As you may have read on my Facebook page, I have set up a little classroom garden with my fifth and sixth class. Don’t ask me why, I am not exactly blessed with green fingers, but I suppose that is the reason why I started it. Mom and Dad are excellent at gardening and we have two beautiful gardens at home. Here in Dublin however I have a tiny yard , which isn’t exactly conducive to gardening. Anyway,the only way to become good at something is to do it! Also, at this stage in the year 6th class really need exciting and engaging activities as 1st year is calling a lot of them! I always knew gardening would be a great way to explore various strands in the science curriculum, but after speaking to a colleague I realised that it integrates into much more than that, and I will now pass that knowledge I received on to you!
So, first of all, gardening is fun. That’s the most important thing. If you’re having fun, you will learn more. So how does it link to our curriculum?
Procedural Writing: How we planted various seeds, and the differences between how we planted them e.g. potatoes versus lettuce.
Reading: reading comprehensions and facts about gardening and poems about flowers (Daffodils by Wordsworth)
Read the book ‘The Secret Garden’ – one of my childhood favourites!
Persuasive Writing: Write a letter to the minister of education outlining why gardening should be a subject in school.
Creative Writing/Narrative: A story about a secret/magical garden.
Report writing: reports about various plants and where they originate from.
Writing: writing out the plan for the garden, the flowers we should grow, materials we will require, jobs for the garden etc.
Oral Language: discussing the garden, which flowers , vegetables and plants we should grow and why.
Maths: Length: measuring the garden, the perimeter and area. Also, measuring the amount the plants grow week by week or even day by day. Number and Operation: If there are 30 seeds in the packet and we are dividing the seeds into six pots, how many seeds will we have in each pot?
Irish: An t-Earrach.
Geography: Explore different climates around the world, and how plants adapt accordingly. So for example, would plants in Ireland grow differently to plants in Spain? Would the same plants grow in both places?We will also explore exotic plants. Explore soil and plant growth, and the sun. Do plants grow differently depending on soil type?
SPHE: Explore healthy eating and sustainable development through gardening, i.e. growing our own vegetables.
Science:Become aware of the sun as a source of energy for plants through photosynthesis and study the concept of food chains and pests behaviour on plants. Learn how to till and sow a variety of garden vegetables, i.e. soil depth, length apart, rotation areas, proper sowing times,best weather conditions. Study some basic life processes in plants , nutrition,reproduction, movement in response to light, use of oxygen and carbon dioxide. We are going to conduct a potato experiment. Four different groups are going to grow potatoes in different locations around the school, in/out of the sun, etc and we will see which potatoes grow best.
Art: Design your plan for the school garden on paper. Construct your plan via a diorama. Explore patterns in the garden, colours, textures etc. Respond to artists work of gardens and flowers, e.g. ‘water lilies’, using bark and leaves for rubbings and patterns. Paint and design flower pots. In my class the kids will be designing their tyres. (They each have a tyre to use as a flower bed)
History: Explore the importance of plants / vegetables long ago, and how people relied on them to stay alive, e.g. why did Irish people rely on the potato and what happened when the potato blight started?
Explore the history of making bread. Make homemade bread in school (science too!)
I think that is more or less it.
Our garden is fully inside at the moment on our window sills as it is too cold at the moment to plant anything but for the potatoes we planted on Friday. The various herbs and flowers are growing however and will be transplanted outside once our tyres are painted and the weather warms up a bit! If you are unsure of what to grow, start with cress, basil, radishes and sunflowers, as they are growing well for me at the moment!