Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MEF Grants Awarded to Central School for Outdoor Enrichment

Central School is very grateful to both the Marshwood Education Foundation and Central School PTO for their support of both the Outdoor Classroom and Fine Arts Week. We couldn't do it without the support of our community. To learn more about Marshwood Education Foundation, click here to visit their website.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fresh Food Express

On Tuesday, November 2nd, preK-third grade students had the opportunity to vote on a new name for the Hoop House Project. We had over 250 names suggested by the students. The list was narrowed down to five and the winning name was the "Fresh Food Express". We are looking forward to our next visit with Kathy Gunst on November 15th. She will be accompanied by Eileen Behan, a nutritionist, who has some great activities planned for the students.

Outdoor Classroom Updates

Mark your calendar! There are two important Outdoor Classroom dates coming up next week that you may want to be aware of:

When: Tuesday Nov 9, 2010, 6:30-8 pm
Come get informed and join the volunteers as we organize several important groups for the outdoor classroom. We will be talking about cooking, vegetable gardening, party planning, seeking sponsorships, and giving an update on everything in the works! This is a great time to sign up to help any way you can. If you can't make it but have interest in an area of the project, please leave a message and we will gladly sign you up and contact you after the meeting.

When: Saturday Nov 13, 2010, from 10 am on
For our second volunteer work day, we will be building the hoop house and working on the stream bed for a rain garden, raking in grass seed and tackling other fun tasks. If you have an hour or two (or four) on Saturday the 13th, come join us - we'd love your help! If you have access to tools or landscaping materials please email back for a detailed list of items we are looking for this time around and tasks we will try to accomplish.

A note about email: We will be using a site called BigTent for much of the Outdoor Classroom communication. If you would like to keep on receiving updates and alerts on the Outdoor Classroom, please email us at  and we will add you to the BigTent list. You will be able to decide how much information you would like in your email box while having easy access to everything posted on the site, and a way to voice your ideas and opinions as well. We hope that will help everyone stay informed and connected.

Hope to see you at either event!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Students Vote! Naming the Hoop House Project

Last week the students were invited to come up with a new name for the Hoop House Project and cooking classes. Can you believe we had over 250 entries?! Our dedicated Hoop House committee worked hard to narrow it down to four. Now we need your help! If you are a student at Central School, please click the link below to place your vote on the new name for the Hoop House Project. Voting begins at 9 am on November 2nd and closes at 3 PM. We will announce the winner at an assembly on Wednesday.

Click here to vote.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Central School on NHPR

Kathy Gunst shares about Central School's Hoop House and cooking classes. The segment includes Kathy's most recent visit to a first grade classroom.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Update from Kathy Gunst

Want to know what's going on? Here is an article from by Kathy Gunst detailing the progress of the Hoop House Project and Cooking Classes.

October 16th Work Day

The October 16th work day was a complete success. Our gratitude goes out to the dozens of volunteers who helped plant over 200 trees and shrubs. It was a fun, productive day. Pictures to come!

Friday, October 8, 2010

First Grade Smoothie Recipes

Mrs. Darling's class had a great time creating these fruit smoothie recipes with Kathy Gunst and hope you enjoy them too!

Yum Yum Smoothie
By:  Tucker, Mia, Quinn, Erin

½ apple
6 strawberry slices
2 spoonfuls of pears
½ cup milk
½ cup yogurt

Kyserrebzac Smoothie
By:  Zachary, Rebecca, Serafina, Kyle

3 strawberries
4 banana chunks
3 pineapple pieces
1 cup of milk
3Tablespoons of yogurt

Banana Cider Smoothie
By:  Kylie, Ben, Brady

½ cup apples
¼ cup pears
¼ cup strawberries
3 blackberries
2 tsp. yogurt
2 tsp. cider
2 banana pieces

By:  Kate, Amelia, George, Max

1 cup apples
1 cup blackberries
1 cup pears
4 slices of banana

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fruit Smoothies with Kathy Gunst

     Students in three classes had the opportunity to try new fruits and create their own fruit smoothie recipes today with local chef and author, Kathy Gunst. Paying careful attention to serving amounts, students copied out their recipes to take home and share. Some of the ingredients were new to the students, such as figs, pomegranates, kiwis and coconut milk. Many thanks to today's volunteers for their help with food preparation and assisting with the fruit smoothies. Kathy Gunst will be visiting Central School classrooms throughout the school year. If you are interested in volunteering or giving a financial donation to the project, please send an email to

Central Purpose and Goals of the Outdoor Classroom

The central purpose of the landscape restoration project is to expose children to the benefit of a beautiful and sustainable landscape that introduces them to natural elements for play, social interaction, and educational opportunities.

