Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Healthy Party Treats

One of kid's favorite rewards is a party in their classroom. Many teachers reward their students with pizza or popcorn parties, but there are healthier (and tasty) party treat ideas available. Visit the Fresh for Kids website to find out some interesting and simple party treats!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tricking Mother Nature

It seems gardeners are always looking for ways to outsmart Mother Nature and begin the growing process before it would naturally occur. Cold frames are a great option for extending the growing season, but one garden in California has gone a step further. Love Apple Farm has begun using soil heating cables that heat the area around plants to extend the growing season!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Plants have History

There are so many historical facts and stories that relate to gardening, fruits, and vegetables. It’s very easy and fun to incorporate these stories into your history lesson plans. Visit the Kids Gardening website at Kids Gardening to learn some interesting veggie history. Here are a few snippets of information from their website:

~By the time Columbus landed in the New World, corn had already been cultivated by indigenous people for more than 3,000 years.

~Pilgrims considered tomatoes an abomination on a par with dancing, card playing, and theater going.

~Onion juice in Elizabethan times was used to treat a range of ailments, from baldness to hemorrhoids.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Got Dirt!

http://bit.ly/h4WQrV


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Food Miles

Here are some great activities compiled by Falls Brook Centre, a sustainable community education center, located in New Brunswick, Canada.

These activities teach your students about where their food comes from and the importance of a healthy diet. All of the activities can be altered for your geographic area.

http://bit.ly/h3mc47

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fed Up With Lunch

For the past year, a teacher has sat down and ate the school lunch with students to experience the nutritional (or lack of) value of their lunches. Read about her journey on her blog at Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project for some interesting insights.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ESL Activities

Working with ESL students and don't know how to coordinate vegetables into their lessons? Click on the link below to find some great ideas on the topic!

http://bit.ly/9qGCdi

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gardening in Alaska

We often think Wisconsin's short growing season is difficult to work with, but can you imagine trying to grow a garden in Alaska? Well, it's very possible. There's a great program developing in Alaska called the Schoolyard Garden Initiative. Consider contacting some of the schools that participate in this program to teach your students about different types of gardens and growing seasons!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worms Everywhere!

You can start your very own vermicompost in your classroom! All you need is a bin, some newspaper, food scraps, and worms. It’s a fun exercise that can help your garden grow when spring rolls around.

Materials:
1) One pound red worms
2) Wooden or plastic bin
3) Newspaper
4) Food scraps

Activity:
1) Shred the newspaper and place it in the bin.
2) Add food scraps.
3) Evenly moisten the newspaper by sprinkling water over the bin.
4) Add the worms.

Notes:
1) The bin will need a lid with holes poked in it so the worms can stay moist and dim and still get oxygen.
2) Drill drain holes in the bottom of the bin and place a tray beneath it. Worms create a nutrient rich moisture as they process the food. This can be captured and fed to plants in the classroom.
3) Worms need to be fed regularly but not overfed because food they don’t eat will rot in the bin. They also need to be checked regularly to make sure that they are not dry. Every few days should be sufficient.

For more information on vermi-composting, visit http://bit.ly/J3iH7

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pizza Themed Herbs

Growing herbs is so easy, even in winter! Simply start with a pot or window box, as well as some basil, thyme, and oregano plants.

Materials:
1) Assortment of herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano
2) Window box or flower pot
3) Gravel
4) Potting soil

Procedure:
1) Have students fill the bottom of the container with pebbles or gravel. This will help the soil drain so that the plants never sit in standing water.

2) Next, have them cover the gravel with several inches of potting soil. Getting a little messy is half the fun!

3) Show them how to slip the plants out of their pots. Help them scoop a hollow into the soil in the planter and then add the plants one at a time. Explain that the plants you'll grow are not only edible, but are actually the herbs that taste best on pizza!

4) After all of the plants are in the pot or planter, fill in any gaps between the plants with additional potting soil.

5) Finally, have them put the planter in a bright location. If possible, herbs like several hours of direct sun per day.

6) Encourage your students to make a calendar that reminds them to give the plants a little water each day.

If you snip a bit here and there from the plants, they will continue to grow. So, don't feel bad about gathering what you need to make mini-bagel pizzas. To do this, place sliced mini-bagels on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Add a small amount of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Add some mozzarella cheese and heat in the oven until the cheese is bubbly. Be careful; they’ll be hot ... but yummy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Activity: Winter Snowfall

This is a great activity to keep children active and aware in the garden during the winter months. Sticks can be placed throughout the garden so that comparisons can be made as to the depth of the snow. Children can keep journals about their findings, plot or graph the depth of the snow, or note differences on a map of the garden. This activity can provide a wealth of discussion about why and how depths would vary, and what this means for the garden.

Materials:
1) Plastic rulers or yardsticks.
2) 24" to 36" lengths of 1" by 1" lumber.
3) Screws that fit in the holes of the plastic ruler.
4) Wood glue.
5) A hammer or rubber mallet to pound the stakes into the ground.
6) Drill with bit.

Procedure:
1) Glue the ruler to the lumber, so that there is at least a six inch space at the top and bottom of the 1" by 1".

2)When the glue is dry, drill holes through the holes in the ruler into the lumber. Then attach screws to the lumber.

3) Pound the snow stick into the ground, making sure it is deep enough so that the ruler touches the ground. The deeper the stick goes into the ground, the more stable it will remain through the winter. Now the stick is ready to measure snowfall.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Activity: Winter Garden Vision

On a cold winter day, when you can’t go outside and don’t know what to do, have your students create their own WINTER GARDEN VISION.

Materials:
1) Memory and imagination
2) Seed or garden catalogs that you can cut up
3) Pencils, crayons, markers or paints
4) Pictures of your garden

Activity:
1)Remember this years’ garden: Make a bulletin board that shows your garden and what happened in it. Use pictures, drawings, painting and whatever else you can think of.

2) Create next years’ garden: Make a plan of your garden for next year. Cut and paste, draw, paint, or create it on your computer. Then put your creation up on a bulletin board or your wall to remind you of what is to come.

3) Plan a special event: Make plans to have a special event in your garden. This could be a Garden Day, a Birthday celebration, tea for friends or relatives, or a harvest party. Make plans for the event, select the date, make invitations and send them out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Avocado Activity


Some of your student may not be familiar with an avocado, so this is a great activity to introduce them to something new!


