all ages

Growing Wildlife Habitats

"There is such a push to teach kids about biodiversity and interdependence through studying rainforests that are thousands of miles away, but it's much more powerful and effective to first explore these same concepts up close in our own backyards," says Waco, TX, educator Mary Nied Phillips.

In an effort to increase biodiversity on their urban school grounds, Mary's primary students turned a grassy courtyard into a thriving "wildscape."

Cultivating Keen Observers

Inviting students to closely inspect materials and phenomena in the natural world can spark their interest and generate compelling research questions.

Observation is also one of the primary tools we use to gather information and make sense of the world. It is a skill that many teachers assume students have, but without guidance, tools, and adequate time, student observations often lack detail and precision.

Solar vs. Supplemental Heat

There is a distinction between greenhouses that are heated largely by the sun and those that receive supplemental heat. In all but the deep South of the United States, the sun is never directly overhead, but moves across the southern sky from east to west. Its arc is higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

Solar greenhouses are meant to maximize light and heat, and to heat with the same light used to grow.

Greenhouse Styles

 

Greenhouses can be either freestanding or attached to a building and come in a variety of styles. Most commercial greenhouses are freestanding structures built in exposed areas with plenty of sunlight (maximum sunlight is the most important factor for efficient plant growth).

Selecting a Greenhouse

Greenhouse questions and considerations

If your school is considering building, purchasing, or resurrecting a greenhouse, there are a number of factors to consider--and questions to ask--long before you begin designing planting projects. This section highlights some of those factors.

Your decision about the type of greenhouse will be influenced by how you plan to use it.

Planning Questions

Gather key participants in your school to answer the following questions early in the planning process:

Digging Deeper with Literacy Connections

After reading the article, Garden Tales, consider some of these other opportunities for cultivating literacy within a plant and garden context.

Legends and Lore

Plant Stories Revealed

"When my third graders read legends and folklore, we discuss the difference between these tales, which are imaginary interpretations of natural phenomena, and scientific explanations, which can be proven using evidence," explains Salinas, CA, teacher Kata Callaghan.

"After discussing how tales are often created to explain nature, I challenge the kids to use their imaginations to explain growing phenomena -- why seeds grow better in certain soils than others -- for instance. Then we set up real science investigations to explore the same question," she continues.

School Greenhouse Guide

Opening New Worlds of Growing Experiences

Introducing greenhouse gardening into the classroom enriches the curriculum

[img_assist|nid=13778|title="Through this project-based curriculum, I have seen kids begin to realize that a plant is a living thing and that what they do to that plant on a day-to-day basis matters," shares Sandy May-Fitzgerald, a special education biology teacher.

Getting to Know Plants

Cultivating Understanding

What should kids know about plants? The formula for photosynthesis? The difference between a taproot and fibrous root? A botanist and a fourth grade teacher might have very different responses to this question. In any case, students need opportunities to observe, explore, and "mess around" with plants to spark their curiosity and appetites for learning more. As educators, we can then encourage active explorations through which students can discover how plants function, survive, and interact with other elements of the ecosystem.

Garden Planning

Finding Meaningful Memories

To prepare her students for carving out a garden site in the schoolyard, middle school teacher Joan Dungey in Yellow Springs, OH, invited them to reflect on and write about their favorite childhood places. Students next shared their memories with a partner; then each pair presented highlights to the rest of the class. "I found it interesting that nearly all of the students recalled some sort of peaceful natural spot where they had played or explored the world as youngsters," notes Joan.

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Kids Gardening and the National Gardening Association actively work with schools and communities across the country to provide educational resources and build gardens to promote health, wellness, and sustainability.

 

Copyright © 1999-2014 National Gardening Association     |     www.kidsgardening.org & www.garden.org      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 10/24/2014
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