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Adventures in 2nd Grade

Last week, I was invited to the 2nd grade classroom in my daughter's school to talk about plants. I love getting kids excited about plants and growing stuff. I decided to come up with something to help the students think about where their food comes from, i.e. which plant parts we are eating when we eat our fruits and veggies and how does it grow? Is it a root, stem, leaf or flower? Having just covered plants in science, they were hip to that jive. And I also wanted to leave them with an enthusiasm for growing some edible plants for themselves next spring and summer. 

I started with an exercise that had them cut out pictures of plant parts to build a plant of their own design. The handout is from an awesome lesson book called 'Minnesota School Gardens: A Guide to Gardening and Plant Science', which I found through the Minnesota Department of Ag website. Find more info and resources about the MN Agriculture in the Classroom program, click here
I encouraged the kids to color or decorate their plants any way they wished and to give their plants names that they could share with the class if they wanted.

This kid knows his plant parts.
Look, this guy is already a farmer! Love it! (It was wacky hat day, apparently.)
The plant on the left produces money and pizza, the one on the right, cheese. Another kid told me his plant could make him travel through time. 2nd Graders are geniuses.
Another pizza plant. Hmmm, noticing a trend here.
Next, I made columns for root, stem, leaf and flower on the chalk board and had the students help me list which parts of the plant we are eating for each of the veggies and fruits I had brought with me. I tried to bring uncut examples of things, and then some already cut and cleaned for sampling later. For roots I had just carrots (I know, lame). For leaves, cilantro, because I thought that might be something they hadn't tried by itself before, and the lettuce at the grocery store looked terrible this week. For stems, I brought celery, but also had considered asparagus, but hey, I'm on a budget here.. For flowers, I had the most examples as I lumped all fruits and seeds as coming from flowers, so therefore, pretty much flowers for 2nd grade purposes. Broccoli, Kiwi, Lemons, Limes, Apple, Sunflower seeds, and Popcorn.
Basket o' plenty

Veggie and fruit Snackapalooza

I encouraged the students to try one piece/leaf/wedge/handful of each plant part, but made sure they knew they didn't HAVE to try everything. It was fun to hear who had never had a kiwi before and now LOVED it (several) or who had never tasted lemons or limes or had never heard of cilantro. If I got a kid to try just one new thing and get excited about it, I figure my volunteer time was well worth it.

Finally, I handed out a flyer I had made for them to take home on planting their own Pizza Gardens. It had an example layout, growing tips, and a part of the page open for them to journal about their pizza garden. I hope it inspired them. How did I guess that 2nd graders would be so in love with pizza? Nailed it. 

Ah lika da pizza garden.



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