Plant Progression

We are very excited to share that our plants have all begun to grow! The children are so eager to check on the growth of our plants every day, so we created a system to track the growth. The children enjoy the daily process of caring for the plants and especially love being able to see the tangible results of their hard work in the form of measurable plant growth.

We begin every morning by watering the plants and measuring the growth of each one. As a means of tracking the growth, the children draw a picture every week that represents the changes that they observe in the sprouts. We have these pictures displayed on the wall for the children to look back on, resembling a timeline! After watering the plants and drawing our observations, the students take the plants outside to get some sun.

This ongoing plant care process has been a valuable experience for our students for quite a few reasons. It has given them an opportunity to learn how to initiate and maintain a healthy daily habit. By caring for the plants each day, they have learned how their actions can impact the world around them. The daily care and measurements have allowed them to better grasp the concept of cause and effect. The positive results (plant growth) have reinforced their positive behaviors (diligently caring for the plants).

The recording of plant growth through drawing is important because it gives the children an opportunity to document their observations in a unique way, expressing creativity, exercising the imagination, and carefully thinking through their observations of the plant characteristics. Working with the drawing utensils builds on their fine motor skills. Using art to document information leaves the students with a record of what they learned that is useful for future comparisons and a lot more fun to look at than numbers on a page.

We are going to continue to care for and document the growth of our plants. Feel free to come check out our timeline in the classroom!

The growth progress of our plants – Roots

Our students have been participating in an ongoing study of plants. Our outdoor garden has been a great source of interest for the students, especially the eggplants that are growing. These purple veggies have been the choice of study in Think Tank.

This plant exploration has introduced the children to a variety of plants that several of them have never encountered before, such as leeks. It has also helped them understand how plants grow, as well as the physical attributes of each plant such as shape and size. Children discussed the science behind flowers/plants and have observed the growth process of the leeks, carrot tops and eggplant seeds.

During the observation, the class noticed that the leeks had roots growing, while the eggplant seeds did not. Several of the students formed hypotheses to help explain why the plants might differ in such a way. One student mentioned it takes time for the eggplant to grow. Two other students also noted that the seeds do not have roots because they grow on trees.

The class expressed their observations through an artistic medium, creating a drawing with sharpies showing the growth process of the roots. While they were drawing some conversed. “The roots are at the bottom” and “the roots are sucking out the water to grow.”

The class was introduced to the word Sprout:  \ˈsprau̇t\ to grow, spring up, or come forth as or as if a sprout (Merriam-webster). We asked the class, “What does it mean to sprout?” Some of the responses were:

·       “Sprout means that flowers are growing”

·       “Sprouting means that the leek is growing a new plant”

·       “Sprouting means growing”

This plant exploration has been packed with variety of learning elements, making it a very valuable experience. Earth and Life Sciences were incorporated as the students studied the physical attributes, growth processes and natural environments of plants. Understanding scientific processes and using comparisons and observations about items to draw conclusions are all important scientific skills for children to master in order to have more meaningful learning experiences and interactions with the world around them.

We incorporated literacy into this exploration by working on our writing skills. The children created sentences with the new words introduced such as sprout and soil. Writing, along with drawing, build upon fine motor skills and are both great tools for children to express their personal thoughts and ideas.

The class was able to further their exploration by going outside, and as a group they were able to identify each plant. Working together to identify the plants and sharing their different opinions and explanations with one another allowed the children to foster positive relationships, build upon their interpersonal communication skills and participate in team building.

The exploration built upon foundational aspects of cognitive development. The children obtained a greater understanding of cause-and-effect as they observed the relationship between caring for the garden and the growth of the plants. In discussing reasons why one plant might have different properties and growing processes from another, the children practiced problem solving. They built upon their classification and memory skills by noting different plant’s attributes and using their knowledge about each type to identify the plants in the garden.

We will continue to observe the growth process of our plants in class.

