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Gardening at school with young children

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Peggy Ashbrook Peggy Ashbrook 9920 Points

Some of us are struggling to keep a school garden from perishing over the summer, others are planning for gardening with a new class in the fall. Gail Laubenthal, retired teacher (43 years), writes about her extensive school gardening experience on The Early Years blog. Gail currently serves as an Educational Consultant, mentoring Early Childhood teachers in Austin ISD and Grand Prairie ISD. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at NSTA, NAEYC, TAEYC, and other state and local conferences and district events.
One of my preschools has moved to a new location and I'm wondering if I should start a small garden right away, or wait until spring when things have settled down a bit.
Suggestions?

Lydia Cotton Lydia Cotton 2340 Points

I think that either idea would be a great experience for the students. When I was in elementary school, I never had the opportunity to have a class garden and so it is one thing that I want to implement as I first year teacher!!

Corryn Santana Corryn Santana 2595 Points

I think starting a small garden with a few plants or vegetables would be a great start. I am very much interested in starting a garden with the group of students I work with, but I too am having a hard time determining when the best time of year would be!

Cinthia Rodriguez Cinthia Rodriguez 4505 Points

This will be a great idea to do during the spring time, and maybe even finding out if the school has an area where students could plant seeds and record their observations in a journal.

Marion Harvey Marion Harvey 1010 Points

It really depends on where you live. In a temperate climate, I would say start the garden as soon as possible! Students love being able to have a thriving garden throughout the year!

Tyler Benson Tyler Benson 2815 Points

Does anyone have thoughts on worm farms? Topic is similar to gardening.

Makenzie Smith Makenzie Smith 1185 Points

Gardening is a great activity to do with your students. I definitely urge you to get a garden started with your students. I had a teacher in elementary school that had our class create a garden and it was one of the best experiences I had. It did way more than just teach me about nature, it instilled in me responsibility and confidence. I am not the right person to tell you at what point in the year to create your classroom garden, but I do encourage you to do so! 

Lauren Lundeberg Lauren Lundeberg 1235 Points

It is such an amazing experience for students to be able to take part in a garden! I did a service project with my preschoolers while I was in high school and it involved creating a garden. The preschoolers were a part of the entire process. They dug, planted, watered, everything! It became a part of their daily routine, to have 2 children each day water the garden. They grew things such as strawberries and tomatoes, which they were able to eat, and they were a huge hit! I think that you should begin your garden right away as opposed to waiting. That way, it becomes a part of the students' day and routine. Thanks for sharing! ~Lauren Lundeberg

Dexter Valley Dexter Valley 50 Points

I think it would be greate idea to start as soon as possible so that students can witness the life cycle of the plants that you and your class plant throughout the school year and to also make hypothesis on how certain plants react to certain climates. Overall it would be a great activity to do with your class and the garden could be used for many lessons throughout the year.

Ellis Millard Ellis Millard 200 Points

I think a garden is a great idea! I love hands on activities that the students can participate in and learn from! When I begin teaching I hope to have a small garden outside or potted plants inside the classroom for my students to learn from. They can make observations and see what they learn from the book come to life!

Rikki Zink Rikki Zink 190 Points

I work at a preschool in Fayetteville, Arkansas we started a school garden at the beginning of March last year so students could experience the more optimal conditions for our garden to grow, and then watch it throughout the summer. I'd suggest starting in the Spring!

Libby Colston Libby Colston 180 Points

I think either option would do well, depending on the weather in your particular location. I love the idea of having a school garden for kids to be involved with. How do you decide what to plant or how large of a garden your students can support?

Lindsey Zhang Lindsey Zhang 1175 Points

I would start a garden as soon as school starts. It gives you an opportunity to show students how gardens grow year round. As there are different seasons in which each type of plant thrives a teacher could show students how to create and maintain a garden. I love the idea of getting students involved in gardening. It is a great way to have students in a great hands-on experience.

Kaitlyn Nicholson Kaitlyn Nicholson 5605 Points

Peggy, I find that having a school garden is important for students to help them learn about the life cycles of plants and the processes of life, death and growth. I never had the opportunity to have a garden in elementary school and I feel that I would have gained a better understanding of plants at an earlier age. I think you should start the garden right away even if you live in a colder place. You will be able to show the students the complete cycle of life, growth and death if you live in a colder place. I think it would be a very fun and interactive way to start off the year with your students.

Claudia Penaranda Claudia Penaranda 950 Points

I think it would better if you just wait until spring, because you will have your classroom set.

