Indoor

Digging Deeper with Wildlife Habitats

Here are ideas for sparking learning with wildlife habitats:

  • Invite students to create an indoor habitat exhibit. Have them use drawings and magazine and seed catalog clippings to create a display depicting a habitat for butterflies, birds, or other animals.
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Learning Soars in Butterfly Garden

"Our students have certainly learned the basics about butterflies and the plants they depend on, but our butterfly garden has yielded an even richer harvest than that," says fifth grade, Orion, IL, teacher Marcia Whitmore. "What we've learned in this microcosm has prompted a richer understanding of ecology and the need to conserve habitats in other parts of the world," she adds.

Plants and Energy

Photosynthesis: During photosynthesis, plants absorb radiant energy from the sun (kinetic) and convert and store it as chemical energy (potential).What do plants have to do with energy? Believe it or not, in one way or another they’re related to almost every energy-oriented topic in the news today!   

Winter Twigs Inquiry

Trees make flower and leaf buds during warm weather when there is plenty of sun available for growth. These buds lie dormant during the winter (or dry months), then open in late winter and spring when stimulated by warmth, water, and/or increased day length. Investigating winter twigs in the classroom offers a great opportunity for inquiry.

For instance, have students observe, then draw and describe the different features and patterns they see. 

Rousing Tree Seeds

A few tips for successful seed germination

You'll improve your chances of successfully germinating tree seeds if you gather them as they mature, just before or after they drop from the tree. Have students inspect their finds, then discard those that have pinholes that could be caused by worms or that have other obvious damage. Another trick is to empty seeds into a bucket of water and discard the floaters, which are less likely to grow. Before trying to germinate tree seeds (and other wild seeds), you need to brush up on dormancy.

The Three Sisters

Native American Gardening

Although native peoples from different parts of North America used a wide range of agricultural techniques, perhaps the best known is the interplanting of corn, beans, and squash together--a trio considered by the Iroquois Indians of the east as "The Three Sisters." Numerous school gardeners in our network have experimented with Three Sisters and other Native American plantings, and others have expressed interest in doing so.

Corn Confidentials

Corn, called "mahiz" by the first Americans who met Columbus, and known by much of the world as maize, is known today by the botanical name Zea mays.

Popcorn Physics

Planting Corn at Crestview Elementary: 2011 Youth Garden Grant WinnerWhile many early Americans believed that popcorn (the ancestor of all corn) popped because a tiny angry spirit who lived inside the kernel wanted to escape, today's scientists think otherwise. They've learned that the extra-strong hull (outer covering) on a popcorn kernel seals in water that forms in the moist, pulpy center. When the kernel is heated, the water boils and turns to steam and expands.

Working with Wildflowers

A wildflower unit for your classroom can be simple or elaborate to fit your situation. It could range from observing and identifying wildflowers growing around the school or in nearby lots to collecting or obtaining seeds and trying to germinate them in the classroom. Or you might choose to establish a full-blown wildflower meadowVermont Garden Park Wildflower Meadow: An image taken at National Gardening headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont.

Amaryllis: Tropical Treasures in the Classroom

Amaryllis, tropical natives, are dramatic, fast-growing bulbs with brilliant blooms bound to captivate your classes year after year. Unlike bulbs from cool climates that require chilling, the amaryllis hails from warm climates, and will bloom 4-6 weeks after planting, with little care.

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Last updated on 08/21/2014
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