Teaching Partnerships

When roles are switched and students become teachers, it can be a growing experience for everyone. Jim Micarelli, Science Department Head at Everett High School in Everett, MA, wrote to describe an innovative GrowLab workshop for elementary teachers which incorporated an unusual group of presenters -- their former students turned high school seniors.

Turn on Learning With Bulbs

"A bulb is a promise," Wendy Sherman tells her pre-schoolers in Sudbury, MA. "You can do your part to provide certain basic conditions for them, and then you have to hope that nature comes through with the rest." These marvelous packages, each containing a complete miniature plant and its lunch, can provide a captivating theme for exploring plant growth and adaptations, using math skills, and enriching history, while brightening winter classrooms with the promise of spring.

Grow it Yourself Center

When students at Fiske School in Lexington, MA, finish lunch early, they can choose from a range of vegetable and flower seeds to plant at a special "Grow it Yourself Center" in the hallway. "I set up a plastic tub full of potting soil at one end of the table," says science enrichment consultant, Stephanie Bernstein. "Students can choose from a variety of donated seeds that I've organized by type. We have containers and water bottles available, and a poster and film loop featuring plant growth. A parent staffs the table during lunch periods on certain days."

Mystery Pollution

The second graders in Lynn Hervey's Peacham, VT, class didn't know what they were using to water the corn in their GrowLab, but it soon became clear that some plants were not doing well. Lynn had collected "mystery solutions" for watering the corn plants-water mixed with motor oil from the floor of a garage, salt water, rain water, and tap water. Students cared for their plants, watered them regularly, but then, said Lynn, "I soon had a rebellion on my hands -- it was clear that some of the solutions were harming the students' precious plants.

Garden-Based Literature for Young Children

Amy Kjerrumgaard's first graders in Michigan have had the pleasure of exploring and tasting fruits, from A to Z. After reading Lois Ehlert's Eating the Alphabet, Amy's students got excited about locating and exploring every one of the 26 fruits described. "They were so eager to run with it," said Amy, "that I ran with them, and it developed into a year-long theme."

Where in the World...?

A simulated desert in Jan Model's Michigan classroom became a centerpiece for practicing mapping and geography skills. With support from a local horticulturist, Jan's seventh graders created a GrowLab desert environment in which they planted cacti and succulents.

Do Plants 'Eat' Soil? (Student Preconceptions)

Students come to the classroom with ideas about their world, shaped by everyday experience, language, and imaginations that fill in the gaps. Do your students believe that plants suck up food from the soil? Or that trees are not really plants?

Boston first-grade teacher Karen Gallas reports that one student brought in a toy motorcycle, expecting it to grow if planted. Meg Richardson, a teacher liaison for a plant-based curriculum in New York, shared that during a unit on plant parts, students unanimously stated that all roots are brown.

Cross-Grade Garden Tutors

Beth Garver's fifth graders in Effingham, South Carolina have learned about more than just plants using GrowLab. They've discovered the challenges and rewards of sparking young minds. In addition to conducting their own indoor gardening investigations, these fifth graders cooperatively plan, conduct, videotape, and critique science lessons with a first grade class of indoor gardeners.

Grow Your Own Caterpillar Food!

The life cycle of painted lady butterflies was a big topic of study for elementary students in Smithville, NJ, last year, so science resource teacher Carol Ann Margolis ordered caterpillars from a science supply company.


The budding entrepreneurs in Carolyn West's special education class in New York City chose "The Green Team" as the name for their interior plant business. Using their newly acquired knowledge about caring for growing things, these seventh and ninth graders raise houseplants from cuttings in their GrowLab, then advertise and rent plants to individual teachers and administrative offices, maintaining each plant for 50 cents a week.

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Copyright © 1999-2014 National Gardening Association     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 09/22/2014
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