With winter long gone, spring has taken over and is in full charge. With the changing of the seasons it's a great time to introduce and talk about some of these changes the children might see. Children will notice some of the major differences, such as the weather getting warmer and the trees starting to grow buds. It's great to help children understand and know that the environment changes around them as the season changed too. So I gave the children the opportunity to witness these changes by giving them seeds to investigate. I wanted them to understand how the seed started, as they will observer its change to what it will become as it grows. They looked at the seeds and noticed they were not all the same, so I created a game for the children to identify what plant the seeds belonged to. The package that the seeds came in had the vegetable pictured on the front and the children hypothesize which vegetable belonged to which seed. They would take the packet and place it in front of the seeds they thought it belonged to. Some children made the right choices and others did not, and that's what happens when children or anyone is making educated guesses.
Some children investigated a bit further with the seeds on their own. They used magnify glasses to look at the differences and make observational drawings of the seeds to visually distinguish the differences they saw. Some traced the seed or speckled their paper with dots to resemble the many tiny carrot seeds. They would use their hands to feel what the seeds felt like from each other. Some children decided to use the microscopes to really get a look at what the seeds looked like up close. Once the children were done exploring the seeds our focus turned to what we should do with the seeds. Naturally, it brought us to the children wanting to choose some seeds and plant them. So planting them is exactly what we did. I let the children pick one seed each and we planted them in little cardboard starter cups, watered them and placed them in the window. Most of the children had a wonderful understanding of the three basic needs for a plant's survival. I asked them what plants needed to help them grow,and the children responded that plants need sun, water, and soil to help them grow.
All the children that have come into the STEAM room across the board have shown interest in the tools and building. Most of the children have had lots of experience with using hammers and real nails, so it was no surprise for the children on how to use the tools properly and safely for the next part. A couple weeks after we planted our seeds, we looked and noticed they were just beginning to sprout. We talked about what would happen when they grew bigger and where they would go. Through our discussion it was decided that they needed to be moved to a bigger housing area. I showed them a plant box I had created and asked if they wanted to create a box like this one. We looked and observed the box I had made, seeing how long the pieces were, what was used to attach those pieces together and where the nails were hammered in . We found wood pieces that matched the already created box. The children got a hammer and we started nailing the wood pieces together. The previous times that the children used the tools they were testing how to use them and understanding how they feel and work with various materials. Now they were using the tools to make something instead of experimenting, and that made them very excited. They were putting their skills of measuring, hammering, sawing, and problem solving to great use to get their boxes completed. Every class that participated in this planting project created their own box and eventually decorated them.
When all the classes finished building their boxes, it was time to transfer the plants to their new boxed home. They filled the boxes with soil all the way to the very top. We noticed that their plants were growing and at how big they had gotten. We compared them to how other plants looked and tried to identify what plants were similar to each other and which ones were different at the stages they were at in their development. We looked at the seeds we planted weeks ago to see how they changed from a seed to what they were now, so the children could remember what the plant was and get a perspective on the growth that has been happening. We pulled the cardboard off from around the plant and looked at the soil. We noticed that some of the plants had these "stringy white things" poking out. A lot of children didn't know what it was, but a few knew it was the roots of the plant. After they pondered what the purpose of the roots was, I explained that they help drink the water from the soil when we water the plants. We opened holes in the soil of the children's planter box so we could place in their freshly budding plants. I had to mentioned how important it was that we handle the plants gently when transferring them and make sure we don't bend or squash their plants. It's valuable for children to understand that we need to take care of these plants and keep the plants safe so they can grow big and strong, just as we take care or ourselves.
After all the classes transferred their plants to their boxes, it has been routine for the classes to come in to tend to their plants by watering them every couple days. Some classes were able to take their boxes to their classes because their rooms had the luxury of getting the sun most of the day. Now the children are excitedly waiting for their plants to start producing vegetables for them to eat and enjoy. To take a look back at all the hard work all the classes put into getting to where we are now is amazing. All the information and skills that these children have learned, and having their own personal curiosities answered during this whole process - all of this will stay with them. While walking around the school, some children ask how their plants are doing, and to satisfy their interest ,I bring them in so they can take a look. They come in with delight and happy faces, seeing their plants are doing well and are still growing. It's wonderful for children to have this opportunity to go in depth with plants, because when you watch children make connections with nature its really obvious to see that it makes them happy.