In Bloom At Molade

In a year of change, Mary Crane embraced new opportunities, including an exciting partnership with Bethel New Life (the organizations campus where Molade Center is located) and a project Bethel initiated with the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Mary Barron, Director of Molade Center (Austin) was instrumental in establishing this relationship. Along with Ms. Barron, Derbert Plaza, Director of Education 0-5, has ensured support for these weekly garden educator visits and classroom activities. The curriculum at Mary Crane embraces opportunities for children to learn in and with nature, an environment in which we know children flourish.

From April to October, educators from the Chicago Botanic Garden visited Molade (Austin) once a week and facilitated garden activities with teachers, children, and the senior residents of Bethel New Life. Each visit had a theme that allowed children to learn about the life cycle of a plant, starting from a seed. These hands-on activities taught children how plants benefit insects and other animals, allowed them to grow their own food which they then got to eat, and gave them the experience of "putting gardens to bed" for the winter. The proximity of the garden beds to their outdoor play space provided opportunities for the children to water and care for the gardens throughout the growing season, which they enjoyed. Both children and their teachers acquired new skills, deepened their knowledge, and developed new relationships through this partnership.

While looking back, Molade teacher Paige Santa Maria said:

"We knew the children would enjoy spending time in the garden, but what we didn't expect was how excited the children would get seeing how many animals get involved in the process. They loved searching for different animals such as ants with Ms. Julia and they even thought it was funny when the squirrels would take the food for a snack!"


Mary Crane Center provides high quality early care and education programs and services that support school readiness, empower parents and engage the community.

Administrative Office
4006 W Lake Street | Chicago, IL 60624
Main Phone: 773-242-2860
Fax: 773-242-2881