Carolina Biological OSE - July 2024


Forums / Elementary Science / Gardening in the Classroom

Elementary Science

Gardening in the Classroom

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Meghan McGinty Meghan McGinty 1430 Points

Recently we watched The Lorax in my observation classroom. Immediately after the students went to recess and began looking for seeds and wanted to plant them. The students found acorns and "planted" them in the sandbox and watered them. I want to feed off the students sudden interest in seeds and growing plants. Have you done a class garden? If so, how did you facilitate it and do you think the students enjoyed it? Thanks for your advice!

Elizabeth Llanas Elizabeth Llanas 655 Points

There are several ways to go about this. You could potentially have a small area in your outdoor/recess area or you could have a bin inside where each student can plant his/her plant of their choice. Maybe you can even have both! Here are some ideas I found:

Amanda Firenza Amanda Firenza 735 Points

I think that would be an awesome class activity. I have seen students in a science class have their own little plant in a cup that they keep by the window. The students began to get into the routine of checking their plants in the morning and watering them. They would draw the progress of their little plants in their science journal every other day. They really enjoyed having their own to watch and observe. 

Whitney Pomeroy Whitney Pomeroy 615 Points

Hi there! I can relate to your experience, because whenever I watch/read The Lorax with my kids, we want to plant things too! I think to start, it would be necessary to know the students age or grade level. A great introductory activity for any age (simple, quick, fun, encouraging) is to grow beans in a baggie in the classroom window, and follow their growth in classroom notebooks with drawings or descriptions. Older elementary students would do great with an outdoor, larger garden, as it requires more time, resources, and dedication. Forethought is also good with a project like this, as often those who begin the project won't be able to see it through the next season, so it is nice if there are multiple teachers/classes on board. Good luck in your future gardening endeavors :)

Alexis Martinez Alexis Martinez 2970 Points

Hello there, I'm not a teacher yet, but as a student studying to become one, I am definitely going to note this down and remember it for when I do have my own class! This is an awesome idea, and a great way to get students to learn as well as learn responsibility and so much more! I hope this worked out well for you and your class!

Leonela Chiriboga Leonela Chiriboga 3330 Points

Hello! I was actually working at an elementary school where the students learned about planting seeds, and how important it is to have your own garden and be responsible. The students loved working with the garden outside of the classroom because they were able to see the seeds they planted grow and blossom. We always set time apart once a week to go see the garden and take observational notes on the differences from the week before. The students were all assigned a job when going to our garden, and the jobs were always alternated between the students so that at the end of the lesson, everyone was able to do almost every job. The students were always looking forward to this activity and always wanted to see what happened to their seeds. This activity sparked their interest in plants and seeds, and the students would go home and even do their own research on growing plants!

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points

There is a  thread in the Early Childhood Forum on the topic of gardening with kids. You might find some suggestions there!

Tiffany Jones Tiffany Jones 855 Points

In my district we do a program called Veggie U in third grade. We grow a garden in the classroom with grow lights and then harvest or veggies for a tasting party at the end. My students love it every year. They learn about what plants need, how to start plants from seeds, and how seeds grow. This is one of my favorite units and I highly suggest gardening in the classroom. My students also take care of house plants in our classroom all year. :)

Jessica Mulet Jessica Mulet 2870 Points

I believe that gardening in the classroom or even the school is a great idea for children. As you said, they are very interested in the topic. They love the idea of watching grow over time and seeing the changes. Students can learn a lot from this process. You can incorporate lessons about plant parts and their jobs such as making the food for the plant. Something else to consider is planting vegetables. I am currently in a school that has a vegetable garden which is neat. It is located in the center of the school and all the students can see it as they are walking through the hallway. 

Hannah Endicott Hannah Endicott 565 Points

I am currently in a Kindergarten classroom and we have planted some garden beans in clear plastic cups. I know that we have ordered a more high tech looking case through scholastic that helps the students see what the roots look like, etc. I know that my school also has a set garden area, but that other schools will let the students plant things and keep them outside. 

