"My teaching partner and I believe that allowing students some degree of choice about what and how they learn is a great motivator. We like to set a tone that encourages kids to develop the skills and confidence to access resource people, find information, and take action," reports Prescott, AZ, teacher Katie Baird.
GrowLab® is a K-8 plant-based instructional program that invites educators to use plants as a springboard for investigative, student-centered learning. In GrowLab classrooms, indoor and outdoor gardens become living laboratories for active inquiry, where teachers prompt students to question, experiment, and construct their own understanding of the world around them.
“I’m really trying to encourage my students to think about their place in the world and how they can [either] make it a better place or be users and just use up what we have,” says Wearwood Elementary School science teacher Casey Berg. Casey turns to trees to help relay this message to her students.
“I always look for interesting and relevant themes to hook students,” says fourth grade teacher Ruth Pinson from Armuchee Elementary School. But, she admits, she never imagined she’d cast her lot with insects, much less have their young crawling all over the classroom! Inspired by a workshop on raising monarchs, Ruth became hooked. “The idea of working with monarchs gave me such a shot of enthusiasm that I figured it would surely do the same for my students.”
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Join the Journey!
Learn more about Journey North and register to participate in one of its exciting migration studies or other seasonal adventures.
Noelle Kramer hadn’t planned to delve into citizen science, but her students were rather persuasive. As her third and fourth graders in Dixon, California read aloud from Time for Kids, something sparked their interest. “An article on a citizen science program called The Lost Ladybug Project asked kids to become ladybug spotters in order to help scientists find a native species that had nearly disappeared,” says Noelle.
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The Tale of the Lost Ladybugs
Once the state insect of New York, the nine-spotted ladybug population diminished until it all but disappeared from the radar. In fact when some youngsters spotted one of them near their Virginia home in 2006, it was the first of that species seen in the Eastern United States in 14 years! John Losey and other scientists at Cornell University figured that if lots of eyes scoured the country, they might help find more of them along with some other native lady beetles that were also disappearing. And so, the Lost Ladybug Project was born. But it wasn’t just about documenting locals. Scientists – and many homeowners – noticed that populations of other ladybugs were exploding. This included the orangey Asian lady beetle, which was introduced in this country to control pests. Have these imports excluded the native species from their habitats? This is one of the questions that scientists are exploring, thanks to a growing team of citizen scientists.
Teaching Life Skills through a Youth Garden Business
Vocational agriculture teacher Rose Ormsby-Krueger (North Hollywood, California) uses a cut flower garden and farmers’ market enterprise to teach North Hollywood High School students valuable life skills. “Flowers don’t tell you they’re hungry every day, but they tell you they’re thirsty,” she says. “It takes responsibility to make sure they get watered and taken care of.”
Growing flowers helps teach kids many art, language, language arts, math, and science concepts—along with patience, responsibility, and appreciation for the natural world. Below are some lesson ideas we really like.
NGA President Mike Metallo Remembers Kitchen Garden Season Kick-Off
Mike Metallo, NGA President and Michelle Obama working with the children in the gardenI'm sitting in Reagan National Airport waiting for my flight and thinking back on the events of the White House Kitchen Garden Season Kick-Off. It was a once-in-a-lifetime day.