Shannyn Quirante Shannyn Quirante 805 Points

Gardening would be a great way for the students to be engaged and learn about plants. I think starting with an small garden inside the classroom be a good idea that way students can see the plants grow everyday without having to go outside. It also may be beneficial because the weather may be warmer inside than outside, so the indoor plants may survive longer. This is a wonderful idea and I will definitely use this in my classroom!

LaShonda Johnson LaShonda Johnson 6145 Points

I think you should start a garden right away to get the kids being hand-on's. I truly love your idea of planting a garden because when I was younger I didn't have the opportunity to do so. I actually may consider planting a garden when I become a teacher.

Carole Moreno Carole Moreno 8288 Points

The sooner the better so the students will see the life cycle of the plant. A garden is such an awesome learning experience for the students as well as responsibility to take care of it. Good luck! We love our garden and outdoor classroom.

Shawn Clark Shawn Clark 230 Points

My sons 1st grade class grew a garden and it was such an awesome experience for him. Not only did they grow a garden but the teacher put together some simple recipes for them to follow and they made lunch for the class using some of the things that they grew.

Jessica Philipp Jessica Philipp 5479 Points

I think getting a garden started early would be a great way to introduce students to plants earlier. I would say if you got the resources to start a small garden in the fall and be able to transport the plants outside when spring time comes then do it. Students will be able to see how the tiny seeds turn into blooming plants when spring comes. I have seen elementary schools do gardens in the school yard and think it would be a great lesson to teach. Just imagine if the students were able to watch the seed sprout, care for it in the winter, then watch them flourish in the garden at spring time. How amazing would that be!

Ling Xu Ling Xu 6458 Points

I think it is a great idea to gardening at school. I visited some elementary schools in China. The plants in the gardening benefit a lot. For example,the teacher could leas his children to the garden and distinguish different kinds of plants. I also saw some students would pick the plants and cook the plants for their own meals. It not only save the money for elementary schools to buy food to eat, students can also learn from the garden. I love the idea!

Olivia Meincke Olivia Meincke 3754 Points

When I was in school we were able to grow out own little plants in tiny pots and it was one of my greatest memories of elementary. I think making a garden for your preschoolers would be such a good experience. Even if you can't make a large one, a small indoor garden or classroom plant would be a nice. As the winter approaches the changing plants could be a good lesson so I say start your garden now and grow something amazing!

Davlyn Rodriguez Davlyn Rodriguez 195 Points

I like the idea of gardening for the younger grade levels so that the students are aware of plants and how they grow. Why can't you do both season? Students can compare and contrast both seasons and plants.

Laura Rosales Laura Rosales 290 Points

Either option is very good for the development of the children. You can look at the pros from both choices: if you plant a garden when it isn't time, this allows students to know that there are specific seasons for certain vegetables and flowers and that they have to have this knowledge when they want to grow their own garden. If you choose to plant it during the spring then this will help them to see the way a plant grows.

Laura Rosales Laura Rosales 290 Points

Either option is very good for the development of the children. You can look at the pros from both choices: if you plant a garden when it isn't time, this allows students to know that there are specific seasons for certain vegetables and flowers and that they have to have this knowledge when they want to grow their own garden. If you choose to plant it during the spring then this will help them to see the way a plant grows.

Jocelyn Billings Jocelyn Billings 535 Points

Thank you for attaching the link to her gardening experience! I am doing a unit on gardening so I found this very helpful.

Karina Hernandez Karina Hernandez 2405 Points

I am a student who is currently earning my bachelors degree in elementary education. Science is the subject that I love most and makes me eager to want to become a teacher as quickly as possible. One of the things I look forward to doing is starting a garden with my future classes. I believe that if you wait until the spring the students might not be able to see the garden "completed". Starting a garden right away, although it may be small at first, will give them the opportunity to be able to understand and see the process that a seed goes through. Starting a garden early on will allow for these children to begin making relations that living things need basic needs such as water, sun and etc. Building a garden is a FANTASTIC idea.

Pamela Perozo Pamela Perozo 2913 Points

Peggy, I think you should do it in the spring considering that they have moved into a new location, meaning give it some time for them to settle in to their new environment. Regardless, doing it during the spring time will help the plants grow at a faster pace than any other season as during the spring, it isn't raining too much or it isn't too hot like the summer. I honestly find the gardening idea to be fascinating to both the students and the instructors as it shows students what living things like flowers, need in order to survive. Pamela

Glory Scollon Glory Scollon 3130 Points

Peggy, I think you should start your small garden as soon as possible! I've observed the way students react to gardening and I think its great addition to any classroom! Im 22 years old and it still shocks me how quickly seeds grow, its an exciting way to get students to think about nature as early as Pre-K!

