A classroom gardening project can be a fun and wonderful learning experience for you and your students. It is also something the entire school can become involved in, if organized properly. Gardening shows children the cycle of life, as well as where a lot of their fruits and vegetables come from. It is something they can become involved in and will hopefully give them a sense of pride in what they have created. It may even open up a life time of love for growing flowers and vegetables.
There are several things to consider when you are organizing a gardening project for a classroom or school. This article will go through all the things to consider, and the necessary steps you will need to take.
- Get the Children Familiar with Gardening. Before you even consider putting seeds in the dirt and buying a classroom full of spades it's a great idea to familiarize the children with the concept of gardening and plants in general. Take the children to the library and let them check out books on plants and gardening. If your school has Internet access for the children, allow them to enter sites (that you have pre-approved and researched) so they may look at pictures of gardening, as well as read and learn about it. Giving them even a half hour a day to learn about the project will not only spark an interest, it will prepare them for all the hard work.
- Choose the Location. This is something you will most likely need to discuss with the head of the school. You will need to determine if your garden will be outdoors or indoors. If you are very lucky, your school will allot you a small piece of land in order to plant a garden. If this is so, take what you can get. Having the garden outdoors will give the children a feel for the real thing! In fact, it will be the real thing!
If you cannot use a piece of land and have to have your garden indoors, don't fret. There are ways of growing inside the classroom, just as easy. Make sure that the indoor area you choose has a good light source, or get artificial lighting to allow the plants to grow with ease. A wonderful option is the AeroGarden, which is meant for indoor use. It has an area for the seeds, with a light above it. They are temperature and light controlled. They will make inside growth easier for you, but less of a learning experience for the children. They are a wonderful tool but they also run around $150 for the most basic model. It is always an option to ask the school board to purchase one for your classroom if you cannot afford it yourself. It is also an option to teach the children about saving money as well, and having a fundraiser in order to purchase one.
- Obtain Your Supplies. Whether your garden is indoors or out, you will need supplies. If you cannot afford to purchase the supplies on your own teacher's salary, it is always an option to ask the school, or ask the children's families. It is possible that the children may end up wanting their own tools anyway!
Tools you will need are spades, a hose, sprinkler, or watering can (depending on the location), a wheelbarrow (if outdoors), a children's sized shovel (if outdoors), and a Small Rake (if outdoors).
Whether inside or out, you may want to purchase bags of gardening soil. This will of course depend on the quality of land you are gardening on if the garden is outdoors. If indoors, purchasing a series of plastic or clay pots, or long plastic or clay troughs will be your best bet. Keep in mind that clay will hold in more water, keeping the seeds and plants moist. If at all possible, you should include the children in the selection of the tools they will need. This can be done in the classroom, with you purchasing them later.
- Choose the Plants. Hopefully by this time your class will have viewed several books and even websites about plants and gardening. This will help a lot when you choose the plants. You will want to choose plants that will be fun for the children as well as easy. This will help so they do not get discouraged in the growing process. The fact is, the easier the plants grow, the more accomplished the children will feel.
The children will need to choose if they want a vegetable garden, flower garden, or a combination of the both. I suggest a combination, as it will enhance the children's senses with sights, smells, and even touch. Good vegetables to grow with children are Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Carrots, just to name a few. Good flowers to grow with the children are Snapdragons, Marigolds, and Sunflowers. There are many other options. You could even let the children choose one or two plants no matter what the care requirements. This will give them an interesting challenge and learning experience.
Another great plant to grow is Lambs Ear. This leafy green plant has a soft texture and will be delightful for the children to grow and touch.
- Prepare Your Land. Especially if your garden is outdoors, you will need to prepare the soil before you plant any seeds. This step is an easy one! Give the children rakes and shovels, and allow them to work the soil until it is loose, soft and ready for planting. Have them water it, and then rake again. Once the soil is prepared the students can decide where to put each type of seeds.
- Plant and Have Fun! This part is self explanatory. If you and your class have made it this far, you are ready to put those seeds in the ground, and turn those brown thumbs to green thumbs! In the end you will be glad for all the hard work you and your students put into your classroom garden!!