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At Whippany Park High School, a vegetable and flower garden is the setting for this award-winning program in which students in grades 9-12 with multiple disabilities learn fine and gross motor skills, and a variety of subjects, by working in a garden.

Students use information on seed packets to predict when a seed will germinate, thus learning math. They study the plant life cycle in science, and practice language arts skills by writing a description of the growing plants. They also learn life skills, such as cooking with herbs.

Students in the developmental program also have the opportunity to socialize with the high school’s Peer Buddies, who assist with the program. Finally, they learn about healthier eating habits, and get exercise from their work in the garden.

The hands-on program, which began in the spring of 2012, has greatly increased students’ ability to comprehend and retain knowledge. It has grown to include field trips to sites such as Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Rutgers Gardens and County College of Morris. All in all, the benefits harvested by the school, and the students, have been numerous.

Information

Contact: Maria Comacho, special education teacher, mcamacho@hpreg.org

Online: http://www.njsba.org/news-publications/school-leader/julyaugust-2014-volume-45-1/innovations-in-special-education-2014-winners/

Recognized by the 2014 Innovations in Special Education program