BY AMANDA MOSES
On February 2nd, third graders at PS 346 performed their first-ever garden play, “Mito: A PS 346 Story” for an audience of kindergarteners. The spotlight did not take place in a usual auditorium setting. No, this play was performed in the Aquaponics Laboratory with reallife greenery, fish, hydroponic and aquaponic units as the scenic backdrop.
“Mito: A PS 346 Story” is a tale written and directed by Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman. The story is based on the vegetation and organisms living in the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). Roytman decided to produce the play when she saw the excitement displayed by the students when they participated in a role-playing lesson about the garden community.
After weeks of rehearsing their lines and choreography, the students were ready to put on a grand performance. Unlike other plays, which are usually performed in front of parents and peers, the garden play was conducted in front of kindergarteners. The concept behind this audience shift was to provide a basic science lesson about ecosystems for younger children using the garden and older students as a catalyst to learning. In sum, the overall goal for this experience is to motivate kindergarteners to become more interested in science, allowing them to have exposure to STEM studies at an earlier age.
On the morning of the performance, the third graders got into character by having their faces painted and were handed various props that emphasized their roles. For example, if a student was a carrot, the orange vegetable was painted on their face, or if they were a flower bright green leaves and petals were drawn along their forehead and cheeks.
Roytman narrated the story of Mito, a young boy exploring the UGC and observing all of the organisms living there. Bird characters flapped their arms, butterflies danced and bees buzzed during their spectacular performance. Many of the kindergarteners laughed, clapped their hands, and recited lines such as, “Thank you for being a part of my garden community” along with the third grade actors.
After the play, the kindergarten class created a thoughtful card thanking the third graders for inviting them to the show.
Photos by Jacqui Roytman