Shannon Lopes Shannon Lopes 1850 Points

I love the idea of doing the garden in plastic cups. It's a good alternative for schools that don't have as much funding. Both my mom and my sister are teachers and I know how much of their own personal money goes into planning and doing activities for their students. As a future teacher I am always looking for fun diy's that can be done with the students, without breaking my budget. Many schools do plant outside but you would need permission for that since it's on school property. I've also seen them plant seeds in ziplock bags and hang them in the windows with suction cups.

There are so many possibilities for this! I'd check out the Early Years Blog on NSTA, I know that Peggy Ashbrook has written about gardening with kids. I have a friend who has been very successful gardening with little ones using the book: Early Sprouts. I've gardened at school with 2nd graders in a separate school garden, growing pumpkins and sunflowers. You might try a theme garden, I just wrote about taco and pizza gardens on my blog: Also, I am part of a very active and knowledgable "Gardening with Kids" group on Facebook. I am happy to send you the link to request an invite if you e-mail me at [email protected]

Krystal Andreu Krystal Andreu 2285 Points

     While I do not have a class garden, I have seen schools create outdoor vegetable and butterfly gardens. Creating a garden would be a great hands-on activity for the students. It will make them have responsibility, it lets them see first hand the work that goes into growing plants, and it will make them feel good about caring for the environment. You can use this to also teach your students about environmental stewardship. 

Jaclyn Abbott Jaclyn Abbott 565 Points

I agree with some of the others who have responded to your post- it's definitely a way to get them involved.  I've worked with students who were responsible for their own seeds (i.e. taking them home and watering them), but in my opinion, it’s probably better to keep this part in the classroom as they are still very young students.  A lot of kids will have the intention of taking care of their seed/seedling, but it gets lost at home or destroyed in their backpack to and from school.  You can still have them store the seedlings in their desk until it is time to plant them!

After that, it’s really up to you.  You could do those long window planters and just label each student’s plant, or you could have students plant them individually in their own cups/pots.  Another poster suggested having each student choose their own type of plant they’d like to grow- great idea!  It might be easier for you to just get a bulk of them though.  There are so many ways you could take this, but they’re already independently interested, so I’d go with it!

Sheprell Felder Sheprell Felder 315 Points

I think gardening in the classroom is a great activity for students, especially for the elementary students. In my college science classroom, we planted lima beans in a lunch bag and watch them grow over a two weeks time before we actually planted. It was a really nice experiment watching the lima beans grow in the plastic bag. We had to make observations in our journal on the color and the changes of the lima beans every three days. When we all brought our lima beans back in the classroom to put them in the soil, it was exciting to see how all the students had the same or different results with their lima beans and became a learning experience for everyone in the class on growing lima beans.

Rebecca Hackim Rebecca Hackim 635 Points

Even though I do not have a class garden, I have seen schools that have outdoor gardens like a butterfly garden. Making a garden with the students is a fun hands on activity. Having the students make a garden is a good learning opportunity because students could help maintain it. This also helps them see how plants grow seeing it first hand.

Francesca Mandriotti Francesca Mandriotti 5260 Points

The Lorax is a remarkable movie that promotes preserving natural resources. I actually recently watched The Lorax in one of my classes and had a very similar reaction as the students you observed. I believe it's great that you want to keep their drive and interest in the topic! I know of two ways that you can incorporate planting seeds. One way is having the students individually plant a seed in a small pot and watch it grown. Another is having the class plant seeds together outside the school and make a small classroom garden. Regardless, you can even teach a lesson on it; a lesson on the growth of a plant in a fun manner. Hope this helps!

Delilah Venegas Delilah Venegas 425 Points

Scott Williams Scott Williams 490 Points

I really like this idea and I am currently in the process of designing a lesson plan where the students will be both building their garden boxes and planting various types of vegetables in those boxes. The goal of this project is to show how students who live in metropolitan areas can still grow their own gardens despite limited space. The boxes we will be designing will be able to be removed and replaced in the classroom windows. There is also a history lesson which could be tied into this lesson plan, which is the push for "Victory Gardens" during WWII.

Corina Chen Xusha (Corina) Chen 555 Points

Hi, One easy way to involve seeds and planting/gardening in the classroom is getting some seeds or beans and placing them in a ziplock bag or "greenhouse". You can please a damp/slightly moisten paper towel in there along with maybe some soil if you want or if needed. This is a fun and easy activity for elementary school students! You could also have them place the growing plant and transfer them into a pot when they start forming roots/budding. Also, it would be a good idea to have them document/record their plant's life cycle and the steps they had to do during this process. Later on, you could either keep the potted plants in the classroom by the window, have them take it home, or plant it somewhere on school grounds.

