Hey Everyone, well I don’t know where you are from, but where I’m from, we are finally getting some warm weather, and to see a beautiful Mr. Golden Sun. My kids have been begging to go outside every night this week, because it is so beautiful. After the icy, snowy, cold, dreary winter we’ve had I am not surprised. With the weather finally turning around, and Menards getting all their seeds in, I know it is a great time to get my Gardening theme under way.
This is one of those themes that you can carry through to the end of the year or at least a month. It is a good unit for a longer time frame because you have them working with seeds and other experiments which take a while to see the results. It is a great learning experience all the way around, even if some of the plants die, just make a few extras, you can always discuss why something did or didn’t work. It also promotes responsibility in the classroom, by having them to help water and care for the plants. I loved doing this theme, and the kids greatly enjoyed it. If you played your cards right, you might even have flowers to send home for mother’s day. Two birds one stone, I believe is the saying.
(This blog contains affiliate links. I may get a small commission on, if you would happen to click on the link and purchase something. I do not put anything in here that I haven’t used in my classroom, or with my own kids. Please just read and enjoy, and use them as resources.)
Need: Various vegetables pre-cut, paint, and paper.
This is a simple project that takes a variety of vegetables and cuts them different ways to create prints. For Instance, if you cut a pepper straight down the middle, it might look like a four leaf clover. A carrot you could make polka dots. You could also cut it length wise to make it look like a carrot. An onion could make rings. Apples could be used to make apple prints with stars in the middle. Celery makes awesome U shaped prints. Want to make Roses? Cut the bottom off of a celery stalk about three inches up. Stamp with it, it will make something that looks like roses.
Need: Potatoes, plastic knives, paint, paper
Another project you could do would be potatoe prints. This project would require a little more work on your behalf. If you have holder kids, you could give them a carving art project. They could carve the potatoes, and make potato stamps. C ut a potato in half length or width wise. Use plastic knives, or sharper knives, if you are doing it, to carve various shapes in the potatoes. Use stamp pads or covers with paint on, and let the kids stamp away.
Need: Paint, hands, paper, covers to put paint on.
Hand print tulips are a fun, simple project for kids.
- I simply take their hand and dip it in their favorite color paint.
- Having them keep their fingers tight together, I help them press their hand onto the paper.
- You can use more than one color. Fully rinse before changing colors. If you don’t rinse well, you might just end up with marbleized flowers.
- Next, you can have the kids dip their pointer finger into green paint and draw stems.
- To make the leaves, I have the student dip their thumb pads into the paint. You want them to put paint all the way up to the joint. Then press down next to the stem to make leaves. Try to have their thumb tip touching the stem to make sure the leaves are attached to the stem.
- If this seems like too much painting for your students, you can use pipe cleaners and glue for the stems. Then just add fake leaves . I find sometimes it is easier just to glue then to paint. I figure though, that if you already have paints out, why not just keep going.
Buggy Flower pots
Need: Clay pots, (small but big enough to plant something) acrylic paint, and fingers, plastic combs.
Since we will be planting in this unit, I found that a nice pot goes a long way. I find it especially useful if it’s close to Mother’s Day.
If you want something a little less messy, may I suggest, oriental trading. They have some cute coloring pots. Here is my favorite go to planter idea though.
- I give the kids a cover with a very small amount of red, yellow, black, and green paint.
- The first thing I have them do is dip a comb in green paint. Then use the comb to comb the bottom of the pot to create grass.
- Next, I have them use their finger tips to create bugs. I suggest bees, lady bugs, and ants. You can do any bugs that come up, even worms(even though they really aren’t bugs).
- Take time to discuss how bugs help the garden. I like to also talk about how some bugs can hurt your garden.
- To create back ground knowledge, I borrow a book or two from the library and read that before the project.
These journals to record observations are meant to show kids that even pictures relay information. In the same way our words aren’t there just to sound pretty but to give information.
Mrs. Spitzers Garden-a great book that compares a teacher with a gardener. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, is basically the life cycle of a seed. Planting a Rainbow, and Eating the Alphabet, are both books by Lois Ehlert. They both are great options if you are looking to talk about different plants in the garden. Lastly I like to do some informational books about gardening and what plants need. These I generally get from the library, or Scholastic makes some great simple books that are also very informational.
Need: a Root view, green onion seeds or bulbs, radish seeds, carrot seeds, bean seed.
I love this activity, because it lets the kids have x-ray vision. We get to see underground.
- I help the kids dump dirt into the root view.
