Alternate Gardening Solutions

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SWBAT describe potting soil and hydroponics as alternatives to the clay, sand, silt, and loam.

Big Idea

It's a new age and we grow things in different ways! Let's talk about other useful types of soil!

Teacher Preparation

In this lesson, students learn about alternatives to traditional planting. Although this lesson is teacher-led using a PowerPoint as the main teaching method, authentic questioning and scientific conversation is equally important. Also, use of science journals to engage students before, during, and at the close of the lesson ensures understanding of the content.

This lesson supports Essential Standard 1.E.2.1. in which students summarize the physical properties of Earth materials including soil that makes them useful in different ways. Well, there are lots of alternative planting methods, like hydroponics and greenhouses, that make soils useful in many, many different ways! Listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question.



*Alternative Planting - slides

*Student science journals and pencils

Warm Up

5 minutes

To start today's lesson, I say,

"We have spent lots of time talking about soil and plants. Now, open your journal to your next clean page. Label the top 'Garden', and take about 5 minutes to draw a place where you think you would be a great place to have a garden".

The idea behind this warm up is to have students think that a garden must be outside, in the open-air, usually near a farm or wide-open space. I doubt they will think of a downtown area in the middle of a city, although it depends where students are from! However, since this lesson is to give students a broad idea of alternatives to traditional planting and growing, this activity will get students thinking and talking about what they already know. Recording ideas and thoughts supports Science and Engineering Practice 4, Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

I say,

"Where might you see a garden?"

As students respond, I listen and try not to guide their conversation - I don't want to give away any of my secrets! At least, not for a few minutes!


20 minutes

First, we watch this introductory video to hydroponic gardening. I chose this video because it is narrated by a young girl and she explains how hydroponic gardening works, as well as showing great examples of a downtown Manhattan!

After the video, I say,

"Hydroponic gardening means that plants can be grown in water without soil. There are other alternatives to traditional gardening, as well!"

Then, I show the PowerPoint with pictures of rooftop gardens and greenhouses and we discuss them and how they are used and I say,

"Did anybody draw these pictures when I asked you about where you might find a garden?!"

After the PowerPoint, I show this website which explains what potting soil is made from. Although potting soil is more familiar to us than perhaps some of the other alternative planting choices, students still may not know (and we may not really know!) what it actually is. I read part of the text and show the pictures to explain that the potting soil is a mixture that has been developed by soil scientists for use by gardeners to grow better plants. This works to directly support the Essential Standard 1.E.2.1, because students are understanding the use of the soil!

Wrap Up

5 minutes

To finish the lesson, we return to the essential question and I say,

"On the next page, write 'New Garden Idea' and take a few minutes to draw a new place that you now know that you could grow plants!'"

After a few minutes, I invite students to share their ideas and drawings, which supports Science and Engineering Practice 8 as they communicate their thoughts and drawings.