Planting peppers, peas, and squash (Science)

The children have been very excited to help Mrs. Maryam garden outside any chance they get, so we decided to bring some gardening into the classroom! As a part of this indoor gardening endeavor, we planted squash, peas and sweet red bell pepper.

We started off our gardening process by asking the children “What do these seeds need to grow?” The children responded with water, dirt, sun and air. These responses show that the children are taking their prior knowledge about plants, obtained from working in the outdoor garden, and applying it to their new indoor garden.

After our discussion the children began to talk amongst themselves to figure out how much soil they would need. The children used their problem solving, communication and teamwork skills to cooperate with one another and come up with a solution to their soil question. They agreed that they “needed to fill the hole all the way so the seed doesn’t fall out.”

The children then worked together to fill the holes, and put one seed in every spot. Along with this great display of teamwork, the children built their fine motor skills. Handling and planting the little seeds into the soil served as a workout for their hand muscles, increasing coordination and accuracy.

In creating the garden, the children practiced mathematical skills through tasks like measuring the soil. Also, taking care of the indoor garden will require the children to work together to meet the daily needs of the plants. In doing so, they will establish new habits and learn the importance of building routines. Having an indoor garden will also allow the children to more closely examine the plant growth process, make observations and hypotheses about each plant’s progress and practice other important scientific skills.

Having this kind of fun and interesting encounter with plants furthers the children’s understanding and passion for nature, which will establish a sense of environmental responsibility and appreciation. We will check on the progress of the plants every week, and continue to water them daily.

Science: Checking on the progress of our seeds through magnifying glasses

We are very excited to share that our seeds are beginning to sprout! This week we wanted to check on the progress of our seeds, so we brought out magnifying glasses to take a closer look.   

Each child had the opportunity to closely examine a seed. They were extremely excited to see what has begun to sprout out of our seeds. Here are a few of the children’s thoughts about what they saw during their close up encounter: 

- “The steam is coming out of the seed”

- “Those are roots”

- “The roots are for getting the water”

- “After the roots come, the leaves all come”

After everyone got the chance to see the sprouting of the seeds, we all sat down and discussed what we saw. The children primarily focused on the shape and the texture of what they viewed, revealing an interest and understanding of basic geometric and sensory concepts.

One of the children described their experience with the magnifying glass, saying, “When I bring it really close to my eye I can see the stem, and the leaves inside of the seeds.” This group conversation built upon the children’s interpersonal skills and provided positive reinforcement of personal ideas.

At the end of the discussion the children sat and documented their observations by drawing a picture of what they saw. Putting their observations down on paper allowed the children to work on fine motor skills. It also allowed them to engage in mimicking and modeling, which are both important ways in which children learn about the world around them. Drawing what they saw required a great amount of attention to detail and careful observation, while also allowing each child to express his or her personal perspective of the experience. 

This exploration introduced the children to a new and very cool tool: a magnifying glass. More importantly, it introduced them to a brand new side of the plant that they would not have seen otherwise. The children were able to get up close and personal with an important aspect of the plant growing process, while engaging their sense of sight in an exciting way.

Understanding the science behind plant growth evokes an interest in and appreciation of the natural world, showing children that the environment is an exciting place that should be cared for. By caring for the plants daily, the children have obtained a sense of responsibility. Getting to see the positive results of their actions first hand is very rewarding and comes with a great sense of accomplishment.

Discovering new ways to water our plants

The children have been very eager to water our classroom plants! Every morning we put the plants down on a table, along with various cups, bowls and jars for the students to water with. 

 

When we first began the daily watering routine, the children discussed amongst themselves how much water they felt the plant would need. They said things like: 

·       “Not too much (water) because then the plants can’t breathe”

·       “Too much water will make the seeds move around”

·       “The dirt has to be wet for the seed to get water”

 

They concluded their discussion, agreeing that we only need to moisten the dirt enough for the seed to get the proper amount of water.

