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Posts Tagged ‘dirt’

The garden here at Brooklyn Children's Museum

Last week and this week we’re talking about ideas for incorporating gardening into your classroom… why should you be interested? What a great question! Here are some reasons you might teach gardening in your classroom:

  • Gardens link to your science curriculum. Whether you’re studying trees throughout the seasons (K), weather and seasons (1st), plant diversity (2nd), plant and animal adaptations (3rd), animals and plants in their environment (4th), food and nutrition (5th), the scientific method, or something else entirely, students learn from watching plants grow and helping them grow.
  • Gardens can link to other curriculum as well, providing (for example) a great excuse for an art project a real-life context for mathematics. Don’t believe that you can teach math in the garden? Check out this resource from UC Berkeley.
  • The odds are that your school no longer has an explicit health curriculum and nutrition doesn’t really show up in the NYC science curriculum until 5th grade. Learning about gardens and eating the food they provide will help students make healthy choices. According to an expert at the University of Hawai’i, “Nationally, slightly more than 51 percent of children eat one serving of fruits a day and 29 percent eat less than one serving a day of vegetables that are not fried.
  • In particular, kids need opportunities to try fruits and vegetables many times before they will choose to eat them. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one way to get kids more interested in these key nutritional products. Fruits and vegetables taste best when they are straight from your own garden!
  • Gardening is a job skill and a life skill. So is cooking. And even if your students don’t grow up to be professional gardeners or chefs, they could raise their own fruits and vegetables at home to save money on produce.
  • Gardening teaches soft skills like perseverance and patience. Students see that their hard work has a pay-off, which is an important realization.
  • Most little kids love dirt and digging in it anyway!

Don’t believe us? According to Grow to Learn NYC‘s website, starting a school garden has the following results: gardening changes eating habits, improves test scores, connects children to the environment, fights childhood obesity, promotes physical activity, and changes attitudes toward learning.

Are you ready? If this inspires you, here are some suggestions to get your school garden started.

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Your students already know about decomposition and what compost is. You know about opportunities in New York City for teachers to learn about how to compost with students. Now, you are interested in finding kid-friendly compost resources. Great! We can help with that. Here are some kid-friendly composting books to help answer your students’ questions and get them involved in the science of composting:

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals: this rhyming book is a recipe for what to mix into your compost pile. Kids will join in with the refrain, “Just add to the pot / and let it all rot / into Compost Stew.”

Garbage Helps Our Compost Grow by Linda Glaser: using photographs, the story of a family that uses compost in their garden. Features common compost questions at the end, making this a kids’ compost “manual.”

Compost Critters by Bianca Lavies:  the text is written for upper elementary students (grades 3-5), but the photographs make this book accessible to any age. Lavies documents in detail the animals that help her compost pile decompose into rich soil and the wonderful plants she’s able to grow with such excellent soil. This book presents the full cycle of compost into detail.

Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial: written for older students (grades 3-5), this book photographs in extensive detail all the stuff that’s in dirt. The book will fascinate students and completely change their perspective on soil.

What other great, kid-friendly composting books would you recommend?

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