the obvious benefits to the environment.