Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Activity: Got Dirt? T-Shirts

With this fun and easy activity, children will make their own Got Dirt? gardening t-shirts.  The t-shirts will be perfect to wear while working out in the garden.

  • T-shirts
  • Fabric paints
  • Paint brushes, sponges, etc.
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Permanent Marker
  • Before having students decorate the t-shirt, write each child's name on the t-shirt using a permanent marker.
  • Give each student a t-shirt, some fabric paints and paint brushes.
  • Have each student decorate their t-shirt with pictures of fruits and vegetables that will be in the garden.
    • Don't forget to have them write "Got Dirt?" on the t-shirt!
  • Place the completed t-shirts in a safe place to dry before wearing.
After decorating the t-shirts, students can wear them while working in the garden.  Students will enjoy wearing the t-shirts and parents will like that the students' regular clothes aren't getting muddy!

Work Cited:
Thumb Print Garden T-Shirts

Monday, March 29, 2010

Activity: Making Seed Packets

Teaching students what plants need to grow is an important lesson that can accompany any school gardening project.

  • Paper
  • Markers, crayons, etc.
  • Seeds
  • Glue or staples
  • Research materials, if applicable
  • To make the seed packet, have each student take a piece of 8 1/2" x 11" paper and fold it in half.  Glue the edges of the paper together expect for one edge at the top.  The unglued edge will be where you add your seeds.
  • Instruct students to decorate their seed packets by drawing a picture of their fruit/vegetable and writing the name of the fruit/vegetable on one side.  Students can either invent their own fruit or vegetable or research real fruits and vegetables.
  • On the other side of the packet, students should write the planting and growing instructions for their plant.  For example:
    • What does the plant need to grow? 
    • How/where should it be planted?
    • What will it look like once it grows?
    • How long will it take to grow?
  • Once students are done decorating their seed packets, add seeds and seal it by gluing the remaining edge.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grant: Yes to Carrots Garden Challenge

Yes To, Inc has just announced its Yes to Carrots Garden Challenge, which will help schools start a new garden or improve an existing school garden

Yes to Carrots "believes in finding fun and interactive ways to teach kids about the importance of healthy eating and connect with Mother Nature.  Creating school gardens brings this philosophy to kids in a very direct way--giving them the tools to grow their own delicious food and learn about leading healthier lifestyles!"

The winner of the challenge will receive a Seed Fund Grant for $5,000, one-year gift of gardening supplies from the Kellogg Foundation, and a dedicated message from the "Garden Ambassador" Emmanuelle Chriqui. 

To apply, applicants must submit a video or an essay explaining why their school should have a Yes to Carrots Garden.  For additional details, click here or here.

Applications must be submitted by May 20th, 2010.  The winner will be announced May 26th, 2010.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feedback and Suggestions

The Got Dirt? Blog was created to provide easy to use lesson plans and activities to help incorporate a school garden into your classroom.  I would appreciate if you took a few minutes to let us know how we are doing and provide any feedback or suggestions.

Thank you!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Activity: Seed & Spoon Race

We can all remember doing an egg and spoon race as a child where we frantically ran back and forth trying  not to let our delicate egg topple to the floor. 

In a garden twist to this classic game, the egg is replaced with seeds. 

  • Spoons
  • Bowls
  • Seeds [Note: Choose larger seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin, or bean seeds, so that they are easier to clean up]
  • Divide the class into teams.
  • Give each team a spoon and one bowl filled with seeds.
  • Have the teams line up on one side of the room.
  • Place an empty bowl across the room from each team.
  • Instruct one player from each team to scoop a spoonful of seeds and carefully run/walk across the room to dump them into his/her team's empty bowl.  If the student drops any seeds, he/she has to start over.
  • After the team member puts the seeds in the bowl, he/she returns to the team and hands the spoon to the next player.
  • The first team to complete the relay race with the most seeds in their bowl wins.
  • Instead of seeing who can dump the most seeds into his/her team's bowl, have students take a spoonful of seeds and, in a more traditional egg/spoon race fashion, transfer the seeds between teammates.  Each player must run/walk to one side of the room and back and then transfer the seeds to the next player.  The team that completes the relay race the fastest with the most seeds wins.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day I thought I would post some Irish blessings/quotes.  Enjoy!