- Next we plant the seeds, and water them.
- O,ver the next couple weeks we watch how the plants are doing, and watch for those roots to begin growing.
- This is a great time to also introduce science journals if you don’t already do something like that. Take a green piece of paper and about 5 pieces of white paper and fold them in half. Write a title on the front or print a fun cover for the kids in advance.
- Then what I have them do is draw what they see, on a sheet of paper in their journal. Drawings may be simple at first. A brown square, but eventually they will see the carrot, and the radish and white roots from the bean plant.
- I use beans because I want them to see that not every plant has a big thick root system. Some root systems are small and thin and spread all over the place, but they are still roots. This is a great time to introduce words like compare and contrast.
Beans in a Bag
Need: Bean seeds, plastic baggies, paper towels, and a spray bottle.
This particular project is probably not new, but it is a lot of fun, and reasonably cheap. This project is demonstrates the whole process of growing, from seed to sprout to full grown plant. You take one full size paper towel and fold it into fourths. A napkin will not work as well as paper towel. Napkins will not hold up to the water as well as a paper towel. Next, you put the seed in between the last two folds. Finally, spritz with water so the towel is damp but not soaking. At last, you can place the paper towel and seed into the plastic bag and zip it closed. Tape them to a window or door so they get plenty of sunlight. The plastic bag acts like a green house. It shouldn’t need watering. If you notice one is too wet, you may want to change their towel. Too wet can equal a drowning plant and mold. Once your seed is a plant, open the top of the bag slightly to let in oxygen. Now that you have opened the bag, you may have to water them more often. Once the plant has gotten big enough, you can take the plant and paper towel out to plant. You can do this because the paper towel is biodegradable. This project does take time. I have found that kids really enjoy this unit. This would be another observation that they could share in their science journals.
Stems are straws too:
Need: A glass of water, food coloring, and a celery stalk
I start out by introducing that we are going to be talking about the parts of plants and flowers. The first part we will be discussing is the stem. Then I show the celery stalk and ask who knows what this is? Then I explain that when we eat celery we are eating the stem of the celery plant.
- I explain that the stem is like a straw for the plant. The roots gather water.
- Then the stem sucks up the water and sends it to the parts of the plant.
- Now I show them all the little straws that are in the stem. I like to have the kids pick the color that they want to turn the celery stalk. Only one rule, I say is, it can’t be green or yellow. It wouldn’t show up.
- Finally, I have them add the food coloring to the water, the more the better. (Note: It might be good to do this early in the day. You should see results by the end of the day. If not, you should definitely see results by the next day. )
- The next step is easy, you wait.
Need; a white carnation, a knife, two glasses of water, and food coloring.
- For this project we discuss what the flowers are, and how some flowers turn into fruits and vegetables.
- Introduction: I ask how many kids have seen those flowers at the grocery store that are multiple colors? We are going to make our own.
- Then I split the stem down the middle. (Reminding them that the stem is the straw.) I put one end of the carnation in each of the two colored waters.
- Next, I ask them what they think will happen? I respond with we will have to wait and see.
- Again, this would be a great time to incorporate that science journal full of observations. You could have them guess what they think might happen. Will the flower stay white, or will it change colors? ( You could graph the predictions and post it by the flower. )
- The next morning, have them write in their journals what happened. Now you are teaching the standards of predictions and observations.
- Finally, put a second white carnation into plain water to observe and to compare the two flowers. Now they have learned the word standard.
While they are waiting for the carnations this might be a great time to eat their snack.
Need: Carrot, Potato, green onion, radish, bean sprouts with roots still attached.
This is more of a center, but I do introduce it during circle time one day. We talk about how roots are the things that feed the plant. They are also what holds the plant down and keeps it from blowing away in the wind. Then I pass around the items that I mentioned above. I let them feel them, see them, smell them, and even taste them. I always keep a extra in a separate location. If they want to explore them further with magnifying glasses later on, they can.
Learning about Leaves
Need: various kinds of leaves, magnifying glasses, crayons(with no wrappers) copy paper, and scotch tape.
- First I put out a bunch of leaves on a table and give the kids a chance to explore them. Make sure you have extras that aren’t out yet, because you will need them with the corresponding project.
- Then you ask what part of the plant is this? Hopefully they say leaves.
- Next, I ask what is the job of a leaf? varying answers will probably come.
- I explain to them that leaves are like our arms. They reach out to grab food like our hands reach out and grab food to feed us.
