Gardening vegetables, flowers, and care for trees, shrubs and lawns in a northern climate
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Gardening In the Classroom
by Diana Roberts
Category: Vegetables
I think it is so important for children to start gardening early in their lives so they can learn to appreciate where our food comes from. One of the best places for kids to learn about gardening is at school where they can enjoy learning along with their friends.
As a theme for their classroom, kids can make an indoor landscape garden using flat river rocks for a border or walkway to the garden. Each of these rocks can be painted by the children to make them decorative. The children will be thrilled to put their artistic talents to work for their very own ‘indoor garden’. Large branches of pussy willows stuck in pots make great trees to decorate your landscape. Add in anything the children wish, to make it their garden.
The class can also build their own indoor greenhouse from PVC pipes and plastic. Use lengths of pipe and corners to make a greenhouse any size you wish, and then cover it with clear plastic sheets. The plastic can be hot glued onto the PVC pipes and you are set to go. You may wish to put sand boxes inside the greenhouse to allow the children to dig. As for other greenhouse items, you can have plastic hand tools, gloves, plastic flower pots and flowers, plant markers, hats, seeds (large ones such as sunflowers, beans & peas) and other safe gardening items. This allows the kids to play at gardening and learn what each tool would be used for. The use of gloves and hats also teaches them how to protect their skin while gardening.
Another option for classrooms is to take the children out of the classroom and let them do some real gardening in the great outdoors! If there is room in your school yard, let the children plant their own young tree and take care of it. Over the years, the children can watch the tree grow and observe how it changes with each season. They can make a paper copy for hanging inside their classroom which can be added to as the tree grows. This can also be a project for an entire school, to involve the children for years to come.
The children can decide on a name for the tree, possibly in the way of a contest. Having their very own tree to look after will teach the children what plants need to grow, such as water, soil, fertilizer and sunshine. They will learn that leaves fall off in the fall, but new ones take their place in the spring. As time goes on they can measure how big around the trunk is, how tall it gets and watch to see what kinds of animals or bugs live on the tree.
If the tree is a whole-school project, each class can take on one aspect of growing a tree. One class may keep a picture book of the tree, writing down dates and times when the tree sprouted leaves or when it bloomed, and when the leaves turned color and fell off. Another class may keep a diary of what care was given to the tree, and when. Younger children can lie under the tree and look at the way the branches grow outward and what the bark looks like.
Real garden
If your town has a community garden, why not book one of the beds for your class and plant a real garden. The children can decide what they want to plant, where to put each vegetable and whether or not they should grow some flowers as well. You could buy a child-sized wheel barrow, gardening gloves and plastic garden tools for the class to use. You may want to sprout the larger seeds inside the classroom to allow the children to see how long it takes a seed to come to life.
School year
Going to the community garden can be a class outing once a week to water, weed and check out the progress of the garden. At the end of the school year, any families who wish to take over the garden for the summer can harvest from the garden. When the new school year starts, there will still be things to be done in the garden, like harvesting potatoes and cabbage and cleaning up the garden before winter. In this way the class will start with garden cleanup and end the year with a thriving garden, having gone through many stages of growing your own food.

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