Learning more about plants at Gardner Street and Lenicia Weemes Elementary Schools!

The past couple of weeks at Gardner Street Elementary and Lenicia Weemes Elementary Schools have been very productive!  Students learned about the different parts of a plant, including the roots, stem, leaves, flower, fruit, and seed.  In doing so, they not only furthered their scientific knowledge, but also practiced teamwork and leadership!

Before the lesson, classroom teachers divided their students into three garden groups.  Once in the garden, each group was assigned the task of collectively deciding upon a group name that reminded them of the garden.  While some groups were able to unanimously decide upon a name, others put it to a vote.  Names ranged from great classics like the “Juicy Tomatoes” or the “Hummingbirds” to super creative collaborations.  One Kindergarten group combined their favorite bees with their favorite birds to create the “Honeybirds”.  Another innovative 4th and 5th grade group combined their love for peppers, zucchini, watermelon, and tomatoes and came up with…the “Spicy Zatermatoes”!

Older students worked in groups to test their knowledge and diagram a plant of their own.  Drawing upon individual skills, each group selected a writer, drawer, and presenter.  However, everyone had a chance to participate by sharing their own knowledge of plants.  Some students even identified additional parts of a flower, such as petals, pistils, and pollen!

Younger students worked as a class with the Garden Ranger to learn about the parts of a plant.  Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, friendly visitors (puppets) of the garden, kept the students engaged as they buzzed around, landing on different plant parts.  Students learned how to distinguish parts of a plant based on where it was growing, what it looked like, and other characteristics.

Students explored the garden, identifying and harvesting different parts of the plants.  Students harvested plenty of tomato fruits, zucchini, and basil and mint leaves, which were tossed into a delicious salad complete with hummus, celery stems, carrots, a touch of sea salt, and a side of sunflower seeds. Students were asked to identify what part of the plants they were eating as they enjoyed their snack. Both students and teachers loved the healthy treat!

Students harvested and cut up vegetables to make into a salad!

Students harvested and cut up vegetables to make into a salad!

The following week in the garden, students reviewed and reinforced their knowledge. They matched pictures of fruits and vegetables to the correct part of plant.  Depending on their grade level, student groups were given 1 – 3 pictures of different fruits and vegetables, such as an apple, cauliflower, carrot, and more.  Working in their small groups, students discussed their ideas of what part of a plant each fruit or vegetable might be.  Groups then selected students to paste each picture on a diagram of a plant in the front of the class, matching the pictures to the correct plant parts.

Students were then introduced to winter and summer garden plants and discussed how to know the difference between the two Los Angeles seasons. Students were invited to choose a winter or summer plant, and then as the teacher described a season, they students had to act out either growing tall or shrinking down to become dormant. Children learn and retain information when they are able to use their bodies.

Garden Ranger Traci Demuth showing off some summer fruits!

Garden Ranger Traci showing off summer fruits that the students harvested from the garden!

Students then participated in tending to the garden and even planted some winter vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli into seedling trays. Third and Sixth grade students are caring for the seedlings until they are big enough to transplant to the garden!

Students turn over and add nutrients to the soil in preparation for winter plantings!

Students turn over and add nutrients to the soil in preparation for winter plantings!