Select a soft, ripe avocado. Peel it and spread on saltine crackers and have them sample it. Show the children the size of the seed inside the fruit. The large size may surprise them.


Wash the pit to remove the brown papery skin and any flesh residue.


Poke three toothpicks evenly around the middle (equator) of the pit. Use those tooth picks to support the pit on the rim of a clear glass or plastic cup with the pointed end up.


Fill the water so that the bottom third of the pit is covered in water. Place the clear glass in a bright, warm location, but out of direct sun. Change the water once a week.


In a few weeks, the pit will split open, the roots will grow out the bottom, and a shoot will emerge from the top.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pineapple Party

It may be a cold December day, but that doesn't mean you can't bring the tropics into your classroom! Here is a neat activity for growing your own Pineapple tree...even during those cold, blustery Wisconsin winters!

Materials:
1) Pineapple
2) Shallow pan
3) Water
4) Soil
5) Pot

Activity:
1)Believe it or not, you can use the leafy end of a store-bought pineapple to grow a great plant. In fact, it may even triple its size by the time 12 months have passed.

2) Just pick a pineapple with a good, leafy top. Cut that top off, leaving about an inch of fruit attached.

3) Set the pineapple top in a shallow pan, like an old layer cake pan, filled with water.

4) Once it begins to root, plant it in rich soil and keep the dirt moist -- but not too wet. To protect the tropical wonder from extreme cold, bring it inside when the weather drops below 45 degrees.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Activity: Food Bingo

This is a simple and fun variation on the traditional Bingo game.

Materials:
1)Make Bingo cards with different types of fruits and vegetables; use lesser known plants so kids can learn about a brand new fruits and veggies!
--For example, try using kiwis and kohlrabi instead of potatoes and apples.
--Make enough cards for the number of children in your class.
3) Cards with the names of all the fruits and vegetables used on your bingo cards for the caller to shout out.
4)Cards with the letters (B-I-N-G-O)

Activity
1)Have the caller draw a letter and a fruit/veggie card. They will call something like “B-Eggplant”

2) When a child gets a row, they call out Bingo.

3) If possible, have these “strange” fruits and veggies available for students to sample after the game.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Garden Pals: Video Exchange

It's always fun to visit other school's gardens to see their diversity of crops and their activities, but sometimes that just isn't feasible. Most teachers would love to have their students visit a garden in Guatemala to experience a different gardening culture, but most won't be able to do that.

A great option for "visiting" other school gardens is to participate in a video exchange with other schools around the state, country, or world! Wouldn't it be amazing for your students to see their video pen pals from Ecuador growing corn and then standing in a banana jungle?

All you need to create a garden video is a thriving garden and a camcorder. You can either mail the videocassettes or post the video to be shared with another school online.

What should your video show? Keep it simple and interesting--15 to 20 minutes is plenty. Let your students each narrate a small portion, introducing themselves and showing the school and the garden. You can demonstrate the garden games you play or have students talk about their garden stories.

Where can you find schools to share these videos with? If you want to share your video with schools in Wisconsin, visit the http://bit.ly/9LxKhH for the names of school gardens around the state. For a country wide or worldwide garden, simply do a google search, contact the schools you think would interest your students and begin the communication process.

Happy Traveling!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Activities to Curb Cabin Fever

Now that winter is upon us, you may be thinking that there aren’t many plant activities that your students can participate in. However, there are lots of fun ideas to get students thinking about gardens, even when there’s snow on the ground.

Watch seeds sprout! Line a glass or plastic jar with a damp paper towel and insert several zucchini or lima bean seeds between the glass and the towel. Place a lid on the jar, leave it by a sunny spot and check the towel every day to make sure it’s still moist. Seeds should sprout in a few days.

Make your very own worm farm! Line a large cardboard box with a garbage bag. Fill it with soil, organic matter and a few warms. Keep it shady and moist, but not too wet. Add vegetable scraps to feed the worms. The worm farm will help teach students about the interdependence of plants and organisms as they watch the worms turn vegetable scraps into valuable compost.

Read a book! Telling a story about gardening to students during winter will get them excited for the growing (and eating) process later in the year.

Start a microfarm! You can grow microgreens (immature plants) for a tasty salad indoors all year long. The entire gardening process only takes about 3-4 weeks. For more information on building a microfarm, visit the Got Dirt? website at http://www.gotdirtwisconsin.org/.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December School Garden Ideas

There are a lot of things I learned about December holidays…there’s a whole lot of days dedicated to sweet treats and not too many dedicated to healthy snacks. For instance, there’s National Cotton Candy Day on Dec. 7th followed quickly by National Brownie Day on Dec. 8th and not to be outdone, Dec. 15th is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. With all these indulgent days lined up throughout December, try to remember to eat healthy and keep your students on the right track. Have a very wonderful December!

Dec. 1st:
National Eat a Red Apple Day: Try an art project with your students that involve apples. When I was in elementary school, our art teacher had us paint 100 apples, but none of the apples could be the same. It was a horrendous, grueling, pain staking process for a 4th grader…it haunts me to this day. I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s an activity that is more likely to please; http://bit.ly/bDCGga

National Pie Day: Along with the traditional pumpkin or apple pies, try this homemade whoopee pie recipe that includes a secret ingredient…spinach puree! http://bit.ly/9dFz2F

Dec. 4th:
National Cookie Day: Remember, always in moderation! Here’s a slightly healthier cookie recipe; http://bit.ly/1lCgFU

Dec. 5th:
Volunteer Day: Take a break from the holiday stress to give your time to a worthy cause. This is a great opportunity to get your student’s in the giving spirit.

Dec. 5-12: Hanukkah

Dec. 17th:
National Maple Syrup Day: Did you know it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? Wisconsin is one of 17 states that produce maple syrup.

National Underdog Day: It seems fruits and vegetables may be the underdogs during the month of December. Everybody roots for the underdog, so cheer them on!

Dec. 18th:
Wear a Plunger on your Head Day: Why not?

Dec. 19th:
Oatmeal Muffin Day: Here’s a great tasting recipe for a healthy treat! http://bit.ly/buAQJL

Dec. 20th:
Games Day: Check out our blog for lots of great activities for your students, including games! http://bit.ly/ac6Ucd

Dec. 21st:
First Day of Winter: For most Wisconsinites, winter came long before Dec. 21st.

Look at the Bright Side Day: When it’s 10 degrees below zero with gray skies, try looking on the bright side to perk up your day!

