Good morning, friends! It's a beautiful sunny day here in Buffalo, NY and I think we are finally out of the woods here with snow (isn't that sad?!) It's about time. This is the time of year when everybody's mental health soars and you realize that people actually live in the house next door to you! In my classroom, April is the month when we focus on planting and healthy eating! Planting is one of the themes that my grade level does every year together. We get a nice little kit shipped to us filled with soil and seeds and all the fixings for a planting unit.
Last year I started incorporating healthy eating into my planting unit because I realized how many of my kids had little or no exposure to fruits and vegetables. When I asked my class what their favorite fruit was one of them said "punch"....YIKES!!!! I thought what better unit to incorporate healthy eating and nutrition than during our planting unit? Let's learn about what a healthy food is AND where it comes from! I am so envious of some of the really progressive districts in the country who have nutrition as part of their regular curriculum (and I don't mean teaching the food pyramid like when we were kids...) Next year I want to invite some local farmers to our classroom for a "farm to table" presentation to teach the kids where food comes from.
This unit takes me about four weeks to complete- approximately two weeks of planting and two weeks of healthy eating. We start with planting (so we can get those seeds in the soil and watch them grow!) and then we slowly start incorporating fruits and vegetables into our discussions. Some of my little friends are even brave enough to taste some new foods!
To introduce plants we read lots of children's books about seeds and planting. Fantastic Fun and Learning has an awesome roundup of book titles that are great for your planting unit.
One of the best resources for teaching planting to this age group is the videos from Brain Pop Jr. Moby and friends explain plants, the plant life cycle and plant adaptations in a very age appropriate way. I just love that Moby!
We plant lima bean seeds in plastic bags and spray them with water and peroxide (to stop them from getting moldy.) After a few days the roots start to grow in the bags and the seed begins to sprout!
We plant grass seed in planting cups and make hypotheses about what plants need to grow. We keep the grass in different parts of our classroom.
- In direct sunlight with water
- In direct sunlight without water
- In a dark closet with water
- In a dark closet without water
When we kick off the healthy eating portion of our unit, we start by brainstorming the names of all of the fruits and vegetables that we know. It's fun to hear that the kids have learned some new fruits and vegetables just by reading books about gardening and seeds lately!
Then we get tasting! This is my favorite part of the whole unit. Depending on your classroom allergy situation, you can bring in a variety of fruits and vegetables- some to touch and some to taste. I was so proud of my little friends for being brave and trying so many new foods! Some were a little harder to convince but some of them were willing to try everything.
After we've become somewhat pros on planting, we learn about Tops and Bottoms using this great story: Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens. If you don't already have it, it's a MUST for your classroom library! You can also show this video of Tops and Bottoms being read-aloud.
Here is our tops and bottoms sorting chart!