I arrived, with my son, at school around nine in the morning. I was told to bring along with me anything I need to conduct my lesson. With a large cardboard box in hand, filled with all the items I would need, I proceeded onto class. I was a bit nervous and anxious, but more so, because I did not want to screw anything up.
The box I was carrying contained a trowel, seed starting pellets, a couple of packs of sunflower seeds, gardening gloves, plant markers, Dixie cups and 30 tomato plants, different varieties, about an inch to two inches tall.
When class began, I was asked to first to read the kids a gardening book, of which the teacher had about two dozen to choose from. With the kids ages being four and five years old, I knew reading a book would definitely capture their interest, so I wanted to select something good. I chose a book that had plenty of photos so I could ask the kids questions about the objects that they saw. I believe making things interactive is the best way of getting the message across.
While reading the book, I would point to an object, ask if they knew what it was and what it was used for. They immediately raised their hands in excitement to give me the answer.
After reading the book I started with the first interactive gardening portion of the day and that was to show the kids how, when you add warm water to a seed starting pellet, it magically grew into dirt! The teacher chimed in at this point and asked the kids “How many of you think that if you add water to it, it will make dirt?” The kids, in their loud and cheery way were all saying no, as if to relay, there is no way he could turn this hockey puck looking item into dirt.
I took one of the Dixie cups, put a seed starting pellet in it and then added some warm water to show the kids. Within a few seconds the water began to disappear and the pellet grew. Nearly all at once, the kids said “wow”, with an excited, “I can’t wait to see it again”.
I then gave each child a Dixie cup and seed starting pellet of their own. The teacher went around and added the water. Visions of rolls of paper towels needed to clean up the floor had danced through her head. I don’t blame her. I have seen my own son, try to pour things at home, and at times, it didn’t go well.
Within moments the kids’ seed pellets were fully grown awaiting the next step. I had decided, when I was putting my teaching plan together, that the kids would get to take a plant home. It was actually my wife’s idea to make it a sunflower. I chose the Mammoth Grey variety. When I told the kids that the sunflower could get taller than me (I am six foot, three inches tall), they loved the idea of having it grow at home to see how tall it would really get.
My wife made the suggestion of the sunflower for two reasons, of which I thought of neither, and both make sense. First, it is a large seed, thereby making it easier for the kids to handle. Second, just the mere size of the sunflower when fully grown is truly awe inspiring to look at, and with the kids being that much shorter, makes the sunflower look that much taller.
Each child received one seed and I gave them instructions on how to plant it in the pellet. Of course we went around the room to make sure each child’s seed was planted correctly. Once their seeds were planted, the teacher and the teacher’s aide had the kids come up with the seed planted Dixie cup where they were placed in plastic food storage bags, with their names written on them ready to go when it was time to leave for the day.
I had previously printed up some growing instructions on four by eight sheets of paper to be included in the bags so their parents knew what to do with the planted seed once it got home. I thought it would make it much easier for the parents.
Once the activity was complete, it was snack time for the kids. I began to set up the second portion of my day, getting the items ready to go plant some tomatoes in the outside school garden. I’ll save that story for my next article.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
|Watch the video below to learn more about Mike`s Seeds of the Month Club:|