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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

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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Listen up preschool providers and day care centers: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an amazing curriculum called Grow It, Try It, Like It! designed to teach kids aged 3-5 about gardening, food, and nutrition.

The guide starts with comprehensive background information for the educator. Then, there are 6 sections, each devoted to a different fruit or vegetable: crookneck squash, spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe, peach, and strawberry. If you did every activity in each booklet, you would have enough material for 120 days of class! Or, you could pick and choose from the booklets to create a month-long focus on fruits and vegetables.

The booklets all start with hand-washing, include book suggestions, ideas for arts and crafts, science activities, snack ideas, and more. Students get color illustrations of each fruit and vegetable and can also color their own to make a garden map. This really is an incredible resource. If you work with early childhood and are looking for a food resource, this is one to start with! Check it out: Grow It, Try It, Like It!

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So, why all these recent posts about composting? Here are some reasons you might teach about decay or compost in your classroom:

  • Study of decay is great for the scientific method. Get students to ask what will happen and why, then observe, and record. Try out different decay conditions – how is decomposition affected by light, water, air?
  • It links to your science curriculum. In New York City, you could teach about decay in the context of seasonal trees (kindergarten), worm anatomy (1st grade), soil (2nd grade), plant and animal adaptations (3rd grade), etc…
  • Proper compost is used to grow new food. Teaching about compost and its role in agriculture supplements study of nutrition and gets kids involved in their food production, which in turn helps them eat healthier.
  • It prepares students to be act sustainably. Recycling is dandy, but is not the full solution to waste management. Compost eliminates organic waste from landfills, reducing their volume, and at the same time provides a free fertilizer for soil. Compost is thus a great use of resources.

These are some reasons to teach about compost. What would you add?

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