Early Childhood

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.

Turn on Learning With Bulbs

"A bulb is a promise," Wendy Sherman tells her pre-schoolers in Sudbury, MA. "You can do your part to provide certain basic conditions for them, and then you have to hope that nature comes through with the rest." These marvelous packages, each containing a complete miniature plant and its lunch, can provide a captivating theme for exploring plant growth and adaptations, using math skills, and enriching history, while brightening winter classrooms with the promise of spring.

Thematic Gardens

School gardens can take a variety of shapes and sizes. These barrels are placed outside each classroom and can easily complement lessons.An ordinary mixed vegetable, flower, and herb garden provides endless possibilities for explorations across the curriculum. Many schools have also chosen to create special thematic gardens to focus and inspire garden adventures. Consider the possibilities of a Native American garden, for instance, for making connections to social studies and beyond.

Reaping Rewards

How Gardens Grow Kids

"When my kindergarten students move on to new classes, their teachers are surprised and delighted that the kids have such great skills and content knowledge," reports Carmel, CA, teacher Sarah Coburn.

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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.

 

Copyright © 1999-2014 National Gardening Association     |     www.kidsgardening.org & www.garden.org      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 09/02/2014
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