- I explain don’t move, but they don’t need to. They absorb the sunlight which the leaves turn into food.
- If they ask you can say it’s a process called photosynthesis(a big funny word).
- I liked to show a video to help explain. I have provided a link to an awesome video I used if you click on the blue word video.
- After the video I have them tape down three to four leaves on the table. This is so that the leaves don’t move on them during the project.
- Then I have them put their paper down on top of the leaves.
- I demonstrated how to use the side of the crayon over the paper to create leaf rubbings.
- After they have done a few, I ask what the funny lines are we are seeing.
- I explain that those are the leaf veins. The leaf veins are what help food and water gets around the plant tips.
Parts of a plant art project:
Need: green straws, brown yarn, cupcake liners (bright colors), seeds, (I pick bigger ones like sunflower seeds easier to identify, light blue paper, brown markers green finger paint and fingers.
- First I have them glue on the cupcake liner
- Glue on the label for the flower
- Next I have them glue the seeds on and glue the label for seeds on. Then we add the green straw as the stem and label it stem. Lastly, I have them glue the yarn on and label it roots. Then I have them use the brown marker to draw in the dirt.
- We discuss how only the roots are under the dirt. Other wise the flowers wouldn’t get sunlight. Then the plants would die.
- Lastly, I have them add leaves by dipping their finger tips into green paint and making finger print leaves.
Take a field trip to a Garden center, farm or maybe a botanical garden. Have a discussion about what do gardens give us. Fruit, and vegetables, grains, and flowers. They also help give us oxygen and the big ones (trees) give us shade. They also provide beauty in God’s world. You may be able to find a community garden that you could go visit. You could see if it would be possible to help take care of it for a day. Then discuss that this garden helps people have food, that maybe wouldn’t have had other wise.
Another field trip option would be the farmers market. They can see a variety of things that come from gardens. They could even talk to local farmers and ask questions about their produce.
It takes a lot of work to make a garden and to keep it up. If you have a summer program, you could create a class garden that the whole group takes care of. Then you could make something out of the bounty at the end of the unit. Some suggestions were a salad garden, or a spaghetti sauce garden. A spaghetti sauce garden would grow tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, onions, and maybe peppers or mushrooms. They really like working together especially watering and taking care of it.
Taking care of our Earth
For this particular subject we talk about recycling, and not littering. We talk about ways to protect wildlife by cutting milk rings or plastic soda connectors. We really focus on sorting things for recycling. You might also want to take a trip to a recycling plant. I didn’t have one near us, but definitely was something I wish I could have done. Maybe I will get a chance some day.
Counting out seeds in pots
Need: Small pots, seeds, and foam stick on numbers.
I stick the numbers on the pots to decorate them, one per pot. Then I ask them to count out the seeds each pot needs in order to grow big and strong. For this game I like using pumpkin seeds because they are bigger, and easier to work with. Dried beans also work, and are pretty inexpensive.
Graphing Favorite Vegetables:
Need: large graphing chart or pocket chart, note cards cut in half, or a white board and sticky notes.
I write the numbers on the chart on the left hand side. Then I ask what are some of the favorite vegetables in here, I cut out a few ones like carrots, lettuce, peas, radish, onions, celery, and others that I might know just from what my kids have eaten this year. Then I ask them to come up take a sticky note (I write their name on quick) and let them put it above their favorite vegetable. This allows them to fully participate in the voting/ graphing experience.
After they have finished graphing, I have the kids count with me each row, and we writ the number on top and compare the numbers we counted to the numbers on the side. Then we discuss which has the most, the least, and we talk about any that might be the same. Some I have found don’t even get a vote, and I take this great opportunity to talk about what Zero really means.
The story of the Sower and the Seeds
This is the parable found in Matthew 13:1-23.
This is the parable Jesus tells that is about a farmer who sows seeds. Some end up on the path and die from the sun right away. Others end up on Rocky soil, where they take root, but as soon as a big wind comes or a scorching heat they die out. Some of the seeds end up by the weeds, and become nice and strong at first, but then are choked out by the weeds later. Finally, some seeds ended up on the good soil and took root and kept getting fed and nourished by being deeply rooted that they thrived and produced fruit. Each one of these represented different types of believers.
The first are those believers who hear the word, but don’t understand it, the devil comes and swoops them up and they fall away. The rocky soil ones, are believers who hear the word of God, they grow great at first, but since they have no root, they stop believing and fall away as soon as trials come their way. The seed that is among the weeds, are believers who believe and produce fruit, but soon the worries of this life and the problems choke out the faith, and the person falls away. Finally, the seed that falls on good soil, are those who believe and understand God’s Word and helps to spread the word, or produce a crop. ( This is a summary that Jesus gave in Matthew 13:18-21.)