Dec. 25th: Christmas Day

Dec. 26th-Jan. 1st: Kwanzaa

Dec. 31st: New Years Eve

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The History of School Gardens

School gardens have a rich and fascinating history. Take the time to watch this video on the history of school gardens by the Library of Congress.

This could be a great video to watch with your students as a history lesson!

Sit back and enjoy the wealth of information on school gardens and the narrator's fun Eastern accent =)

http://bit.ly/aXj1Dr

Monday, November 29, 2010

Edible Flower Power

If you’re interested in adding a little more color to your garden, consider planting edible flowers. Edible flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or as a salad. Squash flowers can be fried in light batter or cornmeal, some flowers can be stuffed or used in stir-fry dishes. The possibilities are endless! Edible flowers can be candied; frozen in ice cubes and added to beverages, made into jellies and jams, used to make teas or wines, added to spreads, and much more.

Please note that not all flowers are edible; some may taste bad and some are even poisonous. Eat flowers only if you are certain they are edible. Consult a good reference book before eating any type of flower.

Below are some suggestions on edible flowers and how to use them!

Marigold: Flavors range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery. Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads. Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.

Carnations: Carnations can be steeped in wine, candy, or used as a cake decoration. To use the sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower.

Chrysanthemums: Flavors are typically tangy to slightly better. The petals should be blanched and then scattered on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only.

Johnny Jump Ups: The blooms have a mild wintergreen flavor and can be used in salads, to decorate cakes, or served with soft cheese. They are also a great addition to drinks, soups, desserts, or salads.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More than Pictures

In March through September of 2010, twenty six at-risk youth in residential treatment at Northwest Passage were given the mission of using cameras to reveal the spirit of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The photographs astonished everyone. However, the boys captured the spirit of more than just a river.

http://bit.ly/dgP1ke

Consider having your students photograph your garden throughout the various seasons.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grant Opportunity: America the Beautiful Fund

America the Beautiful Fund Operation Green Plant is offering free seeds to community groups striving to better our world through gardening. These are the 2008 and 2009 seeds with germination rates of 92-95%. Grants of 100 to 6,000 seed packets are being offered.

America the Beautiful Fund is also offering The Green Earth Guide on CD-ROM, containing illustrated gardening instructions and ideas on involving the whole community in your project. They are also able to supply your group with gloves through a donation from Wells-Lamont.

This is an on-going grant. Application materials can be found at: http://www.america-the-beautiful.org/free_seeds/index.php.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Appleton Schools Make Some Healthy Choices

There is a great article about changing student lunches at Appleton Area School District. Take a chance to watch the video of student's reaction to a new healthy lunch sample.

http://bit.ly/cYdzMp

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Activity: Thanksgiving Comparisons

Here’s an activity where students are able to compare food eaten during the first Thanksgiving compared to what they eat for Thanksgiving today. Under the activity instructions is an overview of the first Thanksgiving meal.

Materials:
Paper to draw a Venn Diagram

Activity:
1) Discuss the history of the first thanksgiving and the food served there.

2) Have students draw a Venn Diagram and have them label one circle “First Thanksgiving” and the other circle “Thanksgiving Today”.

3)Students should write foods that they learned were eaten at the first Thanksgiving and foods that are eaten today. The center of the Venn diagram should include foods that were eaten then and are still eaten today.

It is believed that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the very first Thanksgiving feast after harvest in 1621 in Plymouth, MA. It was held as a religious outdoor festival, where hundreds of people gathered to partake in the festivities. It was originally held as a three day celebration.

Historians believe that the menu consisted of venison, roasted turkey, wild fowl including ducks, geese and swans, fish, and lobsters. Vegetables served included pumpkins, squash, beans, dried fruits, cranberries, and dried corn. The sugar supply brought over on the Mayflower from England was nearly exhausted by the time of the first Thanksgiving, so it is widely assumed that wheat pudding may have been on of the only sweet dishes served.

The pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit in the meat sauces they prepared. Many of the meats were put on a spit and turned over a fire for six hours. Since ovens were yet to be invented, pies, cakes, and breads most likely were not at the first Thanksgiving table.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Farmer Market Mania!

Does it seem like there were more farmer's markets than ever this year? Well, the number of farmers markets is booming in the United States, and Wisconsin is No. 8 among states with the most markets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nationwide, farmers markets increased 16%, with the biggest increase among Midwestern states, the USDA found.

The top 10 states with the most farmers markets are: California, with 580; New York (461); Illinois (286); Michigan (271); Iowa (229); Massachusetts (227); Ohio (213); Wisconsin (204); Pennsylvania (203); and North Carolina (182).

Most of those states are among the 15 most populous in the country. Wisconsin ranks 20th in population in the U.S., and Iowa 30th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fruit & Veggie Challenge

Looking for a great way to motivate your students to eat their fruits and vegetables? Why not try the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge?

Simply print off the challenge sheets found on the USDA website link below and have students record the number of fruits and vegetables they eat each day.

Consider giving out rewards for eating the most fruit/vegetables or the most diverse fruit/vegetables. You could even give a party when all the students reach a certain number of fruits and vegetables consumed. The possibilities are endless!

http://bit.ly/9aN7eU

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Annie's Grants for Gardens

Annie’s offers a limited number of small grants to community gardens, school gardens, and other educational programs that connect children directly to gardening. These funds can be used to buy gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies.

The grant is on-going and application materials can be found at: http://www.annies.com/grants_for_gardens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Activity: Where does your garden grow?

This is a simple matching game that teaches children where various fruits and vegetables grow.

Materials:
1)Pictures of carrots, lettuce, zucchini, blueberries, and papaya. (You can vary these types of fruits and veggies, just make sure you have a plant for each type of growing style)

2)Labels that state “In the ground”, “On the ground”, “On a vine”, “On a bush”, and “In a tree”
--Note: If possible, put magnets on all of these pictures and labels so you can hang them on the chalk board.

Activity:
1)Hand out the pictures to the students. Each student will receive one picture of a vegetable or fruit.

2)Have the students match the vegetable or fruit to its growing style. Students will need to guess which plant goes with which growing style.

3) Review the results to determine if the students were correct.

4)Discuss why certain plants have certain growing styles. Discuss what other types of plants share the same growing styles. For example, ask” What other vegetable, besides a carrot, grows in the ground?”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Mantis Awards for Community and Youth Gardens

Mantis (known for their tillers and cultivators) presents the Mantis Awards to charitable and educational groups that enhance the quality of life in their communities. The National Gardening Association selects 25 outstanding applicants to receive Mantis tillers/cultivators.

