Winter is beginning, which makes us think of staying indoors and keeping out of the wind and weather. Many children and even adults begin to miss being outside in nature during these short days. Regardless of religion or background, everyone can appreciate the ancient practice of bringing a tree or bough inside the house this time of year to remind us of the springtime to come. Ancient Egyptians brought palm rushes into their homes, symbolizing for them the triumph of life over sickness and death. For many ancient cultures, evergreen plants held special meaning, reminding people that the days will get longer, and the sun will bring life to all crops and plants once again.
Because the weather outside may be frightful, it is perhaps even more intriguing for students to examine the wonders of forestry, seed germination, and plant propagation this time of year with these fun activities and books. Your students will love to explore nature by bringing just a little of it indoors for close observation and measurement.
Trees are not just for making paper. This beautifully illustrated story of a boy and his grandfather, who is a tree farmer. The book takes readers on a magical journey through the forest, discovering the gift of trees and our responsibility to care for them, generation to generation. This story is followed by a lesson in which students learn about the many different ways trees are used and how they affect our daily lives.
Propagation and Regeneration in Plants Lesson, Grades 2-9
Many plants from seeds, but many others grow from cuttings, or propagation, usually in a greenhouse setting. Potatoes, garlic, celery, beets can all develop from cuttings, as well as herbs like basil or mint. While sprouts make take some patience to develop, these propagation techniques are a long-term lesson through measurement charts and journal entries.
Living Necklaces Lesson and Kit, Grades K-5
Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom travels to many student festivals and events, and this tangible activity is a crowd-pleaser. Even if students have done this in the past, it’s always a new and exciting activity for them to see a seed germinate in a tiny jewelry bag, and then to take care of their emerging embryo even in indoor settings. In fact, we received the photo below from a student who planted her germinated beanstalk into a container of soil, also indoors, which then set flowers and made more beans! This is a wonderful way to introduce the magic of plant growth to very young students, and teach them about what plants need to germinate.
Monocots and Dicots Lesson, Grades 3-8
Short for monocotyledon and dicotyledon, these two groups of flowering plants have been historically differentiated due to their embryonic cotyledon number, as well as vascular system and major plant family differences. This lesson provides a great intro to plant classification and observing traits of these two groups.
Garden in a Glove Lesson and Kit, Grades K-5
This free lesson and kit takes germination to another level by watching different types of seeds germinate in a clear plastic glove. Young students are keen observers and love to compare and contrast by nature. Not only can they watch tiny cotyledons form in this lesson’s free clear gloves, but students can watch and measure the appearance, germination and growth-time differences between the common crop seed that comes in the kit.
Seed, Soil, Sun Kit and Lesson Plan, Grades K-4
This beautiful Free Loan Library book and free kit describe the miraculous process of air and water combining with seeds, soil and sunlight to create nearly all the food we eat. In the book, photos describe what parts of a plant students are eating and the process of photosynthesis. The Seed, Soil, Sun kit which can be ordered from Oregon AITC allows students to watch different types of seeds germinate and grow roots and shoots through a clear cup. Also can be a long-term lesson through growth measurement charts and journal entries.
There are so many free resources in our Free Loan Library and AITC Lesson Plans. We also put together the School Garden Resource Guide with numerous websites that our teachers and partners have found helpful. Find something that brings the outside in today, and use plants to inspire from inside the warm classroom!