Thursday, May 8, 2014

Adventures in Gardening

We remember the bean plants last year, yes?  Feel free to refresh yourself at last year's drama.  

This little event was happening around the same time as my caterpillar catastrophe - aiyiyi - and I haven't even built myself up for another try with THOSE yet.  But anyhow- I gave the planting another go this year.

EVEN THOUGH this following e-card sums me up- more or less:

This year, I planted early and wove it in with my Native Americans unit.  We planted the THREE SISTERS- dun dun duuuuuunnnnnn!  Really, it should sound more impressive.  I did it indoors and had dirt everywhere.  I forced the kids to play with it before we planted as a sensory bin activity.  

"Haven't you ever played in dirt?"  
"Hogwash!  That just means you've never done it.  Get over here and feel this dirt!"  

Conversations like these are completely ludicrous when typed out- and yet, it totally makes sense when you're talking in your classroom.

We discussed soil and mulch and Miracle-Gro vs the Dollar Store bag (Which, honestly, came down a difference in one bag being full of little nutrient ball thingys and the other one having chopped up bark and rocks in it. But it was a DOLLAR dadgum!).  We mixed them together with our hands.  We washed afterwards and noticed how it didn't necessarily come off without a scrubbing effort.  Lots and LOTS of soap was used that day.

We read the back of seed packets, carefully packed soil into planters.  We punched holes exactly one inch deep. And we tried to measure out a suitable distance in between the seeds as well, using our Unifix cubes.  So handy and versatile!  And now, full of dirt.  *sigh*  But when else were they going to get the chance?  I really do hope a first grade teacher and I get a gardening club going next year.  Not that I should be in charge... but I can stir dirt!

Teamwork! Then we got out our class calendar and counted out the days to sprouting and marked it in red. So we could wait ever so not patiently.  I also told them how many days it would take until the plant would be mature- and then they had to do a team math problem solving to figure out what day of the year that should fall on for each of the three plants.  Would we be in school still?  Would we have to wait until the end of summer?

I just sound awesome, don't I?  Snarf. Ok- but, uh, I am ME, of course- so, I sort of had them plant the three sisters all together. In one little seed hole, together. It seemed like the right thing to do.  Three sisters, helping each other grow and all that- I mean- why not? Apparently, that ain't how it's done, kittens.  So we ended up with some of the plants sprouting, but also some of the plants strangling.... and some non-pop-uppers.  A mess of tangled roots.

Still though- what better way to teach the plant life-cycle than actually planting a seed and digging it up continuously to see why it isn't growing like it should?

I semi-rescued the situation by then being able to teach about how plants need space to survive, room to grow and all that.  Going back over the basic needs of any living thing.  One boy looks at me and says "Ms. Meek, I have three sisters, and I would NEVER want to share a room with them!"  AH, so very, very, wise. And 7 to 10 days too late, buddy!  Sheesh!   My mind is just goop.  That's all there is to it.

We did compare the three different sprouts to determine the type of plant that had come up. We knew beans would make a stalk- like in the fairy tale, so we decided the tallest ones were our beans.  Plus, we could see the seed casing on some of them, so that helped.  We also decided, based on looks, that the single strand sprout had to be the corn. AND we discovered that they have super long roots that go sideways when we transplanted them to untangle them and give them room to grow strong.  The other two plants had the normal sort of spidery hanging off the bottom sort of roots.  And this left our last sprout to be squash, and we were very pleased that it had fuzzy leaves and stems.  And then of course, another math tie in- we measured the heights of stems, the width of leaves, ordered them from tallest to shortest.  

It was in this tallest to shortest deal that we noticed that this actually went by planter box.  Why?  Why was one planter box full of lush vegetation and the other one stunted?  Back to the basic needs- space, water, sun, soil.  "You didn't water them right, Ms. Meek!"  Yeah?  Want to blame me do ya?  Luckily, one of my kids love me, "She watered them in front of us, and she watered them all the same!  You know that!" Take that! So there!  Incredibly lucky that I have the ability to keep some of my mental conversation inside my head (from time to time).  The kids decided on sun being the issue.  The tallest plants were in the planters that were on top of our window pyramid.  They decided I needed to rotate the boxes every day to let each planter get to sit on the top at least once a week. Aren't they smart cookies?

Eventually, the snowing stopped and we packed them all into some cereal bowls we'd been saving from school breakfasts and took three different plants home.  But- as always- this leads to a time of reflection.  How am I going to do it differently next year?

Well, Cheesy Pete, I probably shouldn't have the kids plant them all together in the same hole.  Although, I might just do that in one container so they can see what happens when you do.  Also, I liked those green planters and all, but I think planting them individually, pre-labeled with type of plant, is a time saver.  The kids enjoyed the transplanting process and all- but three times the dirt, kittens.  At least three times the dirt- indoors!  Heavens to Betsy!  And watching for the equal sun time thing.  Also an important factor to note.

But then again- I got to teach so much by doing it sooooo wrong.  It's a hard decision to make.  Be a disaster and have a rich lesson, or achieve teaching perfection?  I'll probably mess it up anyway.

Some of my moose reported plant disasters after they took them home, and we are planting more seeds for more sprouts to try to make up for the losses.  Also, some of the kids broke their stems, from just not realizing that plants are fragile.  City vs. Country rears its head again.

Of course, when I start thinking about next year already, other people are too.  The Ladies at Collaboration Cuties are having a giveaway for some school supplies by C Jayne Teach.  Some super cool stuff, I must say!  Head over there to check it out by clicking their button!

Collaboration Cuties

So, do you garden with your kids?  Do you do it indoors?  Do you also have a gray thumb?  Would you have put all three seeds together in one hole?  Or am I the only nutter that thought that would work?

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  1. I LOVE THIS POST. I might need to reread it a few times to get its full power. I suck at planting, really. But I'm going to try it as well.


  2. Wahoo! You also made ME re-read it and I found a million errors. I'm still reflecting. After re-reading, messing it up seems like the better lesson. But that's like the opposite of what we're meant to do...

  3. It's not the opposite of what we're supposed to do IF you let the KIDS mess it up! Then you'll still get maximum learning, on purpose! And next year you can brag about it.