Anyone who has seen kids interacting with nature KNOWS that there is no need to convince children to pay attention - they are already interested in any opportunity to touch, smell, taste & observe the natural world. Indoor gardening is a way for kids to experience nature every season of the year regardless of outdoor space & weather. We gathered 18 subjects that you can teach with and about nature using indoor gardens.
BONUS: We also included a list of relevant common core standards, as well as suggestions for how the EverySeason Garden supports educational indoor gardening.
18 Subjects To Teach With & About Nature
1. RESPONSIBILITY - Observing and caring for another living thing instills responsibility and respect for life, the environment and routines. Try personifying the plant's reactions of gratitude ("The plant is thankful that you trimmed the leaves") or relief ("The plant was really thirsty, she is relieved you helped!)
2. CONFIDENCE - Eating food that you grew yourself and can share with others creates confidence in a child's ability to create and contribute. At KnowingNature we are totally biased and think microgreens are the best edible to grow with children (scroll down for a list of why) but the same applies for all edibles.
3. INCLUSIVENESS - No two plants are exactly alike. In nature there is a diversity of living things that in every way support and compete with each other, and every single one of those living things is valuable. Even competition, which may seem like a negative at first, is in fact a good thing because it continually challenges each system and creature to improve itself. In a single plant or garden, there are different plants, insects, bacteria & funghi that each need each other to survive.
4. CALM - Seeing and touching plants is soothing to the mind, body & soul. Ask children to do something hands-on with the plants such as planting, trimming old leaves, moving the leaves with their hands or blowing on it (to mimic the kinds of wind and touch that plants experience outdoors), wipe dust off leaves, and water the plant. If you are growing microgreens, they can spin the plant daily so it doesn't lean too much towards any one side, as well as harvest and eat the greens after 10 days.
5. WEIGH - Moist soil is heavier than dry soil. Keep track of changes in weight throughout the week, before and after watering.
6. MEASURE - Measure the sides of plant using various scales (e.g., millimeters, centimeters, inches) and various media (e.g., blocks, crayon lengths, bottle caps).
7. COUNT - Count larger seeds like sunflower seeds and pea seeds, count the number of leaves or the number of stems.
8. COMPARE - Big vs. small seeds/leaves. Tall vs. short plants/stems. Heavy vs. lightweight planters.
9. FINE MOTOR SKILLS - Planting and caring for plants, and harvesting microgreens, uses the small muscles in the hands, hand-eye coordination, sensory input, and tools for writing and cutting.
10. GROSS MOTOR SKILLS - Moving planters along a windowsill, carrying planters around the classroom and carrying water to a planter engages spatial awareness, coordination and balance while moving.
11. COGNITIVE SKILLS - Caring for plants engages observation skills, curiosity, attention span, cause and effect and sequencing of events.
12. CENTER TIME & CLASSROOM HELPER - Planting 2 or 3 plants or gardens of microgreens makes a great center time activity for children to get their hands dirty in a safe way. The "plant helper" can be in charge of watering, petting the plants, turning the planters around when the plants lean to one side, or carrying the planter to and from an activity.
13. NATURE THEMES (EARLY CHILDHOOD) - What do seeds do? What is soil made of? What plants need to grow? What makes plants healthy and unhealthy? Living vs. non-living things? Plants vs. trees? Vegetables vs. fruit?
14. NATURE THEMES (GRADE SCHOOL) - Photosynthesis. Seed dispersal. Monocotyledon plants (such as our wheatgrass) vs. dicotyledon plants (such as our speckled pea shoots or daikon radish). Root structure and growth. Components of soil.
15. MATH - Volume vs. area. Keep track and calculate how much water the plant needs per square foot. If growing microgreens, calculate how much crop/greens are produced per square foot.
16. SPELLING - Study the spelling of words that kids say, hear, see and use throughout their gardening experience.
17. NUTRITION - Explore the nutrition content of the edibles kids are growing versus other foods in their diet.
18. EXPERIMENT - Design science experiments using two or more plants. Explore and experiment with various aspects of their environment, such as the amount of light, the color of light, temperature, vibrations, watering with various substances, and many more ideas.
How EverySeason Gardening Supports Teaching About Nature
KnowingNature believes that educators and schools are the most important institutions in our society because they shape the values of the future, and that includes how our children will care the environment. For that reason we designed The EverySeason Garden so that teachers can teach with and about nature as often as they would like and whenever works for their curriculum. Features of the EverySeason Garden that support learning include:
FUN. Real gardening year round. It is the experience we all love, available every month of the year. NO high tech, grow lights, peat pellets or gels.
EASY TO USE. For all ages, experiences & abilities (even the "I-kill-plants" types). All you need is a windowsill & water, we provide everything else.
STORES EASY. When not in use, the planters make durable & attractive holders for all kinds of classroom materials, or can be stacked & stored efficiently until the next planting.
OPEN-ENDED. Use it for fun, for food, for learning, for exploring or for calm. It's there to meet YOUR classroom needs. See relevant Common Core Standards below.
INTERACTIVE. Because we all learn from doing, our gardens are designed to be an interactive experience from start to finish, and everything is specially designed to be easy to use, durable and (almost) mess free. Students smell, see and touch the soil and plants, harvest and eat the greens, and can even pull up and explore the roots.
FAST RESULTS. Kids stay engaged with fast growth - most gardens are ready to eat in just 7-10 days.
SAFE. Our planter is BPA free, pthalate free & made of FDA certified food safe plastic. Our seeds are organic & Non-GMO. Our soil is fertilizer free, pesticide free, manure free and sustainably sourced.
THERE WHEN YOU NEED IT. Get soil & seed refills delivered to you when you need them, or schedule deliveries in advance. No lifting and storing giant soil bags and seeds going bad or attracting pests in a closet.
Relevant PREK - 3 CORE STANDARDS
- SCI (P) Observe, collect, describe and record information about plants and animals.
- K-LS1-1. Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
- K-ESS3-1. Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
- 1-LS1-1. Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow and meet their needs.
- 1-LS3-1. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
- 2-LS2-2. Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
- 2-LS4-1. Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
- 3-LS3-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
- 3-LS1-1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
- 3-LS3-2. Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.