Spring -- the time when the thoughts of classroom gardeners turn to starting an abundance of seedlings for gardens, gifts, and sales. Why not turn your need for growing containers into a springboard for challenging students' imaginations and reinforcing lessons on waste reduction and recycling?

Budding Artists Capture Flowers

Art and Science in the School Garden

"Our fourth graders were focusing on observing, listening to, and writing about the transitions and transformations that took place between winter and spring," reports Jericho, VT, teacher Denise Larrabee.

Cultivating Inquirers

Watching pollination first hand is bound to draw inquiry out of your school gardeners."There's no question that teachers and students are equally fascinated when they have ample time to observe and investigate flowers and their pollinating partners," reports Lisa Wagner, education coordinator at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

Empowering Flowering

"In preparation for a life cycle unit, I took my second graders to a local farmer's market with the intent of finding seeds on the way and hidden in the produce we brought back," reports Marilyn VanDerWerff from Fremont, MI. Back in the classroom, Marilyn's students counted, sketched, compared, and wrote about the treasures they'd discovered.

Leftover Lessons

"Several years ago my sixth graders were exploring decomposition using 2-liter soda bottles as suggested in the book Bottle Biology. But their interest waned because the action was so slow," reports Denise Grap from Simi Valley, CA. With a goal of helping her students discover that there was more than one way to digest a banana peel, Denise invited the city's waste management educator to offer them a worm's eye view.

Petal Attraction

"The biggest thrill for my kids was noticing the constant changes from month to month in colors, textures, and insect life as different flowers bloomed in our wildflower patch," reports Wilmington, DE, teacher Sandy Thurston. Each of Sandy's learning-disabled students observed and sorted the seeds in a pinch of a wildflower seed mixture, calculated the percentages of different types of seeds, then made predictions about how different seedlings would look once they grew, using catalogs and identification books as resources.

Animal Feeding Frenzy

"We have animals from 11 different habitats in our class, all with different dietary needs," reports Syndee Malek from Redford, MI. "My fifth graders wondered whether we could grow foods in the GrowLab to supplement the diets of our iguanas, guinea pig, birds, hamsters, snails, and other classroom pets."

Getting a Charge Out of Inquiry

"My fourth graders had finished an electrical unit, and we moved on to growing plants and studying plant needs," said Painted Post, NY, teacher Carolyn Perry. "Then one curious student suggested that since plants have certain needs and since electricity could produce some of those components, such as heat and light, perhaps electrical current would help plants grow better." With support from Dan Fitch, Science Training Specialist in the district, Carolyn's class secured materials to test some "shocking" hypotheses.

Peas, Beans, and ... Bacteria?

While researching legumes -- the family of plants that includes peas, beans, and clovers -- Page Keeley's seventh graders in Cooper's Mills, ME, learned that microbes can be magnificent, and they came to appreciate the interdependence of life on Earth.

Mystery Seeds

"I wanted my students to use their observation and thinking skills," reports third grade Cincinnati, OH, teacher Jay Williams, "and to get involved in basic plant care. "So I started out by planting a range of seeds (beans, marigolds, etc.) In enough pots so that each student had one. I then told the students that these were mystery seeds and that I was leaving it to the class to determine the seeds' identities."

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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 01/22/2015
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