Desiree Capuchino Desiree Capuchino 440 Points

Hello Mrs. Ashbrook, I think that having a garden for the students to tend to is a great idea! I was never grated the opportunity to do such a thing. I think waiting for the spring would be best. Until then I would get everything prepared for such event. Getting the seeds ready, picking the location. Garden seems like a great way to teach students about Earth and how important it is to take care of it.

Kerissa Weinstein Kerissa Weinstein 470 Points

I think when the time is right you will know. If starting a garden right away seems too hectic just remember there is no problem with starting it in the springtime. I think your idea of starting a garden is a really great idea though! It teaches these young children about their community, different fruits and veggies, how to properly take care of the garden, how climate can affect their garden, and so much more. There are so many learning opportunities in this building of a garden. I have recently watched a first grade classroom start a garden and they were so excited to do so and they were so excited for the learning opportunities embedded within the project. Whenever you decide to start the garden will be just the right time.

Vanessa Rodriguez Vanessa Rodriguez 250 Points

This will be a great idea to do during the spring time, and maybe you can ask the school if your class can plant around the campus and make observation notebook based on how their plants are growing, and have also a visual picture drawn by them of every Friday since the day the planted the plant. This would be such an amazing for students and their reaction will be priceless.

Erika Salazar Erika Salazar 30 Points

Hello Peggy! I think both ideas are great. Me personally, I would start a garden right away just because students will have more time to see the garden grow with time. Gardens and plants always attract students attention for how they change in shape and color etc. Best of luck!

Alan Alanis Alan Alanis 380 Points

I think a good start would be to do in since the beginning of class. It gives you an opportunity to show students how gardens grow year round. You can also show the different seasons and in which each type of plant thrives. The idea of getting students involved in gardening is a very creative it is a great way to have students in a great hands-on experience.

Tracy Galle Tracy Galle 660 Points

Peggy, if you have the opportunity to start the garden right away you should do it. This could be a great opportunity for you to create a space that is inviting for the new students to go and learn. Furthermore, it could help you all create a bond with the new school that does not exist currently. It can be looked at as an opportunity to create history at a place where none currently exists. Furthermore, a garden area is something that all the students can participate in. They always get a great since of pride when they see the progress that the plants make, knowing that they helped create it. Creating a since of community among the students is of great importance and you can help provide that.

Ambar Fernandez Ambar Fernandez 230 Points

I think starting with a small garden is a good idea, it can be helpful for students to start understanding more about gardening and what are some of the seasonal veggies and fruits. Last semester I took a class where I learned a lot about gardening and I was using a very useful website that provides you with great ideas, and advice for gardening. This is the link to the website http://recipe4success.org/programs/seed-to-plate-nutrition-education.html

Michelle Tensing Michelle Tensing 30 Points

Hi Peggy!

I love gardening with my students.  It is a great way to help them develop a love for our Earth! I must admit I do not have the best green thumb but have always found it hard to start a garden in the spring because once things begin to grow, its summer already! I think if you can, the sooner the better.   That way the students really get to be involved in the entire process! 

Toneka Bussey Toneka Bussey 1928 Points

GM,

 

I think it would be more of an advantage to start gardening in the Spring.

Tara Lawhorn Tara Lawhorn 55 Points

I love the idea of having a garden! I suggest starting at the beginning of the year so the garden can become apart of the routine. It will be more exciting to watch it go through it's different stages of life. This can be a way to building a community in the classroom with a mutual goal. 

Sadee Koehler Sadee Koehler 2895 Points

Hi Peggy!

Currently, I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa. I am studying Early Childhood and Special Education. Recently, my mother retired from being a school teacher of 33 years. A few years back she did a garden with her students. I always thought it was a fun tool to get the students involved with a fun science project outside! To me, that is a tough question because I feel it is different for every group of students. An idea, that came to mind, was planting a seed in your classroom (near a window). If you plant your garden right away and are not able to have the students get involved right away, planting the seed in your classroom will help them see the plant grow over time! That is just an idea! I am interested in what you ended up doing! 

