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Garden at Germantown school helps students with dyslexia learn art, history and science

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 2:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the last few months, elementary students at The Bodine School have been cultivating a vegetable garden.

It is not just any vegetable garden. It is called a Three Sisters Garden.

“Native Americans were very in tune with nature. They came up with ways of growing the crops together so that each plan would support the other,” said Lori Wakefield, the art teacher at The Bodine School.

Drawing upon a Native American agriculture tradition, students at the elementary school have planted corn, squash and beans with instruction from their art teacher.

“Techniques are wonderful, but I’ve always felt a good hook is if you give them a connection to a culture or a time period. It kind of sparks their imagination,” said Wakefield.

It’s a teaching strategy that is important for students at Bodine. The school’s entire student body is made up of students with dyslexia, a neurological condition that causes difficulties with word recognition, spelling and comprehension.

“We practice a way of teaching that engages all of their senses,” said Wakefield, ““It seems to help them forge connections.”

The garden serves as a hands-on way students can learn about art, history and science.

They have also made corn-themed artwork that ties in the gardening they’ve participated in.

Soon students will harvest what they have grown.

“I think it’s really cool that our school does this,” said one fourth grade student.

Wakefield hopes the students realize that what they’ve learned in the garden connects to other subjects in school.

“Things that are really important to people, that their lives depend on, will turn up in their artwork,” she said, “You might think, ‘That’s a beautiful, abstract design”. You look closer and notice, ‘Wait a minute, that’s a plant! and I know what it is!’.”

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