Any non-profit garden program may apply, including schools, youth camps, and community gardens.

Award packages include a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator with border/edger and kickstand and their choice of gas-powered 2-cycle engine or electric motor valued at $349.00.

Applications are due by March 1, 2011. Application materials can be found at: http://www.kidsgardening.org/grants/mantis.asp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veggie Music is Always in Season!

Looking to integrate vegetables into your music lesson? Here are a couple cute veggie songs to sing with your students.

Vegetables (tune: Mary had a little lamb)
We are pumpkins, big and round,
Big and round,
big and round.
We are pumpkins,
big and round,
Seated on the ground.
(then try the following)
We are string beans green and fine.....growing on a vine.
We are onions round and white....we make soup taste right.
We are carrots, orange and long...help us sing the song.
We are cabbage green or red....see our funny head.We are corn stalks tall and straight...don’t we just taste great!

The Vegetable Song (Tune: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)
Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
Vegetables are good for me.
For my snack and in my lunch,
Veggie sticks are great to munch.
Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
Vegetables are good for me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grant: Bonnie Plants Cabbage Grant

Each year, Bonnie Plants distributes free cabbage plants to third graders across the country to foster an interest in gardening and the environment. Cabbages are delivered to students whose teachers have signed up to participate. Students in these third grade classrooms each get their very own cabbage to plant, take care of and harvest. The cabbages produce oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids.

As part of the program, Bonnie gives a $1,000 award to one student in each state.

For more information on receiving free cabbage plants, visit the Bonnie Plants website at http://www.bonnieplants.com/CabbageProgram/tabid/81/Default.aspx

Friday, November 5, 2010

Grant: Fiskars Project Orange Thumb

Fiskars will choose 11 recipients from this year’s applicants — 10 will receive $5,000 in cash and tools to help support their goals of neighborhood beautification and horticulture education, and one lucky applicant will receive a complete garden makeover!

Please note that everyone who applies will be considered for a grant, but only those that specify they are interested and meet Fiskars’ criteria will be considered for a complete garden makeover. Apply today and help Project Orange Thumb sow the seeds of community change!

Application deadline is December 31, 2010. Applications materials can be found at:
http://bit.ly/9VmI1s

Grant: People's Garden School Pilot Program

This is due Monday, November 8th! Sorry for the late notice!

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is announcing the opportunity for public and not-for-profit organizations to submit applications for a Peoples Garden School Pilot Program grant competition. FNS has set aside $1 million for this pilot program. One grantee will be selected to enter into a cooperative agreement for the purposes of developing and running community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teaching students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; contributing produce to supplement food provided at eligible schools, student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs; and conducting an evaluation of funded projects to learn more about the impacts of school gardens.

Interested parties must adhere to all the application material requirements in order to be considered for funding. FNS must receive completed grant applications on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Nov. 8, 2010. Applications may be submitted by email to: FY2010Prop_PeoplesGarden@fns.usda.gov or www.grants.gov.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Farm Fresh to your Table

Trying to eat more locally grown foods but don’t know where to begin? Have no fear; the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas is here! Whether you want to stock your pantry or eat out, the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas makes it easy to buy and eat locally grown food. The atlas (which is published specifically for various regions in the state) lists farms, farmer’s markets and food related businesses that sell a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs and other products.

This atlas also can provide educators with a great resource for contacting local farmers for field trips or class projects.

http://www.farmfreshatlas.org/

Grant Opportunity: 'I Can Grow' Youth Garden Award

Youth and community garden programs across the U.S. can benefit from the new Burpee Home Gardens "I Can Grow" Youth Garden Award. Applications are being considered now, and the award will sponsor and support urban school and community gardens in cities across the country in 2011.

Who should apply?
Schools and youth educators
Community centers or organizations
Youth groups

What the Youth Garden Award includes:
Up to 500 vegetable and herb plants*
$2,500 for program supplies
On-site assistance for initial garden layout and installation
Installation day event publicity coordination
Five gallons of Daniels® Plant Food (a sustainable fertilizer)
Flip® video camera to document garden progress* Quantity of plants is dependent upon size of garden and need

Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 3, 2010. Award status will be determined in January 2011, and plant material will be delivered based on installation timing in Spring.
http://www.burpeehomegardens.com/ICanGrow/_YouthGardenAward.aspx

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keeping Veggies Fresh

It’s the end of the growing season and you’ve yielded a (hopefully) successful crop, but maybe that crop was a little too successful. If you have too much produce and not enough stomach space or simply want that fresh off the vine taste in the middle of winter, consider freezing your leftovers. You don’t have to invest in canning products to keep some vegetables fresh after the season is done.

Take a lesson from the The Gathering food pantry’s Food Preservation Project in Milwaukee. The volunteers at The Gathering core the tomatoes, blanch them in pots of boiling water, remove the skins, cut the tomatoes into eighths and put them into 1 gallon freezer bags. They’ve also done this with green and red peppers and cabbage that was simply shredded and then frozen.

To find our more about The Gathering’s project, check out this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.http://bit.ly/9kZ2xX

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Welch's "Win a School Garden" Grant

Welch’s and Scholastic will award two schools in every state with a customized indoor or outdoor garden package.

The packages are filled with a variety of tools, seeds, educational materials, and more. The top 5 winners will receive a package valued at $1,000 and 95 winners will receive a package valued at $500.

Deadline for submission is February 11, 2011. Application materials can be found at http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3752777.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Growing Healthy

Take a look at what how a school in Green Bay is implementing better eating habits for children in their cafeteria!

http://bit.ly/bIlYDi

Grant Opportunity: Safe Routes to School

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is now accepting applications for 25 mini-grants of $1,000 each. These mini-grants support the goal of the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, which is to enable and encourage children to safely walk and bicycle to school. They will fund activities that range from foundational efforts to help start or sustain a program to new ideas that explore the range of benefits of safe walking and bicycling to school.

The National Center’s SRTS mini-grant program, now in its third award cycle, seeks creative ideas that match a school’s needs and interests together with ways to help improve safety and/or increase the number of students walking and rolling to school. Schools’ needs and interests could encompass a variety of different focus areas, including: addressing distracted driving and personal safety; engaging children with disabilities; emphasizing physical activity and health; exploring environmental concerns; contributing to a positive learning environment; or participating in civic discussion. Specific guidelines for fundable activities are available at www.saferoutesinfo.org/minigrants/eligibleactivities.

