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:

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

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:

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.

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:

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!


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


--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

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!