Julie Lim Julie Lim 555 Points

Hi! I think doing a classroom gardening is a wonderful idea! In our class we recently learned about a green project and how we can show this in schools. Having a garden in the classroom will be also good for the classroom environment and students may feel responsible trying to keep up with the plants. I would recommend students to develop their own ideas and usage for the garden. Also, students can collect different sets of data like seeing if there are less dusts due to plants or even think further by coming up with ideas on what they could do with the plants (creative thinking). This could be also good introduction for your environment and how students should be more aware of the environmental life. I would recommend this site:

Cynthia Garcia Cynthia Garcia 2745 Points

I absolutely love this idea! Thank you so much for sharing this. I look forward to using this with my class.

Alyson Whitmore Alyson Whitmore 555 Points

That's so awesome that your students are interested! You could combine gardening with recycling. Have every student bring in an egg carton, and fill the cups with soil. Have them plant millet or another quickly sprouting seed. Students will water and care for their egg carton garden, and will be shocked by how quickly their seeds grow. Best of luck!

Georgina Pozzoli Georgina Pozzoli 2670 Points

Hello, I really like how you want to feed off the idea to incorporate it into something new. When I was in school I remember having our own classroom garden. The teacher assigned us each seeds, we planted them in small pots and had a designated area in the school that we placed them. Someone had constructed a big wooden box that we would all place our pots into. Once a day, usually before lunch my teacher would take us so we could water our plant and observe how it is growing. Once a week we would also measure the growth of the plant and compare it with other students.

Alexis Martinez Alexis Martinez 2970 Points

Summer Franco Summer Cortez 875 Points

I love all the ideas on this posting. When i was in elementary, we each grew a little plant in a little Styrofoam cup. We watered and checked on our plant daily and got to take it home after it grew. I have also seen where CD cases are repurposed and a plant is grown in that. It's really neat because the students will be able to see the dirt, roots, and plant through the cd case and can label or draw on the outside of the CD case. Directions can probably be found online somewhere.

Kimi Cyphert Kimi Cyphert 190 Points

I did this in my elementary class as well! Such a memorable activity!! I will for sure incorporate it into my classroom.

Tessa Sharafat Tessa Sharafat 1175 Points

I would like to have a class garden when I become a teacher. I like all of the ideas on the post. A friend of mine introduced me to square foot gardening over the summer. The planting method is so much cleaner than digging up the ground because it is built in a square framework. The garden is then sectioned off. This method can integrate math as well by introducing area and basic geometry concepts. We grew lima beans in ziploc bags with cotton balls to hold the moisture. We left the bags at the science table for the students to observe after the plants had begun to grow. Unfortunately, there are no windows in our classroom, so the plants had to be started at home first.

Cody Ollre Cody Ollre 655 Points

WOW! I think that this is a great idea. I think that I will try doing this as well. It will give the students something to work on and maybe help with more than just their science knowledge. It could potentially be used as a way to guide student behavior!

Katie Rembold Katie Rembold 190 Points

A totally great idea! I remember growing up and always loving my teachers showing us plant life cycles and then giving us the opportunity to bring our own plants to life. This could be really fun for students to get opportunities to work with their hands on their planting as well as giving them a chance to see a real plant that they are working with, come to life and grow.

Shannen Hulsey Shannen Hulsey 170 Points

I love this idea! I have seen a lot of teachers use gardening in the classroom as an opportunity to grow students knowledge of plant life and plant growth as long as get hands on experience working in and managing a classroom garden! I think that allowing the students to pick what is grown in the garden and implementing language arts into it by having the students keep a journal of the plants growth is a great idea!

