Gardening in the Classroom

Spring will make its appearance here in New England soon.  We are all ready for some sunshine and warmer weather.  This is the perfect time to add a new addition to your classroom -– a garden! Gardening is a great way to connect students to nature and teach them about responsibility.

Here are some tips some tips to get started:

What if I don’t have much space, even indoors?

Consider two options.  One, start small.  Several students can share one plant to care for and observe.  Second, put the garden on a cart.  As long as the cart is moved to a place the sun hits for parts of the day, the plants will grow.  You can move the cart out of the way as needed, or share the mobil garden with other classrooms.

What flowers and edibles grow best indoors?

Those that don’t take up a lot of space (have small root systems)!  Edibles such herbs, lettuce / greens, and peppers thrive indoors.  Flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, and petunias do as well and will brighten up the room.

 

Where do I get funding?

Put an announcement in the school’s newsletter to see if any families have connections that can help you get reduced prices on garden supplies.  Also, almost any container can serve as a plant pot.  Ask students to bring in milk cartons or old bowls and containers from home.  Call larger companies who distribute seeds; many offer discounts to schools. 

If you are looking to start a bigger project, there are grants available.  Visit the 2016 Youth Garden Grant Page and Slow Foods USA for more information.

How can I incorporate a garden into my curriculum?

Gardening makes perfect connections to STEM learning:

·      Math – Students can measure and record data regarding how much water they give the plant, the weather (was it sunny), and the height of the plant.  After several weeks they can analyze it and look for correlations between water and sunlight to growth rates.

·      Engineering – Allow students to get creative about with their plant holder.  Let them design their own using materials provided by the teacher or things they bring from home (like a shoe).  After the plants have had time to grow, they can compare growth and report any changes they might make to their design for the future.

·      Science – This lesson is an engaging, hands-on way to teach some life science standards, such as

NGSS:4-LS1-1.  Construct an argument that plants have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior and reproduction.

MA:5-LS1-1. Ask testable questions about the process by which plants use air, water, and energy from the sunlight to produce sugars and plant materials needed for growth and reproduction.

Resources

http://articles.extension.org/pages/73537/a-guide-to-gardening-in-the-classroom