Growing plants in the classroom is an excellent way to get students excited about science!
- Start with seeds in the classroom. For very young children, it is exciting just to see the seeds germinate. You can do this by wrapping seeds or beans in wet paper towels and placing them in a clear plastic bag. The seeds should begin germinating in a few days, which can give the students an idea of what is happening underground when plants begin to grow.
- Continue with seedlings in the classroom. At the same time as the seeds are beginning to germinate, plant the same type of seeds in dirt. Students can draw conclusions about what exactly is happening under the soil and even draw diagrams. They can also predict how long it will be before a sprout appears and is visible above the soil.
- Grow native plants in your classroom. A quick Internet search or trip to a plant nursery should let you know which plants are native to your area. This can tie the plant-growing in the classroom in with natural history and other social studies lessons. Also, after growing the plants in your classroom, you can take the students on field trips to see where the plants grow naturally.
- Try growing plants hydroponically. Can plants be grown without soil? There is actually a long history of hydroponics, or growing plants without soil -- dating back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. You can integrate history into your science lessons as you are growing plants in the classroom, hydroponically! Have your students research how plants absorb nutrients when no soil is available.
- Explore the needs of plants. What do plants need to stay alive? Are there exceptions? This can be explored quite successfully by growing plants in the classroom and making observations along the way. Which variables are necessary and which help plants grow better?
- Grow a salad. Fun for every age group: grow all the ingredients for a salad! Lettuce, radishes, and carrots can all be grown fairly easily, and tomatoes can be grown for those who want more of a challenge. The best part about growing a salad is that at the end of the unit, your class can eat what you have grown!
- Try to start an outdoor garden at your school. While this is not technically growing plants in the classroom, it can benefit the entire school to have an outdoor garden. Students and classes can take turns being responsible for watering and weeding, and a larger variety of plants can be grown.
However you decide to grow plants in the classroom, it is sure to be an exciting science lesson. Students of all ages get fulfillment from growing things - and they can let their creativity run wild with their own gardens!