Applications are available now at www.saferoutesinfo.org/minigrants.

Funded activities must occur at an elementary or middle school between January 2011 and the end of the spring 2011 semester. Applications are due Friday,Nov. 19, 2010, by 8 p.m. EST and recipients will be announced January 2011.

November School Garden Ideas


Peanut Butter Lover’s Month:
Make “ants on a log” with your students. All you need is celery stalks, peanut butter, and raisins. Simply cut the celery sticks in half, spread peanut butter in the center, and place raisins on top! A healthy and fun snack that is sure to please everyone!

Native American Heritage Month: Take some time to learn about Native American cuisine. Did you know that the staple foods of the Eastern Woodlands Native Americans were corn, beans, and squash? Fruits and vegetables were also used medicinally and for dye. Try making a vegetable dyed shirt with your class. (See instructions in previous blog posts)

American Diabetes Month: A new study published in a British Medical Journal has found that eating high amounts of green leafy vegetables helps significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Nov. 14-20: American Education Week: A big thank you goes out to all the educators who try to provide every child with a quality education.

Nov. 1: Electric Light Bulb Patented: Try making a potato battery to light a LED light. It’s a great science experiment. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/g2CL3

National Family Literacy Day: Read a book such as “Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden” by George Levenson.

Nov. 2: Cookie Monster’s B-Day: Things have changed from when most of us were kids. Cookie Monster has changed his tune since 2006, showing awareness of healthy eating habits for kids. He has said that cookies are a “sometime snack” and that he also loves fruits and vegetables.

Election Day: Don’t forget to vote!

Nov. 3: Sandwich Day: Have students write a descriptive story about their favorite type of sandwich.

Nov. 7: Daylight Savings Time Ends: Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour.

Nov. 15: America Recycles Day: Recycling is more than just separating plastic and paper when it comes to your school garden. Hold a discussion about the importance of composting and consider starting your own compost!

Nov. 17: Take a Hike Day: Get active! Take a walk around the block, hike some nature trails, and just run, skip, jump, and play for the day.

Nov. 23: Eat a Cranberry Day: Visit a cranberry bog or invite a cranberry grower to come speak with your class. Did you know that Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with 26 cranberries?

Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Day: Enjoy this special holiday with your family! Consider having a locally grown thanksgiving meal.

What garden activities do you have planned for the month of November? Share them below!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Lowe's Toolbox for Education

Though the grant application process for the 2010 is now closed, the 2011 grant program will be back up and running October 25, 2010 through February 18, 2011.

Any individual non-profit K-12 school is eligible for the grant valued between $2,000 and $5,000. Lowe’s is donating $5 million to schools and school parent teacher groups at more than 1,000 different schools.

Application materials can be found at: http://www.toolboxforeducation.com/index.html.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grant Opportunity: NCR-SARE Youth & Youth Educator Grants

The NCR-SARE grants purpose is to provide opportunities for youth and youth educators in the North Central Region (that’s us Wisconsinites!) to learn more about sustainable agriculture.

Youth grants are for on-farm research, demonstration, or education projects by youth ages 8-18 and is a $400 maximum grant. Youth educator grants are for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth and is a $2,000 maximum grant.

The deadline for the grants is Friday, January 14, 2011. Application materials can be found at http://www.sare.org/ncrsare/youth.htm

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vegetable Clothing

Native Americans became masters at extracting the natural dyes contained in vegetables and plants. By purchasing just a few readily available products from the supermarket, you can create vegetable dyes just like Native Americans used.

With adult supervision, children can learn to make dyes from different vegetables and then tie-dye a T-shirt or piece of fabric using their homemade dye. Carrots, red cabbage and beets are good vegetables to use for dye, and children can experiment by creating different colors.

Shred the vegetables using a grater or food processor, then place them in a pan and cover with cold water.

Simmer on low heat for up to half an hour, and then strain the colorful liquid from the vegetable matter.

To dye fabric (it will only work for natural fibers like cotton and silk), soak it in the dye solution overnight, then rinse well.

Children can experiment by using more or less vegetable matter, combining different-colored dyes and leaving the fabric in the dye for shorter or longer time periods to create different colors

Check out this video that shows a similar project: http://bit.ly/a8lzUu

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting to the Root of the Issue

Check out this great article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on finding, preparing, and eating root vegetables, such as beets, turnips, and parsnips.

http://bit.ly/9sIYNg

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Muhammad Ali Center Peace Garden Grant

The National Gardening Association is announcing a new sponsorship program by Yum! Brands. In an effort to help all schools sow the seeds of respect, the Muhammad Ali Center Peace Garden is designed to help schools teach lessons of peace and hunger awareness through garden activities.

To be eligible for the grant, your school or organization must plan to garden in 2011 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. Schools must have a student body eligible for 50% or more reduced or free lunches. Selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and peace studies, and nutrition and hunger issues.

50 award packages are available. Winners will receive a “Link-a-Bord” raised garden bed, literature package from NGA, kid’s gardening tools, child-sized gardening gloves, and a composter.

Applications are due by January 5, 2011. Application materials can be found at: http://www.kidsgardening.org/grants/yumpeacegarden.asp

Halloween is Almost Here!

It’s that time of year! It’s pumpkin carving season in Wisconsin. Pumpkins size, color, texture, smell, and taste make them perfect for children’s observations and explorations. But before you toss out all those pumpkin seeds leftover from carving, consider using this great math activity as a learning experience for your students!


Materials

At least 2-3 pumpkins per student group (students should be divided into groups of 3-5)
Safe carving knife for cutting open pumpkins
Scooping spoons to remove seeds from pumpkins
Paper and pencils to record observations

Activity

--To introduce the activity, have the class discuss what pumpkins look like from the outside and what they might look like on the inside.

--Use roasting and eating pumpkin seeds as an example. If they wanted to go into a grocery store and find a pumpkin with many seeds, how would they know which one to choose?
--The goal of this activity is to determine what characteristics would help predict the number of seeds in a pumpkin.

--Have the students discuss the various ways they could measure and describe the pumpkin. For example, what is the weight, how tall is it, what is the color and the shape, etc.