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

This time of year, when oak trees are dropping their fruit, the children are very interested in collecting as many of the acorns they can carry, and sorting them by size and shiny-ness. I "planted" a few that had already begun root growth, a few in a pot in soil and a few in a plastic bag set up for sprouting seeds. An early childhood teacher showed me long ago how to improve the papertowel-in-plastic bag set up by stapling a loose row of staples about 1/3 from the top. This holds the seeds (of any kind) above the reservoir of water at the bottom of the bag, reducing the chance of rotting seeds.

The roots on the bag-planted acorns have grown but those in soil have yet to show any growth above the soil. I don't expect these small tree seedlings to survive until spring--this is simply a way to observe seed sprouting.

See the Early Years blog post I wrote about acorns at: http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2018/11/03/acorns-for-fun-in-science/ 

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Natalie Witt Natalie Witt 2735 Points

I think having a small garden is such a great idea. Learning hands on what plants need to survive and thrive. Also learning where your food is coming from. I will definitely consider doing this when I get my own classroom. Thank you for sharing!

Alyssa Hawkins Alyssa Hawkins 2485 Points

Hi Peggy! As a preservice teacher, I find that hopping into creating a better environment for students allows the teacher and students to be able to grow and take on a new challenge together. This would be a great idea to bring in learning some the NGSS standards about gardening and the way plants grow and the environment that they need to survive. This could let the students become hands-on and be able to join in the participation and future of the garden. I think that waiting for things to calm down could lead to a missed opportunity for your fall lesson plans. But all teachers, know the ways of teaching their students that will be most beneficial for them. 

Amy Griffin Amy Griffin 2050 Points

Peggy, 

I think starting a garden with preschool students is a great idea! I know if I had had that in my younger years I would've loved that! I also think many kids are earger to get some dirt on their hands and this is a great way to allow that! It also gives many opportunities for lessons based on things that they might encounter during their gardening experiences! I would start as soon as possible and maybe talk about what could happen, (the plants might not grow) and why this is happening during this season and why most people start in the spring. You could also work the weather into the gardening lessons! 

Loriane Tovar Loriane Tovar 200 Points

I think it is a good idea to start a small graden right away. I feel that it will be a great way to engage children to learn about team work and work together. Implementing teamwork since the very beginning will create a friendly and trusting environment in the classroom. Also, this will teach them about the process of planting a seed, having to water it and watch it grow. Through this students can develop a sense of carefulness and hardwork. They will learn about the responsibility of having to take care and water a plant in order for it to grow and blossom. 

Elvira Ramirez Elvira Ramirez 835 Points

Hi Peggy, I think it’s a wonderful idea that you are trying to keep gardening at the school with the young children. This is a great way to keep student involved and spark their curiosities as they learn though gardening. You are able to teach the students botany, biology and the life cycle of plants and it’s also rewarding for the children to see their plants grown or pick out fresh veggies. I think something to keep in mind is what plants or vegetables are good for each season? It would be a shame to grown something over the spring and lose it over the summer so maybe a good idea would be to keep your garden with whatever the seasons might be. For example, for spring and fall kids can learn about harvests for that season and maintain the garden until summer and then switch the harvest to summer season. Good luck!

Elizabeth Jimenez Elizabeth Jimenez 285 Points

I think that you should start a small garden right away. This can be a teachable moment for the students to tell them that they can have a garden in any location. You can do a small herb garden inside the classroom. You also do not need to wait for spring. This is a great opportunity to teach the students that vegetables and garden grow during different seasons. You can incorporate the season into that lesson. 

This is a great idea! I would also love to start a garden with my students. My problem is the lack of space. Our outdoor space is not conducive to having a garden. I struggle with space, but also with time. Like other commentators, I am unsure if it is too late to start a garden or should I still try to do something small?

Faith Slinger Faith Slinger 2470 Points

I would personally start a small garden right away at the new preschool. You could even start by growing things in a little pots just so that the students could get an idea of how plants grow. Then once you get settled into your new building you could start a bigger garden. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

Abbi Staack Abbi Staack 1985 Points

I think that either starting right away or waiting would work. The fact that you are providing a garden to allow your students to work with is absolutely amazing. I never got to do anything like that when I was growing up. However, if you need to do something smaller in the fall that is easier, you could have students plant one or two seeds in a small pot that they have to water and tend to. 

Jody Foster Jody 725 Points

I believe it never hurts to try! Planting a garden when you start school could work depending on when you start, the earlier the better! But if the weather doesn't seem appropriate, I would start activities to get your students interested, so when it is time, they will be excited to start.

