Young gardeners discover their green thumbs

Karen Donato, Special to The County
7 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Students in Katie Fitzpatrick’s second grade class at Houlton Elementary School participated in a gardening project under the direction of former teacher, Nancy Wright, who is also a member of the Maine Agri-Women.

The project started the first of April. The students planted seeds and watched them sprout. While they were growing, they wrote and recorded data, incorporating art and math skills. They drew and labeled diagrams for a variety of seeds. They learned what happens when food coloring is added to water and the water travels up the stem to carnation blossoms. They made predictions.

The students did a lot of research to learn about the life-cycle of a seed, what a seed needs to germinate and what it needs to grow and produce a plant, fruit or vegetable. The class brainstormed what they already knew and asked questions about things they weren’t sure of.

The students developed a bulletin board with a chart of vocabulary words, drawings of seeds and their maturity. They did earthworm art using chocolate pudding.

With the use of the classroom smartboard the students watched time-lapse videos to observe the growth of the plant into a flower blossom, vegetable or fruit.

Students read and used information from books, articles, seed catalogs and seed packets to further expand their knowledge of being a good gardener. With the knowledge they gained they have a better understanding of plant life and the importance of being a good conservator of land, the importance of farming and the need for growing plants and vegetables.

As a culminating activity each student’s work was compiled into a booklet by literacy coach Janet Murakami with a dedication written from Ms. Fitzpatrick and the class for Mrs. Wright in appreciation for her work with the class. A thank-you note was also written to her that read as follows:

“Dear Mrs. Wright, Thank you very much for teaching us about the amazing world of plants. You have taught us about science, math, reading and writing, but most importantly you taught us how to take care of our planet Earth and make it a more beautiful place. We are dedicating our plant books to you!”

To personalize their booklets, each child wrote their own introduction.

Ryan Perfitt’s was entitled “All From A Seed.”

“Did you know all plants start with a seed? Yes, all plants start from a tiny seed. Trees, flowers, vegetables, all of it starts from a tiny, tiny seed. When they are fully grown, flowers make a great decoration for the middle of you table. And some plants, you can even make a meal and serve it to your friends and family!”

Hope Nickerson explained in her booklet, “How to Grow Daisies.”

“First we put the seed starting mix in the cells. We made a hole in each cell, put a seed in and covered it. We watered the soil, then put the seeds in the plant nursery. Then we waited until our plants germinated and sprouted. Then we put them in the sunlight. We took pictures of all our sprouts. We watered them. Every day the plants got bigger and stronger. Finally, I will have daisies this summer. I will keep watering them every day and keep them in the window. It will be nice to give them to my Grammie Clark because I love her.”

Hunter Grant wrote a poem for his. “What is a plant? What is a plant’s meaning? What is a seed’s miracle? How does a plant look? They are amazing things! Plants are really cool! All plants grow! Plants do die, too! Plants give us nectar! Then bees take the nectar. Then the bees drop the pollen into the flower and help make more plant seeds. The birds spread seeds all over the ground. Then more plants grow.”

Each booklet also included a seed packet from Burpee’s Bee Garden. On the back of the packet was a note from the Department of the Interior of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who thanked W. Atlee Burpee & Company for their donation of the seed package in support of the President’s National Pollinator Initiative. As pollinators thrive and multiply, our nation will benefit.

“Did you know that every third bite of food we eat is due to pollinators? It’s true! Honey bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators help grow our food, keep our flowers blooming and make our lands healthy. However, for many reasons, including lack of habitat, pollinators are struggling.”

President Obama directed all federal agencies to assist in pollinator conservation to protect the health of our nation’s food security and keep bees, birds and butterflies flying. The President’s National Pollinator Initiative is committed to sustaining the future of pollinators through research, policy, education and action.

After this project, the Earth has some budding stewards ready to take more care of their environment.