Plants in the Classroom
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Teaching with varieties of materials makes for the best lessons! Incorporating plants into the classroom is not a new idea, but taking it outside of science class is. Classroom pets may have been kept in the past, but classroom plants can be just as useful and fun to learn about. Students need to understand that plants exist in their everyday life besides on their lawn or that tree they climb in the playground. Plants can be incorporated into all academic areas whether reading and writing about leaf change or graphing the height of a bean sprout. As teachers, it is our responsibility to expose and educate our students on the world they live in. Teaching about plants can be done to all grades and the material can become more advanced and have real life applications. Students need to be aware of what plants do for us and how they are an important part of our ecological system. Also, students should recognize how plants function in our economy. This means using plants as current events; although political news is important, food recalls can be just as important as a current event article. Students can understand what is happening in agriculture and how it will affect their health. For this reason we decided to look at plants in all different realms:

Red Kidney Bean Plant

Life Cycle (Red Kidney Beans)-

Red Kidney bean plants are useful in many ways and it is important to expose children to these plants and how they are developed. In the classroom, children can have the opportunity to actually grow these red kidney bean plants and keep track of their growth process through using a growth log. Also it is important for children to understand the life cycle that the red kidney bean plant goes through in order to become what we eat as humans. In teaching children about the life cycles of red kidney beans, opens their eyes up to the many things that are growing around them in their own environment. Through providing students the appropriate knowledge they need in observing the life cycle of the red kidney bean plant while at the same time observing the actual event taking place in the classroom is amazing and inspiring for the students!

Senses (Peppermint)-
Plants play an integral role in our environment and have multiple purposes. All plants have distinct features that can be discovered by using our five senses. Plants have unique physical features that we can see, some have distinct scents that we can smell, other plants have interesting textures that we can touch, and some even have different flavors that we can taste. By using our five senses, we can learn about different plants and the characteristics they possess. Children use their senses everyday to learn about the world around them. Thus, this five senses lesson was chosen to teach students how to use their senses in order to learn more about the environment in which they live in. In the lesson, students are investigating peppermint and basil, and must use their senses to make scientific observations and predictions about the two plants. By using their five senses, students will learn that basil and peppermint have some similar traits, but also have distinct characteristics that differentiates the two.

Cooking (Basil)-

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Plants make their way into our daily lives especially through food. It is important that students know where their food came from and what nutritional value certain foods. Students should be instilled with the thought that they are active consumers and should learn to question and discover about their foods. For this reason, basil was chosen to be a plant that has many varieties and makes its way into many dishes across cultures. The plant can be grown in the classroom and having children participate in growing and learning about it is a great way to engage students. Using a culinary approach allows the teacher to bring in mathematics as well when learning how much to cook with.

Gardening (Tomatoes)-

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When working in the classroom, its important for children to learn how to garden and ways to become involved with the environment. Tomatoes are a healthy fruit and good for us to eat. This is an exciting fruit for children to learn how to plant and to watch grow. The students are able to watch the life cycle of a tomato plant; such as watching how the fruit forms, learning about the seeds, and even apply this knowledge on gardening other fruits, flowers, or vegetables. Tomatoes are an important fruit in our diet and this is a fun activity that allows the students to explore hands on with the tomato plant and to learn more about it.

Air Purifiers (Spider Plant)

Spider Plant

Certain house plants can have a positive effect on the environment. The spider plant, one of the most popular house plants, has been proven to absorb harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Students may have seen spider plants in homes before, but had no idea how beneficial the hanging plant actually could be. Spider plants are easy to take care of as well. It is important that students are educated on ways to take care of the environment, and ensure that the planet they live in is healthy. The environmental effects of plants are not well known, so it is important to educate others to allow them to do their part in "going green."

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Additional Ways to Teach about Plants

Nutrition-keep nutrition fact cut outs from boxes and compare them. Have students explain what foods they are eating that are healthy versus unhealthy foods based on their knowledge gained from reading the nutritional fact cut outs.

Have students grow their own bean sprout and keep a journal on its progress including graphing the growth with growth logs.

Soil experiments-try growing them in different types of soil and instead of giving water try different liquids

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Global warming lesson and how within their households they can “go green!”

Recycling-mark bins in your room with students help on what items belong where

Weather-instead of just what is the weather out today, take time to explain weather changes and signs of good or bad weather