This past school year, my students and I became very intersted in planting a school garden. We brainstormed ideas why it would be beneficial and then wrote letters to our principals! We planted many seeds and made lots of observations. I am hoping next year, our school will be willing to let us start a school garden! 

George Mehler George Mehler 1360 Points

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Alejandra Cantu Alejandra Cantu 390 Points

Hi i would suggest starting it at the beginning of the year so that students get the full experience and get to see the progress through out the year. Also maybe taking a picture day 1 then half ways and finally at the end of the year so the students can keep a memory and are able to compare the difference. 

Alyssa Gaona Alyssa Gaona 790 Points

I think that it is definitely possible to begin your garden now! There is still plenty of products that can grow in the fall and through the cold winter months! It will also allow your students to monitor plants that survive and thrive in the cold. It may be interesting to compare the way fall/winter plants grow as opposed to spring and summer plants. 

Chonita Clayborne Chonita Clayborne 915 Points

Hi Peggy, I would maybe start it in the Spring. You could spend these months asking other teachers in the school to take a vote among students to see what you should plant. Kids like having a say so, it might give you more ideas and get others in the school more involved (if that's what you want). 

Happy planting and growing! 

Min Jeong (Esther) Lee Ester Lee 750 Points

I think the gardening activity is a great way to have students be engaged in learning through live experiences.  Starting it right right away would be a good to have some seeds planted but spring time would definitely allow a more prime season for growing.  Either way, this could be an opportunity for the students to visually learn from multiple season scenarios.

Iona Humphries Iona Humphries 415 Points

When I was in elementary school, we had a school garden, but students didn't really have the opportunity to take care of it. I think that allowing your students to take charge of a garden is a great way to teach them about responsibility and the life of plants and bugs, as well as processes like the water cycle and photosynthesis. This would be a great activity to start at the beginning of the Spring, late in the school year so that students have something fun to look forward to at school as summer break gets closer.

Eryn Hines Eryn Hines 570 Points

I think school gardens are a fantastic idea! I would mostly say that it depends on the climate of the area in which you live, keeping in mind that you can find a variety of things to plant year round. If a garden is not appropiate to begin now, then I would suggest other outside acivities for the children to explore and experience. For example, a bird feeder to watch from indoors, etc.

When planting a school garden, using raised beds are a great idea! I am currently interning at a school that plants flowers, herb, and other various plants. When school is not in session, community members, parents, and students volunteer to take care of the gardens.

Stephanie Alonso Stephanie Alonso 540 Points

Hi Peggy, 

I would that suggest that you should start a small garden right away, it might get many people involved and the students excited to see the process that by the time those plants have grown and it is spring there will be a lot of ethusiam over the garden. Ideally begining in the spring is best for the growth of the plant but I see nothing wrong with starting your small garden right away. I love gardening myself. Good luck with your gardening! 

Jennifer Montoya Jennifer Montoya 440 Points

Hi Peggy, 

 

I am so excited to hear that you want to start a small garden for your students. I never had an opportunity to have a small garden in preschool or elementary. I believe that you should start the small garden right away because it would be a great learning opportunity for the students to see the plant life cycle and just experience as many stages as possible. 

Best of luck!

Jennifer Montoya Jennifer Montoya 440 Points

Hi Peggy, 

 

I am so excited to hear that you want to start a small garden for your students. I never had an opportunity to have a small garden in preschool or elementary. I believe that you should start the small garden right away because it would be a great learning opportunity for the students to see the plant life cycle and just experience as many stages as possible. 

Best of luck!

Melanie Bajo Melanie Bajo 285 Points

I think starting a garden at school is an excellent idea. In my elementary school, the "Go Green" club made one and it was great. They would use it as a time to teach students the importance of preserving the environment. Waiting till spring may be a good idea, depending on the climate of where you live.

 

Dapheney Martinez Dapheney Martinez 755 Points

I think maybe waiting until spring would be a good idea. However, leading up to that time maybe discussion with the students what a garden is and how to take care of plants and what the gardens needs may be a good idea so that when the time comes to start the garden they have some background knowledge and can be more involved. I will soon be a teacher and back when i was in elementary school this is something I never experienced and it is definitely something I would like to implement with my classroom. 

Alexandra Rodriguez Alexandra Rodriguez 200 Points

Gardening is such a great way to get students involved in participating in science activities, especially young children that learn in a more hands-on environment. I believe it would be best to start in the spring as it is a little harder to maintain a garden during the winter seasons than it is during spring time.