--The individual groups will then decide on 5 questions to investigate. For example, “How tall?”, “How big around?”, “How many lines around the pumpkin?” Have the students make a graph of these questions and their results for each pumpkin.
--If the group decides to measure the pumpkins, the students can use string to make the measurements, plot the string lengths on a meter stick or yardstick, and translate the findings to the group's chart.

Pumpkin 1
Pumpkin 2
Pumpkin 3
1. How tall?
2. How big around?
3. What color?
4. What is the weight?
5. How many lines on the outside?
1st Seed Count (Prediction)
2nd Seed Count (Estimation)
3rd Seed Count (Exact Total)


--When data collection is complete and recorded, each group will predict the number of seeds in the pumpkin and discuss possible connections between the number of seeds and the pumpkin’s characteristics.


--Cut the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds and pulp, separate the seeds and pulp and let the seeds dry. Each group can then count the seeds for a total.
You can also have the group estimate the number of seeds they scoop out and then count for an exact number


--Post all the groups charts and results. Compare the exact number of pumpkin seeds with the predictions and estimations. Ask some of the following questions:
How different are the totals?
Do pumpkins with similar characteristics have similar seed counts?
Is there any relationship between pumpkin characteristics and the number of seeds?

But the activities don’t have to end there! You can have the students carve the pumpkins for an art lesson and then display them throughout the school or let them take them home. You can also roast the seeds in a cooking class. Check out our simple, easy pumpkin seed roasting recipe below. Be sure to have a “spooktacular” Halloween!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
1 ½ cups raw pumpkin seeds, dried
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 pinch salt

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Toss seeds in a bowl with melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
3) Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back-to School Garden

School is back in session and fall is a great time to start a garden. Cool season vegetable varieties such as spinach, radishes, and kale are great choices. Plant the seeds as soon as possible and water as needed for a great fall harvest

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video: Beehive in the White House's Garden

Bees play an important role in any garden as they help pollinate plants.

Check out this neat video about the beehive in the White House's garden!

Use this video as a launching point for a discussion on pollination or the role of insects in your garden!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Activity: Where Do Your Fruits/Veggies Grow?

In this math and geography lesson, students will recognize where various fruits and vegetables are grown and realize the importance of eating locally.

Materials
  • Map
  • List of where fruits and vegetables are grown (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Calculator (optional)
  • Pencils
Set up options
  • Students can work individually or as teams
  • Students can research where fruits/veggies are grown or you can provide a list of for students
Activity
  • Using a map, have students calculate the number of miles it takes to ship a fruit/vegetable from where it is grown to your school.
  • Have students label the map to identify where the fruit/vegetable is grown.  Using the ruler draw a line from the place of origin to your school.
  • Have students use the scale on the map to calculate the number of miles the fruit/vegetable travels.
  • Compare and contrast the distance between various items.
  • As a class, discuss the importance of growing/buying locally. 
    • What is the environmental impact of shipping fruits and vegetables?
    • What sorts of fruits/vegetables should students try to buy/grow locally? 
    • Are any of these items being grown in your garden?
    • What are the advantages/disadvantages of being able to ship these products across the country/world?

To find what fruits and vegetables are local to your state and to others, visit The National Resource Defense Council website. Use this site to create a list of fruits/vegetables and their locations for your students to map. This website also allows you to search by season!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pictures: Hillcrest Elementary's Container Garden

As the school year wraps up, pictures from school garden projects keep flooding in.  Here are some wonderful pictures from Hillcrest Elementary School in Oneida, Wisconsin.

First and fifth grade students teamed up to create container gardens.  Students planted beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, peas and tomatoes.  A container garden has a low start up cost and is a perfect for schools without a lot of outdoor space.  Check it out!




To learn how to start your own container garden, visit the "Resources" section of the Got Dirt? website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Veggie Swap

School gardens offer a wonderful opportunity to connect with community members. 

Consider hosting your own Veggie Swap featuring the fresh produce from your garden.  Invite nearby school gardens and local and family gardeners to harvest the fresh produce from their garden and come together for a fun gardening event.

Gardeners can share and swap their produce.  Parents and students can create a pot luck with the fresh produce and celebrate your harvest.

This is the perfect opportunity to try a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and share your bountiful harvest. It can also be an inspirational evening of learning gardening advice and tips for the next gardening season.

Best of all, your students will realize that they are a part of a larger gardening community and their eyes will be opened to even more fruits and veggies.

Check out the map of school gardens in Wisconsin to find a fellow gardener near you.  If you have a school garden and aren't featured on the map, let us know and we'll gladly add your school garden!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

100th Post & Photos of Sand Lake Elementary's Garden

This entry marks GotDirtWi's 100th blog post!  What better way to celebrate than with pictures of a school garden!

Fourth grade students from Sand Lake Elementary, in Holmen, Wisconsin, created an in-ground garden with their Got Dirt? grant.  They started some plants indoors and then transplanted them into the new garden.  Check out all of their hard work!


(Starting plants in the classroom)

(Measuring out the garden)


(Getting ready to transplant)







(Working hard!)


Friday, June 4, 2010

Two School Garden Grant Opportunities

The gardening season is finally here in Wisconsin.  And with that comes the cost of implementing your gardening dreams.

Here are a couple of grant opportunities to help make those dreams reality...

Learn and Serve America Grant (Grant deadline: June 15, 2010)

Wisconsin Department of Instruction (DPI) is offering grants to fund service learning projects for the 2010-2011 school year.  As DPI explains, the grant "supports service-learning in K-12 school to support the implementation and institutionalization of service-learning as a key instructional methodology for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills across the curriculum."

School garden programs offer a perfect service learning opportunity as students plan, organize, and create their garden project.  Plus, there are countless curriculum connections possible.
Check out DPI's website for a grant application and additional details.  While the application and guidelines are quite lengthy, it is worth checking out!


AMA Healthy Living Grant Program (Grant deadline: July 15, 2010)

The AMA Foundation created this grant to address our nation's major health issues, including obesity, tobacco, and alcohol.  "These grants provide critical funding that can jumpstart a project, affect change quickly, increase visibility for a project/organization, encourage collaboration and make a lasting difference in a community."

An estimated 15-25 grants, valued up $5,000 each, will be distributed to nonprofit organizations that address issues of nutrition/physical fitness; alcohol, substance abuse and smoking prevention; and violence prevention.

A school garden program is a natural fit for the Nutrition/Physical Fitness category.  Applicants in this category must include at least one nutrition objective and one physical activity objective.  School gardens encourage healthy eating by increasing children's knowledge and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.   Plus, gardening is a great form of physical activity.  The learning possibilities and objectives are endless!

