How To Garden Indoors with Children

Easy, Inexpensive and Interactive Science!

Kid gardening

Do you love to garden? Do you want to begin a garden in your home or classroom? Are you unable to garden because you live in a temperate zone with long winters? Well here is some good news for gardeners and teachers who want to bring some life science and gardening into the classroom, especially in the winter months. You can easily and inexpensively begin a good-sized garden right in your classroom. Here's how:

  1. Inspire your administration! Get your support staff on board for a great gardening project. Show them this plan (or jazz it up in Powerpoint presentation). Demonstrate how useful this project will be in curriculum. Use my articles on How to Include Gardening in the K-1 Curriculum.
  2. Get parents and the community enthusiastic: See my article on how to get grant money for a school gardening project. Use the PowerPoint you created to get parents on the ball with you.
  3. Solicit help and advice from parents who may be gardeners, nursery workers or farmers. Invite them to speak with children, help with the gardening or submit input or direction.
  4. Set up a large plastic tarp in one corner of the classroom. This will protect the floor. If you have any tiled area, this would be the best place to put it.
  5. Place a smaller tarp over the larger one.
  6. Pull the corners together and up slightly.
  7. Put a clothespin at each corner to hold it together. This will create a sort of drip tray or liner with sides for any water run off.
  8. Find or purchase a large molded plastic child's swimming pool. Wal-Mart sells a 6 foot diameter pool for about $15. For classes larger than 12, you will need two pools.
  9. Drill small holes in the bottom, about 3 inches apart. This will allow the plants to breathe.
  10. Place the pool on the tarp drip tray.
  11. Ask for donations of potting soil. Dollar stores and discount stores often sell 10 pound bags for around a dollar or two.
  12. Fill the pool with a 5-6 inch layer of potting soil. About 100 pounds should be sufficient.
  13. Divide the surface according to the number of children. Use a basic pie shape.
  14. Section off plots for each child with sticks and string.
  15. Put two sticks across the diameter from each other and tie a string between them. Continue doing this to create 'pie slices' in the garden. Each 'pie slice' is a single child's plot.
  16. Plant seeds according to package directions. Consider depth, spacing and watering, as instructed on the seed packet.
  17. Select vegetable seeds so that children can sample their harvest. You can plant a variety of seeds from the different food categories:
    • Root vegetables: carrots.
    • Stem vegetables: celery.
    • Flower vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower.
    • Fruit vegetables: pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers.
    • Seed vegetables: corn, peanuts.
  18. Place some earthworms and snails in the soil to aerate it and keep it moist and healthy.
  19. Make simple gardening tools from recycled materials. One gallon milk jug will make a trowel, hoe or watering can. See my article below on making 8 gardening tools from recycled materials.
  20. Monitor plant activity and chart development. Each student should log plant activity in a Plant Journal. Depending upon the age of your students and their writing skills, ask them to record plant growth, plant development, plant structure, watering schedule, etc.
    1. Grades Pre-K-1: draw what you see as it appears. Label basic words: leaf, root, stem, flower, petal, shoot, bud, fruit, seed, etc.
    2. Grades 2-3: Draw plant parts. Label parts on a diagram using vocabulary. Write sentence descriptions.
    3. Grades 4-6: Measure and chart plant growth on a line graph. Make a timeline of plant development. Write paragraph describing what is happening.
  21. Follow with a complete plant unit. Check out the link below to my three part series on plant development. 
  22. Have a tasting party with the produce that is harvested!

Celebrate our earth and develop ecologically and environmentally conscious students with these ideas!

Marilisa Sachteleben is a special general education teacher, happily married wife and mother of four. She writes for several online communities. 

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