Sabrina Gomez Sabrina Gomez 190 Points

I believe starting the garden right away would be a good incentive for the students to do goo during the week to be able to go help in the garden.

Yadira Rodriguez Yadira Rodriguez 210 Points

You should start a small gradern right away! You don't need to start planting anything until spring, but you can start prepping already. I hope your future garden flourishes!!

Tessler Baird Tessler Baird 2130 Points

I am currently a Senior at Wright State University studying Early Childhood Education and my professor always talks about the importance of showing our students the “life cycle” of a garden. Even if there is nothing growing in the garden, students can still investigate it. You could always create a whole year project that focuses on the garden and how it changes throughout the seasons. This would keep students interested in the garden and help deepen their understanding of how the garden functions throughout the year. You could even create a video with your students. The content could be about how the garden and the students change over the year.

Ashley GIbson Ashley GIbson 775 Points

Hi Peggy,

I completely understand your dilemma. I personally would recommend waiting until the Spring portion of the school year to start a class garden. I think that class gardens, at the preschool age, require a lot of established classroom rules, procedures, and background information. With such a young class it might be difficult to immediately start a class garden, especially with students who are not acclimated to the school environment. Another factor to consider would be, for the students who are already use attending school, they might still be adjusting to the new school location. All in all, I think class gardens are amazing and an excellent educational tool, but I would definitely recommend pushing it to the Spring. 

Sincerely,

Ashley Gibson

Brielle Davis Brielle Davis 480 Points

Hi Peggy, I definitely think you should wait until Spring to start your small garden. School gardens are a great idea and have so many great benefits. Some benefits of having a school garden are:

students learn focus and patience, cooperation, teamwork and social skills.

they gain self-confidence and a sense of “capableness” along with new skills and knowledge in food growing — soon-to-be-vital for the 21st century.


garden-based teaching addresses different learning styles and intelligences

start choosing healthy foods over junk food.

Marlu Martin Marlu Martin 810 Points

I just saw this is from 2014....  but I will answer anyways.  I would ask myself how heavy my workload is now in the midst of moving, and if the children are older, I would ask THEM.  I think including the students in some of our decisions builds trust.  Hope this helps someone.

Addie Focht Addie Focht 980 Points

I student taught at an elementary school with a garden. We started the garden at the beginning of the school year with the students. It was a great experience because the students got to plant the seeds themselves and watch the garden go through the different seasons. The students were able to have a garden party for their parents to show what they were growing, harvest their vegetables, and then made  salads for the class. The students loved helping out in the garden and it was easy to use the garden in any content area, especially science. Once, winter was over the students were able to start the process over again in spring, where the students researched which plants would grow best in that particular season. Overall, it was a great experience and by letting the students start and end with the garden allowed a full educational experience. Also, the school took parent and teacher volunteers to take care of the garden through the summer break.

Anne Lowry Anne Lowry 7195 Points

Just out of curiosity, what are various licensing / districts doing about school gardening during COVID19?  My school was told we could keep working our garden, but weren't to eat anything.  (Be interesting to see how this plays out when the peaches are ripe!)  What about other schools?

Florence Laubenthal Gail Laubenthal 210 Points

How about starting a smaller container garden this fall to get them interested and then in the spring they might want to plant more seeds and/or plants, especially spring flowers and veggies they can eat. I always like to plant Violas (also called Johnny-Jump-Ups) in the fall/winter garden, as they grow all winter. The flowers can be picked and added to a spring salad. My students loved these pretty little flowers, and they ate more salad when they were added! These flowers are also great for pressing and used when making handmade greeting cards. If you make recycled paper, you can also add the flowers to the sheet of new paper before pressing the water out.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Gail- Great idea! I think at this point I want to try some gardening with my students on a very basic level...and your idea is the best place to start. We are spending a lot of time doing Georgia ecosystems. This will help my student who get SpEd conceptually understand when we are speaking of plant and such in each region, I think. All the best, Naomi Beverly

Erin Kandlbinder Erin Kandlbinder 180 Points

Loving this idea! I definitely have been considering the idea of living plants in my (future) classroom but worried that I would forget about them and let them die. Having the students involved in the process would be killing two birds with one stone--lovely plants and plenty of potential science lessons (photosynthesis, reproductive systems of plants, how plants grow in certain conditions/seasons) all in one. 