For additional information, requirements and an application, click here!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photos: Hayward Primary School's Microfarm

Second grade students at Hayward Primary School in Hayward Wisconsin have been busy working on their school garden.  After receiving a Got Dirt? grant, they created a Microfarm to help grow plants in their classroom.  Check out their fabulous work!

Planting the Microfarm trays


Plants growing in the Microfarm


Learning how to transplant







Learning the parts of a plant







Thumbs Up for Vegetables!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June School Garden Ideas

At the beginning of each month, the Got Dirt? WI blog features a variety of month-specific ways to incorporate your school garden into your classroom.


June means growing season here in Wisconsin.  As your garden begins to burst with produce, incorporate some of these garden activities to keep children excited and interested in the growing process!

June:  National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month--What a fabulous theme for the month! Celebrate an entire month of fruits/vegetables from the garden or visit your local farmers' market for more fresh produce.  Try something new each week and broaden your students' horizons.  They may be surprised at what they like!

June 5: World Environment Day--Celebrate environments near and far.  Compare and contrast the environment in your backyard to the environment in another part of the world.  How does the environment impact what you can/cannot grow in your garden?  Draw pictures of what it would look like outside the window at a school in another part of the world.  Hang these windows to the world around your classroom.

June 6: National Gardening Exercise Day--Have fun with this day and take your students outside to run, skip, jump and play in the garden.  They can imitate a plant growing by standing tall and stretching high.  Have students create a garden relay race.  Use a vegetable as a baton or have students balance a vegetable on a spoon.  No matter the activity, have students go outside and enjoy playing among fruits and vegetables!

June 10: Iced Tea Day--Take a break from all that watering, weeding, and gardening to enjoy a nice, cold glass of iced tea!

June 13: Weed Your Garden Day--Make today a work day in the garden.  Teach students the difference between weeds and plants.  Recruit volunteer to give your garden a good weeding so that you have a bountiful harvest!

June 15: Fly a Kite Day--Get outside and enjoy the summer by flying a kite!

June 16: Fresh Veggies Day--A perfect opportunity to pick vegetables from your garden and enjoy a summer snack!  If your vegetables aren't quite ready to be harvested, have each student bring a different type of vegetable to share at snack time.  Find out students' favorite fresh veggie snack!

June 17: Eat Your Vegetables Day--Another wonderful chance to have students try new and unfamiliar vegetables.  Have students tally all the vegetables they ate for the day.  Create a graph as a class to find out the most popular and/or most unusual vegetables eaten.

June 18: International Picnic Day--Go on a picnic with your class.  You can pack healthy foods from your garden or go on your picnic in the garden.  There's nothing like eating among fruits and veggies!

June 20: Father's Day--Give Dad a hug!

June 21: First Day of Summer

June 25: Eric Carle's Birthday--Read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed, which beautifully illustrates the lifecycle of a plant.


What garden activities do you have planned for the month of June? Share them below!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Photos: Boys and Girls Club's Container Garden

I received a call today from the Boys and Girls Club of West Salem, Wisconsin.  After attending a Got Dirt? training session, they started a container garden and the kids LOVED it! 

They planted lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, radishes, beans and carrots.

Below are a few pictures from their gardening experience...





Have you attended a Got Dirt? training session and started a garden?  Let us know and we will feature your garden photos!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

School Garden Trivia

Knowledge sprouts in the garden with this trivia activity!

Materials:
  • Garden stakes
  • Laminated trivia/facts
  • Glue
Activity:

  • The history and lore of plants provide a great learning opportunity for your young gardeners.  After choosing the types of fruits and vegetables you will plant in your garden, research some fun facts about them.  
  • Type or write the facts on small pieces of paper and laminate them.
  • Read the facts to students or have them each share a fun fact or story.
  • Attach each fact to a garden stake and place it in the garden.   Not only does it help identify what is growing but it offers a little history too.
Check out these great websites for fun facts and stories:

  • Heirloom Seeds Garden Trivia
    • Examples:
      • "Tomatoes were originally thought to be poisonous and did not gain acceptance in the US until 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a basket full of tomatoes on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey on September 26, 1820.  The assembled crowd expected to see the Colonel drop dead.  When he suffered no ill effects, the tomato was on its way to become the most popular vegetable grown by backyard gardeners today!"
      • "The radish was eaten during breakfast, lunch and dinner by early American settlers.  By the late eighteenth century, at least ten varieties of radishes were popular in home gardens.  Thomas Jefferson grew eight different varieties in his own gardens at Monticello."
  • Ag Day
    • Examples:
      • "We are eating 900% more broccoli than we did 20 years ago"
      • "The bright orange color of carrots tells you they're an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is important for good eyesight, especially at night.  Vitamin A helps your body fight infection and keeps your skin and hair healthy!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

End of the Year Poem

The end of the school year is fast approaching!  It's time to wrap up another year of learning and, perhaps, it's the end to your school garden project.

The following end of the year poem can be included with a small gardening gift to students, such as a packet of seeds, so that students can continue their school garden project at home over the summer. 

The poem can also perfectly compliment the students' container gardens, which they can take home with them over the summer.

Or, simply read it to your students as you wrap up the school year.


In 2009 at the beginning of September,
You came into my class, how well I remember.

Some of you were smiling and giggling a lot,
Some were very quiet and a few tears I did spot.

You came here to learn, to be taught how to read,
You were then very much like a tiny new seed.

You were all in my garden just waiting to grow,
So this gardener got busy with her rake and her hoe.

I fed you the water and let in the sun,
You took in the soil, and we had only begun.

Each day as I worked in this garden of mine,
I saw you all growing so strong and so fine.

Then finally one day I took a good look,
And saw each of my plants reading a book.

It was obvious then that you had worked too
Soaking up all the food I had given to you.

But although you have blossomed, you still need to grow,
So I'll pass you on now to another gardener I know.

She too has a rake and hoe she can use,
And plenty of food from which you can choose.

I hope that you will keep your roots open wide,
Take in all her food and keep it inside.

Yes, a gardener can work all night and all day,
But the plant must be willing to take in each ray.

So work very hard in your garden each year
Do the best you can and you'll have nothing to fear.

Grow strong and tall, reach up for the sun,
Stay as nice as you are and have lots of fun.

