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Spring is in the Air
By the National Gardening Association, www.garden.org
Spring is in the air for much of the country, with the hint of warmer weather as the snowflakes turn to rain. Teachers and children alike are ready to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. With the season quickly approaching, there are many activities that can be done in the classroom to temper spring fever and get ready for a new season of school gardening.
- Celebrate National Garden Month with a spring revel. Originating in Roman times as the celebration of the Goddess of Flowers, the revel is now commonly held in villages across England to welcome in spring. On the first of May, people of all ages follow a flower- lined path to enjoy music and dance around May poles. A young girl is chosen as Queen of May and crowned with a special, flower-adorned headdress. Encourage each student to design their own flowered crowns using wildflowers or even dandelions. Embellish their crowns with wire, ribbon, ivy strands or artificial flowers (found at local craft stores).With a little encouragement, each student can design his or her own unique creation. On the day of the revel invite parents and families to join in the celebration. Parents can participate by donating seeds, transplants, or starts from plants for your school garden.
- Germinating seeds and watching them grow is an engaging and exciting experience for young gardeners. When starting seeds indoors, begin by using commercial seed-starting mix, which is sterile and provides the necessary drainage. Encourage your students to follow proper seed- planting starting instructions, such as using rulers to measure the appropriate depth. It is important to keep the soil mix moist, but not overly wet, and never let it dry out. Provide younger children with spray bottles instead of watering cans to prevent damage to tender plants. As seedlings begin to emerge, encourage students to track their progress. Comparing and contrasting the rates of growth among different seedlings can be a dynamic mathematical exercise.
- Send the garden home with your students. Give each child a small piece of paper embedded with wildflower seeds. This special paper can be purchased from Botanical Paperworks, or you may find it at local paper store. Ask the students to create an invitation for family members requesting that they attend a spring cleaning event in the school garden. Following the event, show the parents and students how to “plant” their invitation by placing the piece of paper in the soil and watering it. Encourage students to plant the invitation with their families and start a small garden of their own. Have the students report on their family gardens and share their experiences.
- Create a living necklace. Build excitement and support for gardening in a unique way, through the creation of a wearable, growing necklace. Using floral tubes found at local flower shops or through craft stores, place a string through the top of the tube, making a knot to secure the top of the tube to the string. Choose a variety of fast growing, larger seeds, such as radishes, corn, or beans. Wet a cotton ball and place both the seeds and cotton ball inside the tube. Make sure to close the top of the tube with the rubber cap. Ask student to predict the number of days till the seeds germinate and document the changes in a journal. This is primarily an exercise in observing how a seed germinates, although you may be able to transplant the seed after it sprouts.
For more lesson plans and activity ideas on celebrating the seasons and all things in the garden, visit www.kidsgardening.org.