Michelle Rodriguez Michelle Rodriguez 1230 Points

I like your idea of starting small to get the students interested. This would be more beneficial to you and the students because you will know if they will take the responsibility of caring for it. Thank you.

Florence Laubenthal Gail Laubenthal 210 Points

How about starting a smaller container garden this fall to get them interested and then in the spring they might want to plant more seeds and/or plants, especially spring flowers and veggies they can eat. I always like to plant Violas (also called Johnny-Jump-Ups) in the fall/winter garden, as they grow all winter. The flowers can be picked and added to a spring salad. My students loved these pretty little flowers, and they ate more salad when they were added! These flowers are also great for pressing and used when making handmade greeting cards. If you make recycled paper, you can also add the flowers to the sheet of new paper before pressing the water out.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Gail- Great idea! I think at this point I want to try some gardening with my students on a very basic level...and your idea is the best place to start. We are spending a lot of time doing Georgia ecosystems. This will help my student who get SpEd conceptually understand when we are speaking of plant and such in each region, I think. All the best, Naomi Beverly

Erin Kandlbinder Erin Kandlbinder 180 Points

Loving this idea! I definitely have been considering the idea of living plants in my (future) classroom but worried that I would forget about them and let them die. Having the students involved in the process would be killing two birds with one stone--lovely plants and plenty of potential science lessons (photosynthesis, reproductive systems of plants, how plants grow in certain conditions/seasons) all in one. 

Michelle Rodriguez Michelle Rodriguez 1230 Points

I like your idea of starting small to get the students interested. This would be more beneficial to you and the students because you will know if they will take the responsibility of caring for it. Thank you.

Peggy Ashbrook Peggy Ashbrook 9920 Points

Oh, good ideas! I do like pansies and jump-ups for their durability and beauty. A container is the way to go until we map the hours of sun and see which classes want to participate in the long run.
I've always wanted to run an Early Sprouts approach program but haven't had the space or assistance to garden.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Peggy- Whatever you decide to do, please keep us all posted by replying here. I am getting ready to move closer to family members who garden. I plan to learn from them how to do it, then transfer the skills and knowledge to the school nearest my new home for the benefit of the students. I'd like to use what you have learned during your start-up to help me along the way! All the best, Naomi Beverly

Azo O Ashley Osborn 4725 Points

Back when I was in elementary school, we had a "Butterfly Garden," and each grade was responsible for a specific section. If the children are young, I would start with something small like a few basic plants or shrubs. I really enjoyed the school garden we had, and would suggest planting it in the Spring rather than the Fall because of the heat index.

Kathy Renfrew Kathleen Renfrew 35148 Points

Steve Rich has developed some amazing resources to support Outdoor Science including lot of work around butterflies.Birds, Bugs, and Butterflies: Science Lessons for Your Outdoor Classroom

You could think about NGSS and butterflies at the same time. You could be working to help students achieve "Make observations (firsthand or from media) to collect data that can be used to make comparisons."

There are many more resources around the topic "butterflies" in the Learning Center.If you need help finding them call an online advisor to help.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

Thus far we planned to map the sunlight, to find out where the sunlight falls during the day so we can pick the best location for a small raised garden bed. I do hope we can have plants that will attract butterflies--both larval and adult butterfly food. I hope to plant some of the brassica family, probably collards, to attract the Cabbage white butterflies to lay eggs. Peggy

Sarah Benton Feitlinger Sarah Benton 1775 Points

Sounds like a great plan of action. You're planting the seeds for further garden lessons in the spring (pun intended). Keeping the school garden going throughout the summer and planting things kids could experience the entire life cycle of was always a challenge for me too! I never balanced it quite right. Our preschool teacher did a great job with her students. They planted potatoes and popcorn each spring and then the new class would harvest in the fall. She also kept her gardening/healthy eating program alive throughout the snowy winter by incorporating specific produce into her baking lessons each week. i.e. beet cake, zucchini muffins, avocado pudding, etc.

Lisa Lang Lisa Lang 1693 Points

Peggy, I like your idea to map the sunlight first. I'm going to research how best to do that. It's good timing as I just bought a pack of 100 butterfly weed seeds (orange milkweed) that I plan to plant in the ground this fall. Hopefully they will germinate. With some luck, we'll have hummingbirds and butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects throughout the summer blooming season! Lisa

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

I love the Learning Center--resources and the forums! Here's a bit more for anyone investigating butterfly gardens, a link to my post on The Early Years blog about the previous gardens I was able to use with children.
http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2010/05/07/learning-about-the-butterfly-lifecycle-with-local-butterflies/
Peggy

Carly Segovia Carly Segovia 1215 Points

I was wondering which would be more beneficial as well. Thank you for the reply. I like the idea of a smaller garden for the fall and gardening in the spring

Adriana Lopez Adriana Lopez 2655 Points

I also like the idea of a smaller garden in the fall to get the children interested while you wait for the spring. By the time spring comes around, you will have some professional gardeners! Good luck!