 

Group input was also involved in the physical watering of the plants. Using such large cups to try and water the plants seemed to become a challenge for the children. They were constantly spilling the contents of their cup or jar all over the table. After spilling many cups of water, the children began to ask each other what they could do to stop the spilling. 

 

As a result, we decided to introduce different cups with different sized holes at the top, spoons, straws and droppers to the children. We gave them the opportunity to test them all, allowing them to decide which watering tools would best reduce the amount of spilling. So far the children have enjoyed using the droppers the most, and are most excited to not have a single spill since we started with the droppers! 

This experience allowed for a great deal of student initiated exploration and group discussion, which is very important in our philosophy. The discussion that the children conducted allowed them to practice conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. In sharing their opinions, the children gained a sense of self-confidence and learned to value the input of their peers and work as a team.

Having the opportunity to decide on their own which watering tool would be the best gave the children a sense of ownership over the daily task. It also encourages independence and self-expression while meeting each child’s individual needs regarding fine motor skills.

Along with practicing communication skills, the children were also encouraged to put some of their scientific knowledge to use. They used aspects of the scientific method as they made observations and formed hypotheses regarding the plants, and learned about the plant growth process. 

Primary colors with flowers and counting

Every week H-E-B donates their expired flowers to our program, and our children are able to continue their explorations based on what we receive. Lately, we have been observing primary colors (red, yellow and blue) in the petals of our flowers, which inspired us to carry out a color study using paint and other materials in class.

 

The children removed the petals from the flowers, counting each petal as it was pulled. This process incorporated a valuable little math lesson into our color study. We placed the petals onto our light table to get a better look. Here, the children were able to use their observational skills to make note of the variety of colors and shades that naturally occur in each flower.

 

In our color study, we are also exploring states of matter and physical changes. We asked the class what would happen if we added hot water to the flower petals.  

 

Some of their answers included:

·      “It will melt the petals!”  (This child was applying her knowledge of a common reaction that takes place when things encounter heat to form her prediction.)

·      “It will change the water.” (This child was explaining that petals mixed with hot water will change the color of the water.)

 

The class noticed that adding petals to hot water creates watercolor. The color change was not the only exciting discovery. The concoction also gave off a new aroma that the children were able to observe. Their descriptions of what happened were:

·      “If we mix all colors it makes a rainbow.”

·      “It smells like licorice!” (This child was describing the smell of the water after adding flower petals.)

·      “It looks like nothing.” (This child was noticing the delay in color showing up in the water after mixing.)

·      “Yellow made green and purple made green.” (This child noticed that the colors of the petals weren’t the same as the color of the water when they were mixed.)

 

We asked the class what are primary colors? The class identified primary colors as yellow, red and blue.  The children conversed about mixing colors and mentioned: 

·       “Blue and yellow make green”

·       “Yellow and red make orange”

·      Blue and red make purple”

 

The class used the watercolor they created (with the flower petals) to paint their hand drawn illustrations of the flower they observed. This artistic aspect served as a nice culmination of our study, providing the children with an opportunity to express their observations and newfound knowledge of flowers and colors.

 

This experience allowed the children to continue their learning about primary colors through sensory exploration (sight, touch, smell, etc.). By mixing the colors, they had the opportunity to practice key aspects of the scientific method such as making predictions and noting cause and effect. Through their hands-on investigation of color, the children were able to see how their actions can create change.

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From a mathematical perspective, the children’s interactions with the flowers and petals instilled number recognition, sequencing, number sense and one-to-one correspondence. The entire experience encouraged team building and enhanced social skills as the children worked together physically and verbally to make the watercolor and discuss their hypotheses and observations.

 

Paint is a material that we use regularly in the classroom. Through this experience, the children discovered a new way to recycle our old flowers into a fun material that they appreciate. Learning that something old or used can be reused to create something new and valuable, heightens the children’s understanding of sustainability and environmental responsibility.