By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – A plant grant has borne fruit – well, vegetables – and created a growing interest in all things green among lead teacher Shannon Tyrybon’s students at Montessori Center of Downriver.
To plant the seeds of curiosity in botany and the plant world among the eager youngsters under her care, Tyrybon has expanded her Watch it Grow program thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, in affiliation with the Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award.
The award committee provides $500 to the learning programs and $500 to the teachers to acknowledge their efforts.
Montessori Center of Downriver, 15575 Northline, is a private, tuition-based preschool.
Tyrybon said the students are growing vegetables they will be able to eat, and have another garden dedicated to growing fresh food for the center’s pet guinea pig. Children take turns watering the plants and tending to the garden.
Other activities stimulate the senses outdoors as well: a barefoot path with alternating sand, pebbles, wood and other natural textured surfaces; a Plexiglas reusable drawing surface; a weaving frame, and brightly painted flower pots, hung upside down, that serve as a chime-like music center.
Tyrybon is pleased with the start of the program, and is already thinking of ways to grow the program next year.
“The kids are suggesting things that they want to grow, and we’ll put that on the list for next year,” she said with a smile. “It is so exciting now that it has actually happened. They are actually feeding our pet, the seeds are blooming, this is exciting.”
Director and owner Mary Lamos said she is pleased to see the children enjoying the plants and other sensory stations.
“It’s a very rewarding, exciting and enriching experience to see the children, especially when they grow food to feed an animal,” Lamos said. “They have all these sensory opportunities that they don’t normally get, everything is their size, and they are just happy.”
For more information about the Montessori Center of Downriver, call 734-282-6465 or go to montessoridownriver.com.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)