Labyrinth at Teaticket School Aims to Encourage Mindfulness
The new school year brings a new addition to Teaticket Elementary School, with the recent installation of the Kinder-Garden Labyrinth of Learning.
The project was conceived by the school’s kindergarten, art, physical education, and music teachers as part of their vision for an outdoor education center. A former playground area was repurposed to create a gathering and learning space for students, staff, and families.
“This started as an idea to plant an ABC garden with a plant representing each letter of the alphabet. The project just grew and grew from that little seed,” said Teaticket kindergarten teacher Stacey Boudrot. “Our gardens now reflect that original idea, along with a Rainbow Garden inspired by Lois Ehlert’s book, “Planting a Rainbow Garden” and a vegetable garden. These areas promote hands-on science exploration and experimentation.” Over the past summer, several teachers raised and nurtured caterpillars for a collaborative butterfly garden with the Cape Cod Monarch Butterfly Project. A dedication ceremony for the Labyrinth of Learning is tentatively planned for this fall.
The labyrinth was made possible by a grant from Falmouth Education Foundation, which funded the plans and cut stone for a 9-circuit St. Paul design in gray and charcoal. Mrs. Boudrot described the labyrinth as a school and community effort. “There were many people instrumental in the project,” she said. Preparation work for the site was completed by the Falmouth Department of Public Works, the Barnstable County Sherriff’s Department, and the Teaticket custodial staff and kindergarten team. Installation was coordinated and completed by the Artistic Garden design team, including owner Suzanne Apellaniz and her staff, Chris O’ Rourke, Trevor Andrews, and Vincent Myette. Mrs. Boudrot and her colleague Lynn Van Etta, along with Tom and Ben Van Etta, in addition to various Teaticket teachers and staff, and Teaticket parent Randy Azzato.
“We especially want to recognize Stephen Augusta at Falmouth Lumber for delivering the nine pallets of product to the site,” Mrs. Boudrot added.
Charles Jodoin, the recently appointed Interim Executive Director of Student Services, was serving as Teaticket principal when Lynn Van Etta approached him with the concept.
“I immediately told her to run with the idea while giving her my full support. It has been an overwhelming outpouring of time and talent from many volunteers, as well as the financial generosity of this community,” he said. “This garden makes learning come alive. It provides many opportunities for all our students to learn important lessons which will span all across the curriculum.”
The goal for the labyrinth, according to Mrs. Boudrot, is to provide opportunities for relaxation, mindful focus, and meditation.
“Our job as early childhood educators is to help children to develop self-regulation and a love for learning. We are living in such a fast-paced, over-scheduled world and walking a labyrinth naturally slows you down. It requires concentration and focus while encouraging creativity and imagination,” she said. “Research also shows there are opportunities for problem- solving and conflict resolution. It has a calming effect for mind and body. We feel that it is a perfect creative complement to the gardens which integrate literature, science, artistic design, and physical activity.”
Mrs. Boudrot expressed her appreciation to the Falmouth Education Foundation.
“I encourage other teachers to apply for grants from FEF for innovative and creative learning opportunities for their students. It doesn't matter the size of the project,” she said. “FEF has funded many projects at Teaticket, including technology, art, and science. They are so generous and we are so grateful.”
Falmouth Education Foundation offers competitive grants to teachers across the school district so they can provide students enriching educational experiences not funded within the school budget.