Marilyn Erdman, Layne Dessner, Jack Dessner, Audrey Webster, Zach Reiland and Max Erdman planted gingko trees in the courtyard.

That was the "hole" point of digging.

"Gingko trees have interesting leaves, don't they?" asked Kingsland kindergarten teacher Marilyn, who gathered five Kingsland School Age Child Care (SACC) participants to assist her in planting a gingko tree, a red maple, an elm and two apple trees in the Kingsland Elementary School primary students' courtyard playground last Monday morning, lending a shovel, some gloves and funky foliage to the renovation project in progress there, following the district's decision to improve drainage and re-seed the grass so that children won't come into the school soggy and muddy.

Erdman chose the cool, sunny morning to put the students to work planting trees, some of which were donated by the Kingsland Builders Club and two which she gave in memory of men she respected.

"The Builders Club bought some trees, and I wanted to give some in memory of Dick Roberts and Dick Thompson, both nice men from Wykoff I knew and went to church with, so I chose an elm for Dick Thompson and an apple tree for Dick Roberts," she stated.

The trees will provide shade for the playground, as well as an educational experience or two - she was already using them to teach the SACC students about apples and seeds, asking them, "What happens when the apples fall off the tree in our courtyard? Do we throw them at people? Do we eat them? We don't throw them ... we take the seeds out, dig holes and plant another tree from the seeds."

She also set the children to work rescuing a stray oak tree seedling growing under the slide, inquiring how the oak tree came to grow there when there are no acorns on the playground. They concluded that either a bird or a squirrel had to have lost the acorn while passing through, and took care to use their fingers to dig so as not to break the roots, even though the faster way of digging was to use a shovel and unearth the seedling, which now has a home in Erdman's classroom and may eventually be returned to its sprouting yard.

The courtyard serves as an oasis for preschool through middle elementary students and their teachers, as it has playground equipment meant only for smaller children and also provides teachers more peace of mind since it doesn't have many escape routes for the littlest Houdinis. Erdman and her colleagues are excited to share the changes happening in the courtyard, as they're glad that it's dedicated to their students.

"We have all kinds of new things coming up, and we want to be sure that people know how wonderful this is for our kids. We'd also like to thank the community members who have worked on it and donated time or materials to make it a great place to play."