School

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.

Rent-a-Plant

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.

Magic Bean Challenge

"Most of my seventh grade students hadn't grown much of anything before," reported Naif Shahady, from Slidell, LA. "I wanted them to try some growing and to think about the basic needs of plants."

Coaxing Tree Seeds

"In the beginning of the school year, I ask my fourth graders to bring in any kinds of seeds they find outdoors, then we plant them and observe what happens," says teacher Tom Murphy from Farmington, MN. When students discovered that garden seeds like marigolds sprouted quickly, but few seeds from native trees such as walnuts and oaks began to grow, the stage was set for a year-long investigation. "Students wondered why the tree seeds didn't sprout," says Tom.

Thematic Gardens

School gardens can take a variety of shapes and sizes. These barrels are placed outside each classroom and can easily complement lessons.An ordinary mixed vegetable, flower, and herb garden provides endless possibilities for explorations across the curriculum. Many schools have also chosen to create special thematic gardens to focus and inspire garden adventures. Consider the possibilities of a Native American garden, for instance, for making connections to social studies and beyond.

Sensational Soils

Michael Zahm's fourth graders in Carmel, IN, gathered lots of "dirt" this year -- quite literally -- as a way of linking geography and earth science studies with indoor gardening. Letters went out early in the year to parents, teachers, and other students asking them to bring back samples of soils from their travels and vacations. By February, a remarkable 55 soil samples from 20 different states had been returned to the kids, who then plotted each sample on a map.

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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 07/25/2014
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