Jenny Hwang Jenny Hwang 4755 Points

This is a great idea! I was briefly reading through the posts and I wanted to share some gardening information with you! If you look up A Garden Story you can read about how having a garden made an impact on children's lives.

Heather Durham Heather Couser 4285 Points

This is great! I love the idea of having a garden for the classroom.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

Life intervened so I'm not setting up a garden...yet. We did plant 60 spring-flowering bulbs that we'll probably "share" with the squirrels. We planted tulips because they are non-poisonous, although daffodils are my first choice since they are not as attractive to squirrels. None of my students are likely to take a bite of a bulb when I'm not looking but many adults are sharing the planting experience so I chose a bulb I didn't have to worry about. Daffodils are not deadly poisonous but can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Sheila Falgout Sheila Falgout 900 Points

If you ever do a fall garden, winter greens like collards are a great way to go. They grow well in the fall and early winter and are a great way to get those kids interested in eating their leafy greens!

Adriana Gutierrez Adriana Gutierrez 1555 Points

I think having a garden for young students at school is a great idea for getting them involve with some science. Since, I haven't really seen any science really being done in younger grade levels I think the idea of a garden could be one that is not too difficult to accomplish.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

Adriana, I hope you get a look at the NSTA position statement on Early Childhood Science Education to see what young children are capable of.
I write about my own teaching experiences in PreK-grade 2, and research of others in The Early Years blog and The Early Years columns in Science and Children (search for "ashbrook" in Advanced Search).
I agree that young children can learn much about the nature of science and science concepts through gardening.

Susan Kirchner Susan Kirchner 1530 Points

How about starting a compost pile that you can maintain until the planting season? When it is time to break ground on whatever you decide to do, you can amend the soil! Much can be learned from this process. I also liked someone's previous post about planting bulbs this fall and enjoying some spring color!

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Susan- The compost pile you mention- would it be outside? I heard that flies and other pests like to be near compost piles. I have no experience with them (yet), but should we plan to compost outside? All the best- Naomi Beverly

Mayleen Cardenas Mayleen Cardenas 2460 Points

Hi All! I would like to mention that if the gardening project becomes a collaborative initiative among all the teachers, or a few, it will be easier to keep up. Watering is key, especially in Florida. Each teacher took turns watering everyday and it's best to do it after school. When it was time to harvest the vegetables, the school cafeteria made a salad and the children were able to taste it! I hope to learn a lot from your experiences and I thank you in advance for sharing your tips and suggestion.

Marsha Gardner Marsha Gardner 670 Points

I think it is a great idea to consider splitting the care, as well as the benefits, of a classroom garden. This is definitely something that a grade level team of teachers could organize effectively. A possible plan might be to assign each teacher a week of care. I think if I had a group of teachers that were willing to split some of the care, I would be more inclined to create a classroom garden.

Tiffany Miller Tiffany Miller 265 Points

I love that you suggested to get other teachers involved. This will be a great experience for their students as well!

Carina Hernandez Carina Hernandez 1845 Points

I liked reading all of your thoughts about having a garden in the classroom. Great ideas.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

Carina, what are your experiences and thoughts on gardening with children? Hearing what others have done or are doing helps me make decisions in my program. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 9920 Points

Thanks for suggesting collards, Sheila. I agree that they are wonderful plants for growing over the winter in many areas. I wrote an Early Years column in the April 2007 issue about using collards to attract Cabbage White butterflies so children can observe the caterpillars. It's free to all.

Do you have any suggestions for how children like eating greens best? Recipes?

Anne Lowry Anne Lowry 7195 Points

My crew loves kale. While they will eat it raw, they prefer it cooked. One way is sauté until just wilted; we usually serve this with sautéed sweet potato chunks (small cube) and rice. My class also like to make "kale chips" by spreading out washed/dried kaleon a sheet trayand drizzle with a little oil. Bake about 15 minutes in a moderately fast oven. When the kale is just brottle, it is done