Sunday, April 22, 2012

Little seeds in the classroom..

We are going to do a bit of gardening in April and May, learning about seeds, plants, parts of plants etc.. And of course, I will try to apply the theme to many areas of our curriculum.

First, I got brilliant play dough mats from Pre-K which will help the children associate quantities with written symbols: each mat has a number written on the  righ top corner and the children have to create play dough carots accordingly. It is so simply but the children will love it as they have never had to use play dough for mats before. I have taken any picture, I'm sorry! But basically,  this activity mix development of fine motor skills and maths.

Play Dough Mat Rabbit
Picture from

At circle time, I read  this book to the children:

From Seed to Plant (Rookie Read-About Science)

I just love this book (and the entire series "Rookie Read About" by Allan Fowler. The explanations are thoughful and simple and the pictures are brilliant!! It gives the right information and help the children build on vocabulary too. The book focuses on the parts of plant including pistils, stamen, petals, pollen etc... And it also covers how a seed is transported.  To complement the book, I have also read the following book to the kids:

It is a bit more complicated but the children love the colourful illustrations.

To go with our study of plants and seeds I put together a matching game that I saw once on a blog (sorry, I forgot which one!!! My apologies). I meant to have this exercise ready last year but i never got around to it and was quite annoyed with myself to be honest! This is quite simple but it took me a little bit of time to create it. I simply bought 2 identical packets of seed and used them to make 3-part cards. The children have to match the picture of the packet and the seeds.   As my laminator would not allow me to laminate the seeds, I had to glue the seeds on a laminated sheet. I don't know if my description is very clear but have a look at the photos below:

Like each year, we are going to start planting. This is the best lesson for the children as they can see physically see what they are learning. I usually have the children planting a seed in a glass jar. This allows them to watch their seed grow into a little plant. I know a glass jar is not an ideal solution if children want to replant their plant sunflower or  runner beans) anywhere in their garden. So this year I will let them use these organic recycable containers. You simply can plant them directly in the ground and they will dissolve on their own.

But I still want the chilren to be able to witness the miracle of life and this is why I have decided to try something a bit different. I got a plastic glove and fit a wet cotton ball in each fingertip. I then added a courgette bean in the thumb, carrot seeds in the index, lettuce seeds in the middle fingers, turnip seeds and a runner bean in the other 2 fingers. This is a new experiment and I hope this will work. If it does, the children will be able to observe how quickly (or how slowly) seeds sprout and grow and how they change during the growing process. In addition, it teaches children that plants need water, sunlight and a growing medium to survive. This is not rocket science and many other teachers use this method to teach the children about plants.

And once the children have observed sprouting, I want them to be able to see what plants looks like as they grow a bit more each day. So not only will they observe the runner beans they have planted (and bring them home later on) but they will also be able to observe what happen with the lettuce and carrot seeds I have planted in 2 plastic bottles. They should be able to see the roots at first and they watch the vegetables grow. I have improvised a little green house system by replacing the top of the cut plastic bottle on top of the containers. See for yourself.. Fingers crossed, everything will grow according to plan.. I don't really have green fingers, I must say..
I have cello taped a picture of the vegetables on the side of the bottles for the children to know what they are looking at.

I am not a great gardener but I am organised!! And to make sure the children DO see something and learn, I have also prepared a little experiment. I soaked peas overnight. I rolled some newspaper and placed it in a long glass. I poured some sand inside the newspaper and wet it a bit. The sand soaked up the water leaving the newspaper quite damp. I then took my peas and placed them between the newspaper and the glass for us to observe the sprouting process. Once the peas are well sprouted, we will transfer them into bigger containers and let them grow before planting them outside in the preschool garden patch.

There are a few more things we will do over the next 2 weeks but I will keep you posted each time. You can look at what we did last year right here and here and here.

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