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!

  • Garden stakes
  • Laminated trivia/facts
  • Glue

  • 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.


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. 


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.

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


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Grant: 2010 Subaru Healthy Sprouts Awards

Subaru, in conjunction with The National Gardening Association, is now accepting applications for the 2010 Subaru Healthy Sprouts Awards.

Awards will be given to 30 schools and organizations planning to start a garden in 2011.  A minimum of 15 students ages 3-18 must participate in the garden.  Applications must demonstrate the "relationship between the garden program and education related to environmental, nutrition and hunger issues in the United States."

As stated on its website, grant recipients will receive,
  • "a $500 gift certificate to the Gardening with Kids catalog and online store for basic youth gardening supplies and supporting educational material.
  • NGA's Eat a Rainbow Kit, chock full of engaging taste education and nutrition lessons
  • a literature package from NGA"
For more information, click here, and to receive an application, click here

Applications are due by Oct. 1, 2010.

Apply today to make that school garden dream a reality!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thank You Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, below is a poem expressing our gratitude and thanks for everything you do!

A Teacher for All Seasons
--Joanna Fuchs

A teacher is like Spring,
Who nurtures new green sprouts,
Encourages them and leads them,
Whenever they have doubts.

A teacher is like Summer,
Whose sunny temperament
Make studying a pleasure,
Preventing discontent.

A teacher is like Fall,
With methods crisp and clear,
Lessons of bright colors
And a happy atmosphere.

A teacher is like Winter,
While it's snowing hard outside,
Keeping students comfortable,
As a warm and helpful guide.

Teacher, you do all these things,
With a pleasant attitude;
You're a teacher for all seasons,
And you have my gratitude!