Our spring planting unit is well under way, and it is, as always, a rich, fresh, and lively set of four lessons where we bring our buckets, dirt, seeds, and spring plants right into the classrooms. We teachers with Midwest Food Connection have a great appreciation for the way kids instinctively notice and revel in the subtleties of nature. They are drawn like magnets to the stories of the ways plants unfold over time, and the nuanced details of the role and place of each one in our ecosystem.
We adults indeed recognize that we have a symbiotic relationship with our students, and we celebrate it! We strengthen children’s love of various life forms when we model our own keen interest. When we can answer kids’ questions with the same enthusiasm as in the asking, we help them satisfy their innate need to know how the world works. And when we adults continue to ask questions ourselves—and to share our own questions with kids—inquiry-based learning takes the lead. Learning becomes fun!
So what have the kids been asking us over the last few weeks, ever since we started planting in early April? A small sampling of what our kindergarten through fifth graders wonder:
- Is a slug a pest?
- Do wasps pollinate?
- Why is my pea plant so long?
- Why are the little leaves on the kale plant spikey on the edges?
- What does a squash plant look like?
- Are ladybugs cannibals? Are they pollinators?
- How long before my seed germinates?
- Why does the pepper seed “want warmer soil”?
And what have we teachers been wondering as of late? A little survey amongst the four of us produced these questions:
- Creeping Charlie has purple flowers! How long will they last?
- What are my plans with regard to letting this pretty, flowering, more-dynamic-than-grass plant take over my yard?
- What will the fruits of some of the hybrid seeds I have look like?
- What is it about spiders that makes some kids look away from a picture of one?
- How should I amend my soil to enhance the growing conditions for my root crops?
Now it’s your turn. What have you been wondering about? Let us know on our Facebook page! It will be fun to know what’s been swirling around in the minds of other nature lovers.