Saturday, March 31, 2012
After completing the Living and Non-Living, Animals unit, it's time to move on to plants! It is a bit harder for the kids to understand that plants are living. They seem to think that living means you make sound! :)
Since I have killed my fair share of plants, I always have a dead houseplant somewhere I can bring in to prove that plants are living things and can die. I left one outside last year one night too many, got killed by the cold temps. I just left it there to bring in with this unit - instant science lesson! :) Of course, the kids are shocked that their teacher killed something!
So now we are moving on to the needs of plants.
This video has the same tune as the one I used with animal needs, so they kids picked it up quickly.
* One way to easily demonstrate the needs of plants is to purchase two small plants that would be okay in the classroom for a bit. (Like a few marigolds, pansies, etc.) Take care of one, and cover the other with a shoebox and leave it alone. Check it every other day for signs of death!
On to plant parts and life cycle.
I was rather shocked when not one of my students could produce the term "roots" when we started this lesson. They really have had little experience with them, and we live in a rural area where most everyone has some sort of garden!
To really bring the word to life we went outside. Thankfully, the grass had not had it's first mowing of the season yet, so of course we found lots of dandelions. But first, I was concentrating on roots. We observed the roots of the two large trees in the school's front yard, and then I dug up a couple of "weeds" so they could get up close and personal with them.
They were so excited to see the dandelions, or "wishing flowers". They had no idea that the yellow flowers and "wishing flowers" were the same thing! Everyone picked a dandelion, either in flower or seed form, and we pulled as many of the dandelion leaves as we could to bring in to feed the class guinea pig, Simba.
We brought in the plants, and passed out magnifying glasses to observe the roots, stems, seeds, and flowers. This video from cookie has decent animation of the life cycle of a plant. I recommend, however, turning off the sound and doing your own narration.
We drew diagrams of a flower, and to incorporate needs they drew the soil (which they are trying to remember as a "fancy" word for dirt), sun, and water drops, and a few wavy lines for air. I did this on the smartboard and and wrote the terms at the end.
Activities, projects, and resources: ( I know we all grow plants, do a lot of the same activities, read the same books. Trying to present new ideas I've found or done that will bring more meaning and play!)
*Whenever they sit in the floor, we "plant our roots in the garden" (sit on our bottoms) "grow our stems straight" (sit up straight and tall) "flowers face the sun" (look at the teacher - yep! That's me, Little Miss Sunshine) and put our "leaves" in our laps.
This video will help kids learn the basic parts of a plant. They like to correct her and say it takes more than sun and showers, they have to have soil, air, and space, too. :)
*This booklet worksheet place.com does a nice job of incorporating plant parts, needs, and life cycle. There's not enough for the kids to "do" rather than tracing and coloring. My idea for incorporating this:
Show on the smartboard if you have one and work on reading it together. Make a few copies on cardstock, laminate, and put in writing center. To scaffold, trace the words and color the parts with the same color (i.e. on second page shown in pin below, trace and color seeds with a green marker, trace and color soil with brown) Give the students blank mini books, and have them write their own plant books, with the instructions they cannot simply copy the text from the book. Diagrams and labels, or their own sentences! I would have this be a multi-day process, so they can really take their time and do a nice job.
*Sprout beans in CD cases. Add soil, and the kids will be able to watch it grow roots and sprout! To get them started and excited, show this time lapse YouTube video of radish seeds sprouting.
*This site has gorgeous plant photo cards - foods from plants, plant life cycle. Great for matching, sequencing, even displaying with vocabulary. Thinking of making a plants file folder for the writing center with the photos and their vocabulary terms, or printing and labeling to put into a plant words 3 prong folder with page protector.
*YouTube Tiny Seed by Eric Carle - using this during computer center as a listening center. (Warning, the background music is calming. Don't let kids listen when they are tired, or they will all be asleep!)
BBC has a great computer game that your kids can do independently (if you have headphones). They water a plant and watch it grow, label the parts, and then there is a pretty good 10 question quiz that children can click on the volume to have read to them).
Feed the animals!
*If you, or anyone in your school, has a class guinea pig or other herbivore, grow a salad garden in a container for it's food ( and hey - you won't have to pack your salad anymore. Just keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge and cut off a few leaves for you! :) I had thought about container carrots, but it's too late in the school year for that since they take 60-80 days to have carrots to eat, and we have 60 days left of school!!!!! I might start it early next year as part of our guinea pig care at the beginning of the year.
* Grow a grass small world Buy a couple of aluminum casserole dishes - the kind you freeze lasagna in. Plant it generously with grass seeds, and when the grass grows, you have a couple of "small worlds" for the kids to play in. Add dinosaurs, jungle animals, fairies, tractor and farm animals, little loose parts from nature, the possibilities are endless!
*Plant grass seeds in clear punch cups. Let the students cut out eyes, noses, mouths from magazine to create "grass people" (or something slightly less....illegal sounding). Or just use construction paper to create their own. They can style it's hair (I'm thinking pigtails for my little grass girl!) OR if you have sunny D small bottles floating around, they are great for this, too. If you have photos of your students, their pictures glued (modge podged?) onto the cups with the grass as their own hair would be adorable!
*3-D art plant parts: construction paper base. Use yarn pieces for the roots, straws for the stems, cupcake liners for the flower, and sunflower seeds for the flower. You can either paint or use construction paper for the leaves.
*Sensory tubs - fill your sand/water table with dried beans. They'll love it! Counting Coconuts has a FABULOUS sensory tub with dirt, silk flowers, and seeds, and playdough activity as well! I might make a few of the dirt ones to take on the playground, our custodians might appreciate them being designated as outside activities!
Fine motor - Playdough flowers - they'll have a blast using garlic press to make roots, rolling stems, cutting leaves, shaping flowers. My students love to use cookie cutters for the flower.
*Practical life - have out trays with silk flowers and vases, and let the children work on flower arranging. Take the children out to pull the "weeds" in the school yard.
Paint with Dandelions - my daughter and I had a blast with this one!
Growing Kinders has some great ideas for incorporating writing and math skills into a plant unit.
Enchanted Learning has some cool looking plant booklets if you are a subscriber. I'm not, so I'm just going on the image they give us. :)
Cute ideas for "planters:
Egg carton - I think half of an egg carton would make an adorable hairy caterpillar!
Kid friendly watering "can" - Use a water bottle that is lightweight plastic with thin top. Using hammer and nail, tap holes in the top. Only fill about 3/4 full. Kids can squeeze (fine motor!) water onto plants. Control the flow with the number of holes. Any type of plastic "bottle" with a lid will work, I used a water bottle but was inspired by this:
Outdoor gardens "outside the box"
I LOVE this outdoor play garden. This wouldn't be feasible at our school, (totally doing at home for the princesses), but if you could do it, it looks GREAT!
Love this wall garden if you can work it out, kids could take their milk jug home easily at the end
I like this idea of a cinderblock wall garden. Lots of inspiration on this post:
Family Fun - Grow your name - This looks like so much fun! (I'm not that ambitious, but some of you may be!)
Family Fun - recycled paper plantable greeting cards Again, if you are really ambitious, you can turn scrap paper into cards (Mother's Day?) with wildflower seeds embedded. Plant the card. I LOVE this idea!