Advanced Preparation: wheel barrows, pitch forks, mulch, rakes, book Plant A Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen.
The students gather on the carpet and watch a quick video about maintaining a garden. They then head out to the garden to perform some of the jobs mentioned in the video. The students will return to the room and write about the tasks they performed. The lesson will finish with a reading of the story Plant A Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen.
Planting a garden is not part of our districts curriculum but rather a part of our school's culture. Each year every class is given a crop or two to plant in the garden. The garden is tended to throughout the summer and the crops are used in our school lunch. The garden lessons in this unit will tie into their learning of plant needs and will culminate with a "How To" Poster on Gardening
The students gather on the carpet for a discussion and to watch a quick video about garden maintenance.
"Over the last week, we have prepped and planted crops in the school garden. We have done a lot of work to get to the point that we are at. However, we are not done. There are jobs that will happen until the garden is harvested in the fall."
"I want you to watch the following video. Once it is done, we will talk about some of the jobs that we will do today."
I focus on weeding, mulching, and watering. I let the students know that the other jobs will happen throughout the summer (by students who sign up to take care of the garden).
The students head out to the garden and gather by the tool shed. I break them up into teams of four and explain to them the jobs that need to be done.
"Today, we will start by weeding are garden plots. I will give each team a section and ask that you weed that space. Then you will water the plants and seeds. You will use the watering can to water the section you weeded. Finally you will mulch around the basil plants and in between the rows of seeds."
I want the students to experience doing each of the three jobs. By participating with these tasks, it will help them remember each of these steps (when they write in their journals).
The students return to the classroom. Once there, I ask them to take out their science notebooks and have them write about the work they did in the garden. They can use words and pictures to explain their work and the steps that they did today. These entries will serve as reference notes when they write their procedural piece on day 5 (see explanation in the next section).
"I would like you to open up your notebooks for today's and continue to write in today's entry. I would like you to explain what you did today. You can use words and pictures to help explain what you accomplished."
I take out the plants from the "Plant Needs Experiment" that we started earlier in the unit. At this point the results are quite evident and the plant that got water, light, and air is the healthiest of the four. I lead a discussion about the results and relate it to the work that we have done in the garden. I want the students to connect to the idea that our work in the garden will give the seeds and plants the air, water, sun, and nutrients they need to grow and produce.
I finish the lesson by reading the story Plant A Little Seed. I read through the story and point out the parts of the gardening process that we have already done. As I read the rest of the book, I explain the things that will happen, in the garden, during the summer and fall.
Although I won't expect them to explain the summer and fall happenings, within the final assessment (tomorrow's lesson), I feel it is valuable to go through the entire process (from seed to harvest).
As I stated in the Setting the Stage section of this lesson, This (planting a garden) is not a mandated curriculum by our district. It is a school collaboration that happens on a yearly basis. It becomes a community affair with kids and families taking care of it over the summer.
There is no set assessment required for this mini-unit. So, I use it as an opportunity to assess the students' ability to wrote a procedural piece. At the end of the mini-unit, they will be asked to write a piece that explains the steps in planting and maintaining a garden. I will allow the students to use their notes from their science notebook entries to help support their writing. This assignment will happen on Day 5 of the mini-unit.
On Day 4, I use the results of the plant need experiment to tie in how all of the garden steps help plants get the things they need to survive. Today, I will be looking for entries that outline the steps of weeding, watering, and mulching and who these steps allow plants to access the things they need to survive.