Source

Friday, May 21, 2010

Garden Crusader Award

Do you know someone who is making a difference by gardening?  Nominate them for a Garden Crusader Award!

I know that there are fabulous teachers/educators/community members making a difference in the lives of their students by starting a school garden.  Here's a chance to be recognized for all of your great efforts or to nominate a stellar gardener in your community. 

Details...

Awards will be given in four categories: Education, Feeding the Hungry, Urban Renewal, and Restoration. 
  • Grand Prize winners receive $2,500 in cash and a $2,500 gardening gift certificate
  • First place winners receive a $1,000 gardening gift certificate
  • Second place winners receive a $750 gardening gift certificate
  • Third place winners receive a $500 gardening gift certificate
  • (2) Honorable mentions receive a $200 gift certificate
  • *All prizes are awarded to the winner's organization in his/her name.
Applications are due June 1 so make sure to apply today!

Click here for details and nomination form.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Activity: Chef Chlorophyll


Students will participate in a skit to learn that plants make food through the process of photosynthesis.


Materials:
  • Images of the sun, water, and air (available in the "Teaching Tools" section of www.gotdirtwisconsin.org)
    • You may choose to substitute props for the images
  • Soup pot
  • Large spoon


Activity:


  • Ask the students how they think that plants eat. 
    • Use humans as an analogy.  Humans eat food to get energy.  Have they seen plants eat food?
  • Explain that leaves help plants make food through the process called photosynthesis.   
    • If humans could make their own food, it would be like making a piece of lasagna in their arm.
  • Perform the following skit to illustrate what a plant needs to make food.
    • Holding your soup pot and spoon, introduce yourself as Chef Chlorophyll. Tell your students that you live inside the leaves of a plant and are making food to help the plant grow.
    • Taste the soup in your pot and explain, “It tastes okay, but it needs a few ingredients.”
    • Ask the students what ingredients the plant needs to grow.
    • Each time a student answers a correct ingredient (sun, air, and water) give the student the image of the ingredient and allow them to place it in the pot.
    • Repeat until all of the ingredients are in the pot.
    • Tell students that the soup tastes just right and now the plant can grow big and strong.
  • Have students create recipe cards with what plants need to make food.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Activity: Fruit and Veggie Ads

Companies constantly market to children, trying to get them to try sugary snacks and treats.  Students can easily recall and recite products' jingles, slogans, or spokesperson.

In this activity, students will use their own powers of persuasion to create advertisements for items from their school garden.

Assignment:

  • Begin with a discussion of advertising and persuasion. 
    • Talk about how marketers try to convince their audience to try new products.
    • Show examples of advertisements and ask questions, such as:
      • What claims does the advertisement make?
      • What imagery does it use to sell the product?
      • In addition to the actual product, what attributes (i.e. friendship, happiness, comfort, etc) is the ad trying to sell?
      • Who is the advertisement targeting? 
      • Is it effective? Why or why not?
  • Each student or team will each choose, or be assigned, a fruit or vegetable.  
  • Students will research the health benefits of their particular fruit/veggie.
  • Each student or team will create their own advertisement to convince and persuade their peers to try their fruit/veggie.  Students are encouraged to be creative by making their own video, print ad, or jingle.
  • Students will present their finished advertisement to the class. 
  • Students will vote or rank the persuasiveness of each advertisement.
Alternatives:
  • Students can also create public service announcements boasting the importance of eating fruits and veggies each day. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Activity: Dirt Made My Lunch

Recently when speaking with a first grade teacher who had started a classroom gardening project, she told that one of her inquisitive students asked, "Why can't we just plant pizza?"

While an amusing question, the teacher used this as a teaching moment using the following activity.

Materials:
  • Pictures of food items.  (You will need pictures of each ingredient and the corresponding steps it takes as you trace it to the soil)
    • Cheeseburger
      • Bun: flour, wheat, soil
      • Burger: beef, cow, grass, soil
      • Cheese: milk, cow, grass, soil
      • Pickle: vinegar, cucumber, cucumber plant, dill plant, soil
      • Ketchup: tomato plant, soil
    • Pizza
      • Dough: flour, wheat, soil
      • Cheese: milk, cow, grass, soil
      • Tomato Sauce: tomato plant, soil
  • Tape or magnets
Activity:
  • Draw columns on the board and place each ingredient at the top (i.e. one column for bun, burger, cheese, pickle, and ketchup).
  • Hand out the remaining pictures to the students.
  • Taking one ingredient at a time, trace it back to the soil.  Have the student with the corresponding item place it in the correct column.
    • For example: Cheese comes from milk, which comes from a cow, which eats grass, which comes from the soil
  • Trace other foods to the soil!

The teacher I spoke with said that her students LOVED this activity! They wanted to trace all sorts of foods to the soil and their garden!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Resource: Great School Garden Lesson Plans

Why reinvent the wheel when other fabulous teachers have created wonderful garden related lesson plans?

I found this fantastic website, which includes lesson plans, broken down by grade levels.  And, even better, the lesson plans identify which academic standards they adhere to! 

Click here to check it out!

Do you have your own favorite school garden lesson plans or resources?  Share your wealth of knowledge in the comment section below!

Happy Gardening and Happy Learning!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Start a School Garden




Click "Full Screen" and "Autoplay" to view a short slideshow on why you should start a school garden!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Song: "Do You Know the Parts of Plants?"

On this gloomy and potentially snowy day in May, here is a little ditty for you to sing with your students to help them learn the parts of plants.

Do You Know the Parts of Plants?
Courtesy of Got Dirt? Wisconsin
[Sung to: "Do you know the Muffin Man"]

Do you know the parts of plants, parts of plants, parts of plants?
Do you know the parts of plants that grow in your garden?

The seeds get planted in the ground, planted in the ground, planted in the ground.
The seeds get planted in the ground, to grow food in my garden.

The roots hold the plant in place, the plant in place, the plant in place.
The roots hold the plant in place and give it food and water.

The stems bring water to the leaves, water to the leaves, water to the leaves.
The stems bring water to the leaves and reach toward the sun.

The leaves make food for the plant, food for the plant, food for the plant.
The leaves make food for the plant and help it grow in the garden.

The fruit on the plant is yummy to eat, yummy to eat, yummy to eat.
The fruit on the plant is yummy to eat and help me grow like my garden.

Now I know the parts of the plants, parts of the plants, parts of the plants.
Now I know the parts of the plants that grow in my garden!