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Maple Syrup, Step-by-Step

- Maple Syrup
- Sugarbush Spring by Marsha Wilson Chall. A girl and her grandfather tap sugar maple trees and tell the story of making maple syrup. ISBN: 978-0688149079


1. Hold up a bottle of maple syrup and ask the students if they know how syrup is produced?

2. Tell the students that syrup comes from trees, but do not tell them how it is extracted.

Be the Tree

- Tree cookies, for each student (can be cut from tree trimmings or available in bulk from nature suppliers like Nature-Watch)


The tree trunk and its main branches have five key parts, as illustrated by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Sugar Snow

- Types of sugar (i.e., maple syrup, molasses, white sugar, brown sugar, honey), enough for each student to sample
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Share Chapter 7: The Sugar Snow, pg. 117-130. An excellent account of tapping trees for maple sugar. ISBN:  978-0060797508

Baking Bread to Nurture Cultural Understanding

When Ginger Clarke’s kindergarteners participated in the harvesting of their first school garden, yanking zucchini was surely a highlight. But then came the taste test. “None of the kids liked it either raw or cooked,” says Ginger. Determined to find a way to get students to try the versatile vegetable, Ginger invited the class to use it to make bread from scratch. It was a hands-down hit. “The kids were amazed by how much they loved it,” she explains.

Eatin' with Grandma

When Molly Hesser and other home school parents pondered what new project could support their local food and sustainability focus, they came up with a simple twist. Each family would specialize in raising just one type of vegetable, and they’d pool their products. To bring social studies into the mix, youngsters would first interview grandparents and other family elders about favorite foods from the past.

Fertile Ground: Growing Food, Community, Cultural Connections

Photo courtesy of Fertile GroundWhen Massachusetts parent and environmental consultant Catherine Sands learned that a garden was slated for her daughter’s rural elementary school, she saw an opportunity. Why not use the plots as a springboard for enticing students to eat fresh food, connecting them to diverse communities, and introducing them to local aspects of food systems?

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Fertile Ground

Over the years, Fertile Ground has grown from a single school pilot program to a consulting group able to “empower schools and families to make smart food choices, and to work together across race, class, and difference, improving their communities through school gardens, food celebrations, and caring for the land.” Intrigued? Learn more or contact Fertile Ground staff through the program’s Website.

Cultivating Peace and Cultural Understanding

One Plot at a Time

“You're learning about different countries around the world so it’s like you're already creating peace by learning about them," says Seryn, a Montessori school student from Louisville, KY. The centerpiece of her living multicultural “textbook” is a schoolyard garden filled with crops that students and chefs turn into dishes from around the globe.

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Peace Garden Materials and Grant

The Muhammad Ali Peace Garden program and grant was created to help teach children to learn about respect for diverse cultures and nutrition by raising their own food with plants from different countries. It is sponsored by Yum! Brands, which has committed $100,000 over four years as an extension of its World hunger Relief effort. Educators around the world can download a free teacher’s guide and grant application forms (available in six languages) by visiting My Peace Garden or National Gardening Association’s Peace Garden Grant page. Hurry! The next grant application deadline is January 5, 2011.

Food Roots and Routes

Overview: Students explore the journey of produce from farm to table and chew on the idea of eating close to home.

NCSS National Social Studies Standards Addressed:
Theme 3: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

Wreath Activity Provides a Sense of Place

James Doyiakos, environmental science teacher at Roald Amundsen High School in northwest Chicago, figured out how to turn an invasive plant problem into a creative lesson to connect his 150 freshman students with nature—by making wreaths.

Wreaths from the Fall Garden

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Wreath Tip

Grapevines are a popular wreath base. If you want to use grapevine, it’s better to cut it before the first hard frost. Soak it in water to make it more pliable. If it won’t be used right away, coil it in a round tub or laundry basket to help it keep its shape.

As autumn gives way to the holiday season, and the days grow colder and darker, we instinctively want to capture nature’s final display of color before the snow flies. Wreaths are a creative, simple, kid-friendly way to do this.

Just about any natural material can be used to make a wreath, whether as the base or as a decoration on the base. Let your imagination wander—a wreath of bark? Driftwood? Seashells? Twigs? Bits of wood? Feathers?

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Copyright © 1999-2012 National Gardening Association     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 04/19/2014
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