"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And my trouble avoid you wherever you go."

"May you always find three welcomes...
In a garden in the summer,
At a fireside during the winter,
and whatever the day of the season,
In the kind eyes of a friend."

"There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle,
'Twas St. Patrick himself, sure, that sets it;
And the sun of his labor with pleasures did smile,
And with dew from his eyes often wet it.
It grows through the bog, through the brake through the mireland,
Andy they call it the dear little Shamrock of Ireland."

"For each petal of the shamrock
This brings a wish your way,
Good health, good luck and happiness
For today and every day."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

School Garden Grant Opportunities

Spring is almost here and so is a new crop of school garden grant opportunities. 

Bayer Advance: Forever Growing Garden Poster Contest
  • Who: K-12 students
  • What: Create a poster that represents how gardens have changed over time, and the positive impact that gardens have on individuals, communities and the planet.
  • Deadline: April 15, 2010
  • Prize: $1,500 grand prize and two $250 honorable mentions
  • Details: Click here for a poster describing the contest and here for additional details, guidelines, etc.
Adopt-a-Plant for Your Classroom Project
  • What: Include a plant in your classroom and have students come up with a creative name for it.  Sign an "adoption" certificate with the plant's name and take a picture of your class with your plant.
  • Deadline: March 19, 2010 <--Put on those thinking caps! This deadline is coming up quickly
  • Prize: $50 to start a classroom garden
  • Details: Additional details, including the "adoption" certificate can be found here
The above grants are made possible through GEF, the Green Education Foundation.  Their website features lots of useful resources, lesson plans, and ideas.  Be sure to check it out!

Nature Hills Nursery Green America Award
  • Who: Groups/organizations making a difference in the community by improving the environment.
  • What: The project's goal is to help communities create an environmental oasis, such as a community or school garden.
  • Deadline: April 1, 2010
  • Prize: Grand Prize: $2,500 of plant materials (such as trees, shrubs, perennials, and vegetables seeds); First Place: $1,500 of plant materials; Second Place: $1,000 of plant materials
  • Details: Check out the Nature Hills Nursery website for additional application information.
Got Dirt? Garden Initiative Evaluation Assistance Grant
  • Who: Teachers and childcare providers who have attended a Got Dirt? training session. 
  • What: Two classes will participate in the grant.  One class will participate in a school gardening project and the other class will act as a "control" group by not participating in any gardening.  Both groups will complete surveys.
  • Deadline: Rolling application process
  • Prize: $400 towards starting a new school garden
  • Details: Additional details available on the Got Dirt? website

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dreaming of Spring!

Spring is in the air, which can only mean one thing!  It's time to brush off those gardening gloves, gather your tools, pick an assortment of seeds, and start planning your school garden!

While our fellow gardeners across the country may already be digging in the dirt, this is Wisconsin after all, and we all know that we will probably see snow before it is officially spring.

However, it doesn't mean that we can't dream about our soon-to-be garden! 

Have you started planning your school garden? If so, what will you plant?  How many children will be involved in your school garden?  Are your students excited?

Or, do you have questions as you plan your school garden?  No problem! Leave a comment below and one of your fellow school gardeners may have the perfect solution to your problem!

If you're a school gardening pro, what advice do you have for beginning school gardeners?

To date, we have had more than 300 teachers and childcare providers attend training sessions to learn to start a school garden.  We're hoping that school gardens will start sprouting up across the state!

Share your grand plans and school garden dreams below!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Activity: Veggie Twister!

This fun activity teaches kids about their fruits and vegetables and is a great form of physical activity.  In a "twist" to the classic game, students have fun and learn to identify their fruits/veggies.