Ashley Banegas Ashley Banegas 2920 Points

Hello! I am a current and a final year Bachelor's Degree student in Elementary Education and I found your forum post very interesting. From a student's view point when it comes to gardening, I have had a couple of student activities that I have done where my previous teachers would involve planting/gardening. When I was in elementary school, my teacher did not make us a garden inside of the classroom, instead she made each student plant their own plant inside of a styrofoam cup and cotton balls. We watched them grow and documented the plant growth in our science journals. They would stay inside of the classroom by the window where they received sunlight. I was also in Future Educators of America (FEA) where I noticed one of our sponsors (who was also a teacher) did in fact have an indoor garden inside of her classroom. From what I remember, she had a small rectangle in the back of the classroom filled with dirt and contained several seeds (some were already showing signs of growth). Instead of using actual sunlight, she used a specific type of lamp that would replicate the suns rays. They would be cared for regularly giving students a chance on observing them as well. I plan on having a garden inside of my future classroom when I begin teaching (if I were to receive the permission on doing so from the school), bringing plant life inside of the classroom is very natural and educational! Ashley Banegas Florida International University Miami, FL.

Alexandra and Liza . Alexandra and Liza 300 Points

When I was student teaching this past spring this elementary has a science classroom, and right outside was a big open space so with each grade level they planted different flowers right outside the classroom. The science teacher even built a pond so they can observe fish and frogs. Having the different grade levels choose a different plant really encouraged the students to be involved and connect with nature.

Wendi Laurence Wendi Laurence 1510 Points

Hello, We have a school garden but we also garden in the classroom. Cat grass is the easiest to grow in little cups....the kids love making faces on the cups and cutting the grass. I keep living soil columns as well. There are some great lessons and probes in Page Keeley's books about predicting how plants will grow (my kiddos draw the growth on charts behind the plant). One tip -- if you have plants in the classroom see if they can survive cold. We turn our heat very very low in the winter over break and plants don't make it. There are several kits for growing seeds in side and lights, etc. Some of the gardening seed catalogs are the best place to start! Good luck -- let us know what you decide to try!

Wendi Laurence Wendi Laurence 1510 Points

I forgot -- one of my favorite activities is seed socks. or

Brenda Toledo Brenda Toledo 2305 Points

Hi! I think this is a great idea. You could do so much with gardening and the students really enjoy it. I think it all depends on the space you have available. You can either section off a space outside in the school or use a bin to do it indoors. I remember when I was elementary my teacher gave us lima beans and pinto beans and we would wrap it with wet paper and press it against the walls of a clear plastic cup and we would just watch it grow. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I think even if you don't have a place to garden outdoor, you could still come up with really neat ideas that portray the same concept for the students.

Whitnie Hutchinson Whitnie Hutchinson 4598 Points

Hello there! I am currently in my Senior year at UNI and I have found that when teaching science in the Elementary the student thrive off of hands on activities. As a students myself I am a very hands on visual learner. I have also found this to be true with my students. I would highly encourage a garden for your classroom as it will teach not only science skills but as well as life skills such as patience. I have noticed that with my daycare kiddos this is something that the students look forward to waiting on and draws their attention. I wish you the best!

Lindsay Harley Lindsay Harley 210 Points

I love this idea and will definitely use in my classroom! Thank you for sharing!

Ryan Martin Ryan 10 Points

So much great ideas. Thanks for sharing.


Emma Butterbaugh Emma Butterbaugh 310 Points

Hello! I enjoyed hearing about the excitement your students experienced about planting and growing seeds! In my field placement last year, I was in a second-grade classroom. Each student was given one corn seed and one pea seed to plant and keep in the back of the classroom by the window. Along with each student planting one of each, the teacher also planted one set of each to keep in a closet (receiving water, but no sun), one set to keep in a closet (receiving no water and no sun), one set to keep with the rest of the class (receiving no water), and one set to keep with the rest of the class (receiving both water and sun). Each day for science, students would be asked to record observations and the amount of growth of their plants. As a class, we would also discuss what was noticed about the sets with different variables. It brought me so much joy to see how excited students were to look at their plants. Although science was not until later in the day, students would come in the morning and go straight to their plant to see if it had grown while they were gone! Good luck with your placement! I hope it goes well!

Alaina Collins Alaina Collins 140 Points

Hello! I am a student studying to become a teacher and this sounds like a wonderful idea! We planted sunflower seeds in one of my previous field placements and noted their growth changes weekly. The students loved seeing the flower begin to sprout.

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