Welcome to Spring 2018, everyone! I hope your plants are growing and things are greening up in your neck of the woods. It is almost time to get into the garden! Before we start talking about that, I want to revisit Earth Day 2018, which occurred on April 22, 2018. Yes, this is a bit of a throwback podcast. Don’t worry: this is a fun podcast! During that week, teachers give a daily Earth Day Tip about recycling, green technology and love for the planet. Those lessons are fine and good, but they do not allow a student to actually get their hands dirty in soil and plant something they can take home. A few years ago, I decided to take the bull by the horns and teach my own Earth Day Tip, and the result is a hands-on lesson to teach students about gardening. I wanted students to see gardening in a different light and get excited about growing their own plants!
This podcast is quite a bit different than other podcasts because you get to be part of the crowd of kindergarten students as I teach them about gardening! For Earth Day 2018, I went to a local elementary school and presented about the three basic elements needed for gardening: light, water and soil. For those of you who want to make a difference in a student’s life while helping the planet, my Earth Day Tip is Teach Gardening.
Earth Day Tip: Teach Gardening
During my presentation, I discussed the following topics with the students:
Three Basic Elements of Gardening
- The Sun
- Grow Lights
- Too Little
- Too Much
- Basic Soil
- Additives: Compost; Manure (nothing makes the students laugh more than poop!)
Gardening is Freedom; Be Creative!
- Rain Gutter Grow Systems
- Itsy Bitsy Grow System
- Raised Beds
- You can grow in anything; even a toilet!
Note: in years past, I brought different soils into the classroom for students to touch, feel and smell. I brought mason jars with sand, compost , vermiculite and garden soil. I wanted the students to understand that not all soils are the same, but we can still grow plants in a number of soils! This year, however, many of my soil sources were buried in melting snow drifts. I did not bring in the different samples, but we made due, especially with the limited time we had for this presentation and exercise.
At this point in the presentation, I show the students the Burpee Coir material. I add water per the instructions, and the block of recycled coconut material becomes a potting soil material. I then let the students plant seeds in the green solo cups (2 seeds per student).
Putting It All Together
During Earth Day Week, our students are inundated with lessons about recycling, fossil fuels/green energy for Earth Day. While it is cool and neat to write slogans on the sidewalk near the entrance to school or pick up some trash, none of the lectures and discussions compare to actually getting their hands dirty in soil.
My Earth Day Tip is to Teach Gardening to students. The best thing about this lesson is that students get to learn about the topic and then put the lesson into action. Beyond this lesson, they get to maintain the plants as they grow (water the plants regularly) and eventually plant seedlings into the ground or a pot. If they continue to maintain these plants, they will get the added bonus of the harvest. For these students in this presentation, they will grow bush beans (even though some students didn’t like beans)!
One side benefit for this lesson is that you can impact a number of lives and not spend a lot of money in the process. This lesson is relatively inexpensive! You can complete this lesson for under $10 in materials. To teach gardening to the students, I used some basic materials:
- 1 pack of Burpee Bush Bean Seeds (2 seeds for 20 students)
- 1 block of Burpee Coir Potting Materials (more blocks needed if there are more than 20 students
- 2 Packs Green Solo Cups from Dollar Tree (drainage holes pre-drilled with a drill and 1/8” drill bits
- 5 gallon bucket
- Tap water
If you are a teacher in the Twin Cities area and would like me to present to your students, please feel free to reach out to me at realsmallscalelife [at] gmail dot com or send a message through the “Contact Us” page on smallscalelife.com.
If you would like to Teach Gardening to your local school (it doesn’t have to be on Arbor Day), use the presentation and materials list! Please feel free to reach out to me at realsmallscalelife [at] gmail dot com or send a message through the “Contact Us” page on smallscalelife.com, and I will send you the presentation. The students love the exercise, and you will make a positive impact on their lives.
I texted with the teacher tonight as I prepared to publish this post. The seedlings are growing GREAT, and I will post an updated picture when I receive it. There is nothing like working with students, especially when they see the results of their work!
What I really love about this is that I am taking the slogan “learn, do and grow” and making it a reality. Give it a try; you WILL make a difference in their lives.