  • Colored pictures of red, yellow, orange and green fruits and veggies
    • Examples:
      • Red: apples, strawberries, tomatoes, cherries, tomatoes
      • Yellow: bananas, corn, lemons, pineapple
      • Orange: pumpkin, orange, carrots, cantaloupe
      • Green: lettuce, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers
  • Clear shower curtain
  • Tape
  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Brad
  1. Print out images of fruits and vegetables so that there are four images of each color
  2. Tape the images to the clear shower curtain in a grid pattern.  [See below]
  3. Create the spinner using poster board [See below]
    • Cut a 12 x 12 inch square out of poster board
    • With the marker, divide the poster board into four sections labeled: Right Hand, Left Hand, Right Leg, Left Leg
    • In each quadrant, draw four circles representing the four colors of the fruits and veggies
    • Cut an arrow out of poster board and attach using the brad

  1. Lay the shower curtain on the floor with the images facing up
  2. Each time, spin the spinner to identify which body part goes on which color (Example: "Right hand yellow")
  3. Have each student shout out the name of the fruit/veggie they place their hand/foot on (Example: "Corn!")
  4. If a student falls onto the mat or their knee or elbow touches the mat, they are eliminated
  5. Continue until only one student remains
  • Other types of images can be used on the mat.  For example: Use images of various parts of the plant or items from the food pyramid. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting Parents Involved in School Gardens

Parents can be a vital asset to the success of your school garden.  I was recently asked how to involve parents in a school garden project and thought I would share a few suggestions. 

Feel free to add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.

  • Have parents donate gardening tools. Parents may have extra tools lying around that they don’t need. Donations save money instead of having to buy new tools. Parents can put their names on tools and pick them up after the gardening season is over.  By donating tools, parents will feel more invested in the project.

  • Invite parents to help plant/care for/harvest the garden. Create a volunteer schedule. Send information home in a letter or newsletter; provide specific tasks so parents know how to get involved.

  • Host a garden party.  It can be a planting/harvesting party where everyone works in the garden.  Or simply invite parents to tour the garden.  Students can show the parents around and tell them what they have learned.  Again, seeing the children get excited may encourage parents to pitch in.

  • Invite parents to plan the garden. Involve them in the process early on to make them feel invested.

  • Allow students to take fresh produce home. It may get parents more excited about the garden.

  • Invite a parent to come in and cook with produce from the garden.

  • Invite a parent to come in and read a children’s book about gardening.  Click here for a list of recommended books.

  • If a parent is a gardener, have the students interview him/her and ask for advice/tips for their garden.   

  • Don't forget about your PTA/PTO organization, which can be a great resource for funding ideas or volunteers!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March School Garden Ideas

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

It's the beginning of March, which means spring is on its way! Below are some suggestions for incorporating a garden into your classroom for the month of March.

  • March 1-May 3: The Great American Cleanup--A time to beautify parks and recreation areas, plant trees and flowers, and pick up litter.  Take this time to clean up your local park or start to prepare your outdoor garden for planting.

  • March 11: Johnny Appleseed Day--Read a story about Johnny Appleseed and have an apple-themed day.  Taste different types of apples, discuss how apples grow, and make apple art!

  • March 17: St. Patrick's Day--You may have heard of a fairy garden, but why not create a leprechaun garden!  Think miniature! Have children imagine the leprechauns in the garden and write a story about their mischievous ways!

  • March 20: National Agriculture Day--Discuss Agriculture in Wisconsin.  Invite a farmer or gardener to visit your class.  Have students eat food made in Wisconsin.  Discuss all of the ways that agriculture impacts us daily.

  • March 26: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day--Have students brainstorm ideas for a new holiday and what they would do to celebrate it.  Get creative and use it as a day to celebrate your garden!

  • March 30: Take a Walk in the Park Day--Go for a walk and identify different types of plants.  Identify trees and their plant parts.  Walk through your garden and have students plan what they want to plant.
Do you have ideas on how to incorporate a garden into the classroom? We'd love to hear your ideas! Share below!