Outdoor

Aromatic History

Herbs in Colonial Life

"We try to bring our study of colonial America to life by engaging students in actually 'experiencing' those times," reports fifth grade teacher Arna Caplan of Golden, CO.

Prairie Explorers

Growing Student Planners, Investigators, and Problem Solvers

"The description in The White Stallion of a young girl heading West during the 1800s intrigued my third graders," reports Barbara Vlasvich from Aurora, IL.

"After we wandered through the tall grass maze in a local prairie preserve and talked about the demise of such ecosystems, several kids suggested that we create our own at school." Barbara saw an opportunity to use the class penchant for prairies to engage students as planners, investigators, and problem solvers.

Cultivating History Lessons

"Our third and fourth grade team is studying the history of this region and the immigrants who settled it," reports Kathy Farrington from South Burlington, VT. With an eye toward making the investigation more meaningful for her pupils, Kathy asked them to interview parents, grandparents, and other elders to find out where they had emigrated from and what types of items they had valued enough to bring with them.

Growing Hope

Historical Garden of Healing

"A few years ago one of my students was harassed by other kids for reading a book about an African American," reports Warren, PA, middle school teacher Mark Davis.

"When I shared this with my ecology club students, they wondered what they could do to inspire students in our homogeneous school to appreciate and respect human diversity and develop better skills for handling problems," he adds. The outcome of their musings? A vision of a "garden of healing" for the school and community.

Global Gardening

"A committee of teachers in our middle school had set a goal of meeting curriculum standards and bringing life and depth to our world geography studies," reports Gaston, SC, geography teacher Angie Rye.

Milkweed Mavens

"My tenth graders had paired up with elementary students to fill a butterfly nectar garden with butterfly bush, black-eyed Susans, and so on, then realized the need for larval host plants," reports Collegeville, PA, teacher Sandy Sweeney.

Students knew from researching the monarch that the caterpillars needed milkweed, so they decided to collect its seeds and try to raise seedlings in the GrowLab to transplant to the garden.

Gardens to Entice Feathered Friends

"When my ninth graders decided to increase the diversity of life on our school site, they were particularly interested in attracting birds, since we were participating in Cornell's Project FeederWatch," reports Hyrum, UT, teacher Ron Helstern.

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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Seasonal Sleuths

Investigating Weather

"Our lives are so affected by weather-related changes that occur throughout the year here in the North, that my third graders and I regularly track signs of seasonal changes," reports Wayzata, MN, teacher Rick Johns.

Weatherwise Learners

Seeking Climatic Clues

"Because my seventh graders were interested in exploring how the climate differed throughout our region, we found e-mail pals at a school in another part of the state and brainstormed a weather-related growing project," reports Lostant, IL, teacher Jean Smith.

Her students decided to plant the same species of daffodil in containers outdoors in late fall, then keep track of weather data at both sites. If they were to track the effect of weather/climate, the kids reasoned, they would have to keep other factors, like the depth they buried the pots in the soil, the same.

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Last updated on 04/24/2014
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