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If you've been planning to teach budding minds about flowers and plants, there are plenty of unique and fun learning opportunities in store. Studying plant life lends itself naturally to hands-on learning, which, in turn, can help students get more involved and active. Children can feel rewarded as they observe literal growth. These interactive classroom activities can also reign in less focused students as they continue to learn by touching and doing.
Springtime is the perfect time of year to bring some color and energy to the classroom. When focusing on learning about flowers, don't forget the stem, as in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Flowers bring STEM together with other studies like the arts seamlessly, so many students many not even realize they're learning high-level scientific concepts. Within the same outing or class exercise, a teacher can focus on several concepts at once: pollination, plant life, environmentalism, life cycles, poetry, expression, and crafts. It might be difficult to decide what to talk about first!
Luckily, many of these concepts can be broken down by grade. Most of the high-level science concepts (such as flower botany, soil composition, the parts of a plant, and life cycles) are better suited for the third grade to sixth grade. Students much younger than that may require more arts and crafts to keep them occupied, or at the very least a very well-planned, creative delivery of the information. As grades increase, concepts like the chemistry behind chlorophyll, cell biology, Mendelian genetics, landscaping, and mathematics can also be introduced. Kids of almost any grade (even adults) can learn something interesting from plant life.
Perhaps the most important concept a teacher must convey when talking about flowers and plants is that this type of life is vitally important both to human existence and the planet as a whole. Not only do they keep us fed (as all fruits come from flowers and all vegetables are plants), they keep what we eat fed as well (like cows and chicken). They also feed us oxygen, as we feed them carbon dioxide. Plant life is far older than human life, and has a much richer history. Teachers for older students may wish to divert the conversation from typical plants to extinct, endangered, or rare plants. However, most will want to at least cover the life of trees, grasses, flowering plants, and ocean plants like algae.
Introducing hands-on experiences with plants and flowers may not be as costly as one might think at first. These kinds of experiences might simply include a trip outside on a nice day, crafts made out of recycled materials, or cheap seeds or bulbs (such as ryegrass seed). Teachers all over the U.S. have devised some brilliant ways to introduce both gardening and STEM concepts in the classroom in a cost-effective way. For those who don't have enough sunlight in the classroom, mosses may be an option. Creating flowers out of recycled materials can also be a lot of fun. Either way, a teacher should definitely practice the activity on their own before introducing it to the class.
In addition to bringing kids together with activities, it's important to allow them room to explore and grow on their own. Perhaps your lesson plan could require observation and measurement. On the other hand, it could include drawing, memorizing vocabulary, or working in groups. Always supervise when encouraging children to plant things, but know that this autonomy and individuality is vitally important for self-efficacy. With a bit of independence, a young mind can bloom just like a flower!
Written by:Betty Miller