Dig in my Garden
Come, Come Dig in my Garden, Come, Come, dig in my garden, Come, come dig in my garden, dig in my garden with me.
Come, Come, plant the seeds, come, come, plant the seeds, come, come, plant the seeds, plant the seeds with me.
Come, come, water the seeds, come, come, water the seeds, come, come, water the seeds, water the seeds with me.
Come, come watch them grow, come, come, watch them grow, come, come watch them grow, watch them grow with me.
Come, come, pick our food, come, come, pick our food, come, come, pick our food, pick our food with me.
I’m a little Seed (I’m a little tea pot)
I’m a little seed planted in the ground, here I hide and grow inside, darkness all around.
I’m a little sprout, reaching to the sky, using sun and water to grow nice and high.
I’m a little plant, nice and tall, my roots are growing deep, and my seeds are small.
I’m a little flower growing on the top, petals all around me, that I soon will drop.
Then my seeds will will slowly, tumble to the ground, and my baby flowers, will be growing all around.
I put hats, gardening gloves, trowels, shovels, big watering cans, a pretend hose (one that has a hole and won’t work any more will be fine) aprons, pots (plastic for safety) Sand buckets make great pretend pots, fake flowers, and empty seed packs, to plant pretend seeds. Rakes and kneeling pads are also great additions.
Dried Coffee Grounds:
After you have had a lot of coffee, or know someone who does, take those coffee grounds and dry them out. (Sometimes Starbucks or other coffee serving companies, will save their left over grounds for you if you ask nicely. They like it because it’s recycling) Coffee grounds make great dirt in the sensory box. Add a few flower pots, gloves, fake flowers, watering cans, shovels, and other gardening tools, and you have a fun fake garden in your sensory box. Also you can use the coffee grounds in with the plants to help feed the plants. It is kind of like your own compost as well.
Sorting Fruits and vegetables:
Need: Hula Hoops, and plastic Fruits and vegetables.
I place all the fruits and vegetables in a hula hoop in the middle. Then I divide the class into two groups of about 4 to 5 students. Each group gets two hula hoops, a green one and a red one. Then I have them run and grab a food, and place it in either their green hula hoop for vegetables, or their red hula hoop for fruits. This works on sorting for math and physical education. After they have grabbed one, then you can have them skip out and get a food and bring it back to the right hoop.
I like to get Green painters tape or electrical tape, any kind of tape that is green that is easy to get off. Then I make paper plate flowers, these are more just for decoration. We practice balance by walking on the stems of the flowers. The stems being the tape on the floor. I do a straight line, then a zig zag and finally a curvy stem. I teach them how to put one foot right in front of the other and use their arms to balance. They usually enjoy this activity and sometimes, if I put it in the room on the floor, you can even use a straight stem as line up tool to help your kids line up in the classroom.
Snacks: Eating the parts of Plants
I explain to the kids that we eat parts of plants all the time. We are going to eat all the parts of a plant today. I hand out broccoli for the flower, celery for the stem, carrots for the roots, and lettuce for the leaves.
Menards gives great tours, otherwise any green house will suffice. If you ask them if they offer any special tours or projects, sometimes they may even let you plant some plants there or bring some plants back to school to plant in a classroom garden, or to plant in the just buggy pots for mother’s day.
Gardener from Community or Church
Finding someone in your community or church who is an avid gardener would be an awesome addition to the week. I personally am a horrible gardener, I am getting better but still not a lot of success. That is why I always chose my pastor or another member to come speak. I found that many elders in the church, or grandparents, seemed to like gardening and it gave the kids a chance to make connections with another age group and to learn from them too.
I always enjoyed doing this unit. The kids really enjoyed getting dirty. I loved it, because I could make it correspond with a mother’s day unit. This would allow me to have flowers to send home as gifts for the moms. I would often have students running home, trying to convince their parents that they want a garden now. What a great school to home connection. You could also use this unit, as a summer course, and create a class garden that they help to weed and take care of all summer. Then As a conclusion to the unit, you could have a mini fund raiser by selling the fruits and vegetables to the parents. Great way to get student involvement. Even big kids like to work in the garden. I hope you have enjoyed my post, if you have any ideas you would like to share, I love trying new things. Hope you have fun getting dirty in the garden unit too.