Garden Tales

Growing Literature Connections

"Whenever I plan to introduce a new garden-based science unit to my bilingual third graders, I look for stories relating to the topic," explains Salinas, Ca, teacher Artemis Ledesma.

"Before sharing these stories, I have students create a chart detailing what they know, and what they would like to know, about the topic," she adds. "I then choose a book that builds on that prior knowledge, providing background information and prompting further thinking and discussion."

School Greenhouse Guide

Opening New Worlds of Growing Experiences

Introducing greenhouse gardening into the classroom enriches the curriculum

[img_assist|nid=13778|title="Through this project-based curriculum, I have seen kids begin to realize that a plant is a living thing and that what they do to that plant on a day-to-day basis matters," shares Sandy May-Fitzgerald, a special education biology teacher.

Presenting Peanuts

So, you've raised an herb or salad garden -- experienced the excitement of growing lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers to maturity right in your classroom. What's next? Have you considered peanuts? Although they have a fairly long growing season -- approximately 5 months -- a few humble peanut plants indoors can provide a backdrop for studying history, geography, nutrition and more.

Plants and Soil: The Nutrition Connection

Students sometimes believe that plants get their "food" from the soil. Scientists, meanwhile, understand that plants manufacture their own food -- simple sugars -- using energy from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide from the air.

The Soil/Water Equation

Soil and water have a dynamic and important relationship. Different-sized soil particles create air spaces that can hold air or water. When rain falls, water and dissolved nutrients fill the soil spaces and become available to plant roots.

Soil Sleuths

The following time-honored activities can provide springboards for engaging students in exploring soils and how they "act."

Sorting Out Soil

"When I asked my second through fifth graders what soil was, they concurred that it was just made of dirt," reports St. Louis, MO, teacher Brenda Kukay. "But after dissecting and inspecting soils from different contexts, then trying to create some from scratch, they were surprised at its life and complexity, and began to appreciate it as something valuable," she adds.

Biosphere in a Bottle

What insights can a jar full of mud and water give us about life on planet Earth? Can an ecosystem within a jar teach us about the Earth's biosphere? Consider inviting your students to set up windowsill or GrowLab investigations to explore these questions.

Growing an Edible-Flower Planter

There's something about the idea of eating flowers that captures the curiosity of children, and they can easily grow their own little garden of edible flowers in a large planter. They might even be tempted to eat salads topped with their own fresh-picked blossoms.

You'll need:

Herbs Across the Curriculum

With their rich historical backstories and uses, herbs can inspire cross-disciplinary activities for school gardeners. Some examples follow:

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Last updated on 04/24/2014
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