Winter Workshops

Just because the gardens are sleeping for the winter doesn’t mean doesn’t mean that I’m hibernating as well.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to do some teaching this winter as well.  I started back at Blake after the winter holidays, and it’s great to be back.  And amazing to see how much the students have grown since November!  And, exciting news from last week is that I’m now not only the Garden Lady, I’ll also soon be the Compost Lady at Blake.  I’m starting to work on a compost and waste diversion project this winter and spring as well, which I’m really excited about.  But more on that in a later post.

I’ve got a variety of classroom activities that can be done in any season, and winter is of course the idea time for these, since there’s not much to be done out in the garden.  I planned three 3-week cycles to get us from the winter holidays to March Break.  Right now we’re in the middle of cycle 2.  The theme cycle 1 was “Where does our food come from?”.  This took a variety of different forms, depending on the grade level.  With kindergartens, we did an intro lesson about plant parts, inspired by FoodShare’s “Plant Part Yoga” activity, where we act out the life cycle of a plant from seed to fruit back to seed.  With elementary grades, we played some matching games to learn about where different foods come from/what foods are made of (for example, cheese comes from milk comes from cows, bread is made of flour which is made of wheat…).  We also learned about what parts of plants we eat (e.g. carrots are roots, lettuce is leaves, celery is a stem…).  With grade 4s, we looked at different food chains and webs that exist in our garden (looking at plants, herbivores, omnivores, carnivores and decomposers).  And with the oldest grades, we did an activity called “Mapping a Meal”, which is from a wonderful book called Get Growing!  This activity starts by looking at a familiar multi-ingredient food (e.g. pizza) and tracing all ingredients back to the plants that they came from (including meat and cheese, where the animals ate plants).  The students then work in groups to trace a simpler foods path through the food system, and ends with a discussion about the complexity of the food system.  I really like this activity, as it really gets the older students thinking and discussing.

The theme for cycle 2 is “Seeds”.  With kindergartens, we’ve been doing a seed-to-plant matching art activity.  With grade 2s and 3s, we were “seed detectives”, making observations about different types of seeds and comparing them, and also dissecting pre-soaked bean seeds to check out the different parts of a seed.  It’s amazing how excited grade 2s and 3s get about being “detectives” and using magnifying glasses!  With grade 6s, we looked at heirlooms and biodiversity, and then did an activity where they role-played working for a seed company.  This activity is from another great resource called Patterns Through the Seasons.  (Great resource, but if you’re going to use it, be aware that the formatting is off in some places.  So if you’re planning on using the activity cards for the Seed Company Role play activity, make sure the pictures match the descriptions before you print.)  And with the rest of the classes in this cycle, we’re doing some sprouting (in jars).   I have yet to hear any reports about the kids tasting the sprouts, but am looking forward to hearing how it went.  (Since I’m only at the school one day per week, I help start the sprouts, but then it’s up to the teachers and students to take care of them.)

I’m currently in the middle of cycle 2, so I will write about cycle 3 once I’m there.  But to get you excited, the theme will be composting and worms!

And to finish off today’s post, I’ve got a couple of good seed books to recommend (there are tons of good ones out there, but these are two that I’ve been using a lot lately).  A Seed is Sleepy is absolutely beautiful, and a good introduction to different types of seeds.  Another good one with rhymes and guessing is “What kinds of Seeds Are These?”  Enjoy, and please share any other seed-themed books that you like.

Happy growing!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Very very interesting!


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