A diverse and healthy landscape will compliment the Centrals School’s curriculum in that it will provide an opportunity to observe nature and the natural patterns that underpin the fields of biology, mathematics , physics and of course art. For instance, the great poet, thinker and naturalist Henry David Thoreau credited his language skills, in “Faith in a Seed”, on his life long observation of nature.

The goal of exposing children to nature is seen in research documented and cited by Richard Louv in “The Last Child in the Woods” and Robin Moore in “Play for All” which indicates that because children are sensory creatures, interaction with nature has the following attributes:

Increases sensory stimulation
Increases Cognitive abilities
Aids creativity and learning
Increases attention span
Benefits language skills
Develops self confidence
Develops the power of observation
Furthers a sense of connectedness

The Concept Plan for Restoration of the Central School Campus includes the following design elements to achieve the above goals:

-Walking Trail: a perimeter path that exposes the user to the various existing and planned landscape elements and plant communities. The trail will meander through the various forest, meadow and plant communities. This trail will link the children to the school entrance and surrounding neighborhood paths.

-Natural Play elements will include a rain garden, a log walk composed of tree trunks and limbs, boulder walks, sculpted earth mounds for climbing, paved areas for play, and relocation of the smaller play structures. These areas are to be designed to allow children to challenge themselves at their own skill level so their skills can develop at their own pace. These play features shall be shaped and formed to create niches to allow for kids to gather in small intimate groups or be alone.

-A “re-wilding” or naturalizing of the existing landscape areas. This will include a meadow, seeded
with native grasses and some wild flowers from the edge of the existing forest into the existing athletic field. This undulating meadow area shall be planted with native shrubs and tree saplings and serve to extend and enlarge the usable landscape for the kids. The meadow shall be shaped to create distinct spaces and still accommodate organized play. The campus shall be planned with plant communities that are in transition which will compliment the existing forest to offer the user a full range of plant diversity

-The overall effect of the above design elements of the proposed restoration shall be to create a very diverse community park in the center of town.

Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Conversation with Terrence Parker

At the PTO's September 8th meeting, Terrence Parker and Kathy Gunst shared how the Outdoor Classroom and Garden have progressed and the steps that need to happen next. It was an exhilarating meeting that left everyone with a "can do!" attitude. Terrence emphasized that this project is truly a community project, with many local businesses and community members having already donated their time, talent and resources to build what will truly be an exceptional creative play environment for our children. These three You Tube videos are clips from Terrence Parker's presentation.

Proposed Rock Garden
Proposed Log Walk
Proposed Boulder Walk
Earthen Mound
SO much work still needs to be done! Donations of time, talent and resources are greatly appreciated. If you are interested in being a part of this community project, please contact principal Vicki Stewart at vstewart(at) Our next work day is Oct. 2nd!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Central School's Hoop House

You will soon see the outline of Central School's hoop house when the foundation is built on the next work day. But what is a hoop house? Here is an image of a hoop house at an organic farm. Our hoop house will be 25 ft long, 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Using measuring tape, a meter stick or a ruler, try measuring a space 25 by 10 feet in your backyard or playground to get an idea of how big the space is. We'll be able to grow quite a few different kinds of vegetables in that space!

Here is a video that describes a hoop house and how it helps plants grow, even in the winter!

What Is a Hoop House? -- powered by

Here is another short video that describes the benefits of a hoop house.

Benefits of a Hoop House -- powered by

Friday, September 3, 2010

Principal Vicki Stewart Gives A Tour of Our Progress

Vicki Stewart, principal

Vicki Stewart gives us a tour of Central School's playground, highlighting some of the changes that have been made and the wonderful progress being made due to community members and local businesses.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Work Day

Over the summer we had two workdays to take out the invasive plants and prepare the landscape.We want to thank all the helpful hands. It was a great day!
 While clearing invasive plants from the edge of the woods, we found old drainage pipes and trash that had blown in over the years.

This is one of the piles of invasive plants that were taken away by Urban Tree Services.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kathy Gunst, from the White House to Central Elementary School

In the beginning...
Click here to read about Kathy Gunst's trip to the White House to hear Michele Obama speak.