all ages

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.

Thinking Like a Seed

As spring approaches, visions of bountiful gardens, greenhouses, and windowsills inspire classroom growers to plant seeds indoors. By learning a bit about what makes seeds tick, you can better focus students' seed observations and investigations, and enrich their understanding of what these little treasures need to spring to life.

Garden Training for Future Astronauts

After donning their space suits, a 5th-grade "astronaut commander" leads a crew of three K-2 "astronaut trainees" into a shuttle simulator, blasts into space, docks with the space station, and travels through the airlock into the space station simulator. Says Planetarium Resource Educator Dr. Stephen Schiff, "Once inside the International Space Station model, this young crew will work on different missions, including growing vegetables using a hydroponics gardening system."

But What Are They Learning?

Assessing Student Gains

By Anne Grall Reichel

As educators, we experience the excitement that hands-on approaches generate and enthusiastically watch students become involved with science as they create products and solve problems. Yet we find ourselves in somewhat of a dilemma. We sense that these approaches significantly impact student learning but find it difficult to measure the full extent of student growth using traditional test approaches.

Concept Maps

Charting Understanding

Your students may have memorized the parts of a flower, but do they conceptually understand the role of flowers in relation to plant life cycles, pollinators, and agriculture? One way to gain insight into what students know, to assess what they've learned, and to help them organize and represent concepts and meaningfully evaluate their own growth is to have them create "concept maps."

Digging Deeper with Potatoes

The article, The Eyes Have It, explores these unassuming, yet historically and nutritionally important tubers. Here are some additional ideas for curious minds.

  • In your outdoor garden (or large containers outdoors), experiment with different methods of growing potatoes -- in trenches, on top of soil covered in hay mulch, in piles of compost, etc. Design experiments to determine the best conditions, spacing, and ways to treat your potato crop. Consider bringing the nutritious harvest to your local food shelf or soup kitchen.

The Eyes Have It

Throughout history, they've been alternately maligned as food fit only for animals and revered as "apples of life." They're down and dirty and terrible unassuming, yet these often misunderstood vegetables kept Incan civilizations thriving, helped fuel the Industrial Revolution, triggered mass population shifts, and are now one of the world's four most important food crops. They are also used to produce paper, adhesive, biodegradable plastics, and even cosmetics.

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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     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 08/29/2014
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