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April 2, 2013 Having Fun With Soil, Seeds, and Sun By Tiffani Mugurussa
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Spring is my favorite season to teach. I always plan way too many units, but somehow we manage to get through all of them. Last week we began learning about plants and what they need to survive. Surprisingly, many of my students have had some prior experience planting vegetable gardens, and all at least have eaten a vegetable.

    To begin, we brainstormed what plants need in order to grow and survive. I received the typical answers of "sun," "dirt," and "water," but my favorite answer was “people to take care of them.” The response made me chuckle as I have a black thumb when it comes to plants of any kind. To validate our brainstorming, I read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. We also made a chart on how to grow a plant.

    What fun is it to read and discuss plants if you're not going to plant a seed? A co-worker was kind enough to share her seed plant kit with our class, and we are attempting to grow sweet basil. Our goal is to be able to transfer it into pots in time for Mother’s Day. Planting our little seeds was a multi-step process that involved counting, measuring, timing, and active listening. The dirt pods are quite amazing; it's like watching a Chia Pet. After counting out two dirt pods and adding three tablespoons of water, we waited for four minutes before mixing the soil and adding our seeds. Currently, we are on Spring Break, so I brought our little plants home to be cared for by my husband, the gardener of our family. It has only been a week; hopefully we will see signs of life in the next few days.

    Literature Links

    As we wait for our basil to grow, we will continue to learn about different types of plants, particularly vegetables. We will be reading one of my all-time favorite books, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens. This clever trickster-tale teaches children about the different types of vegetables that grow above and below the ground. Later in the week, we will try our hand at vegetable stamping.


    Here are five of my favorite books for reading about plants:

    More Growing Options

    If you’re fortunate enough to have a classroom with windows, you can make a sprout house using construction paper and a clear plastic bag like the one at left. All you need are plastic bags, damp paper towels and lima beans. After cutting out the house, moisten a paper towel; place the lima bean in the towel and the towel in the plastic bag. Close the bag and attach it to the backside of the house, then tape the whole thing to the inside of your classroom window. The beans should begin to sprout roots and shoots within a few days.

    You can download a copy of my sprout house and labels for my Where Does the Food Grow?

    Bringing Plants to Life on the Big Stage

    Within the next few weeks, we will be practicing and performing a few plays from the books 25 Science Plays for Beginning Readers and Just-Right Plays: 25 Science Plays for Emergent Readers. We will be performing for our 3rd grade reading buddies.


    Displaying Our Work

    Because it is spring and Open House is soon, I want my students’ classwork and artwork to reflect what we are learning. We will be making a class plant quilt like the one below. The straw is to symbolize the stem. I tell my students that the stem drinks water and nutrients from the soil to feed the leaves and flowers.

    To make, each student will need:

    • 8- by 8-inch blue squares (use light blue and dark blue)
    • ½ of a clear straw
    • Colored paper for leaves and flower
    • 8- by 2.5-inch brown paper for dirt
    • Yarn for roots



    A few other items you might like are available from Scholastic Printables.

    As we move forward through spring, our classroom will continue to become alive with many different living things. What activities and units do you teach during the spring months in your classroom?


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Susan Cheyney