Early Childhood

Earth Day/Mothers' Day Treelings

Earth Day and Mothers' Day became a special combined focus last spring for the preschoolers in Wendy Sherman's Sudbury, MA, class. On Earth Day (April 22), students carefully collected small 4-inch oak, white pine, and maple seedlings from the woods and fields around the school. After very gently washing the roots, students were able to examine and compare the different seedlings.

Herbal Adventures

Herbs...the green flecks in spaghetti sauce, the soothing late night teas, the dried mixtures that keep the bathroom air fresh. But did you know that many prescription medicines contain drugs derived from natural herbs? Or that many perfumes and other fragrances are made from the oils in herbs? Herbs have been used for at least 5,000 years by all cultures for cooking, medicine, crafts, and cosmetics. Many herbs are easy to raise in the classroom.

Seeds in Fall: Collect 'em All

Wildflowers like goldenrods, field asters and sunflowers produce lots of seed in fall and are very easy to grow in spring. (image by Jessie Keith)Growing plants from seeds pictured on bright packets is great fun, but have you considered the potential for excitement and discovery in collecting and planting unknown treasures from the meadows, overgrown lots, or woods in your school environment?

Wasteful Lessons

Delving into Decomposition

"It was a terrific example of an accident that turned into a teachable moment," reports Minneapolis, MN, teacher Joanne Taft. "That's how my third and fourth graders learned about composting." When Joanne's students returned from a long winter break and discovered that many of their unwatered indoor plants had died, they dumped the moist soil mix and plant remains into a clear plastic bag to discard. But then they began to wonder what might happen to the materials over time so they made predictions and placed the bag in the warmth and light of a windowsill to observe.

Supporting Inquiry -- Beyond the Scientific Method

So, you've sparked students' curiosity and questions about plants. Now, how do you guide and support them to think and act like scientists as they design and conduct growing investigations? While the "scientific method" is a familiar framework for science investigations, science educators increasingly emphasize that the nature of science and science inquiry is much richer, broader, and more flexible than the traditional lock-step method.

Dyeing to Get Started

Colors from plants have been used throughout history to enhance people's lives -- for decorating animal skins, fabrics, crafts, hair and bodies. They've been used to distinguish serf from master and to serve as banners in war. Your classroom garden, vacant lot, school grounds, and local grocery store can provide fuel for investigating the ways in which plants have enriched and continue to color our world.

Building Community Partnerships

"By involving the local community in donating time, ideas, resources, and funds to our school garden project, we've been able to do more than we ever could have imagined doing alone," reports middle school teacher Joan Dungey of Yellow Springs, OH. The students and teachers who wanted to launch the gardening project first invited interested community members to join them in developing short- and long-term goals for it, then to create an action plan for moving forward.

Butterfly Gardening

Welcoming butterflies and caterpillars to your school garden

Growing plants that attract butterflies is a sure-fire way of engaging children in the school garden, and it invites discoveries about pollination, insect life cycles, and the interdependence of insects and plants. The first step is understanding the different stages the butterfly life cycle.

Cultivating Inquirers

Watching pollination first hand is bound to draw inquiry out of your school gardeners."There's no question that teachers and students are equally fascinated when they have ample time to observe and investigate flowers and their pollinating partners," reports Lisa Wagner, education coordinator at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

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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.

 

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Last updated on 10/31/2014
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