Twice in the last week, I visited the school garden which I have been in charge of caring for since last October. I’ve been deadheading and weeding, alone and with a friend, to make the gardens presentable for the school open house, which is this evening. When I planted with students this past May, I told all the classes I wanted them to notice the plants when they return. I hope tonight, despite the rain, at least a few of them do notice.
The students planted mostly marigolds, zinnia, coleus, kale, and snapdragons. There were a few other plants as well like Portulaca. Before we planted I had a mini-lesson on how to put a plant in the ground and the function of plant roots. I also turned their attention to the meaning of the word annual. Most elementary students do not use this word as part of their regular vocabulary. But, it is an important word in the world of gardening. Most of us think of the word annual in reference to something occurring yearly, like it is our annual church festival, or annual family reunion. And, yes, that is basically what the word means.
But, in the world of gardening, a plant that is an annual completes its growing cycle in one season. A plant that is an annual goes from seed to seed in one growing season. I used the marigolds as an example for this definition. These plants, I told the students, started out as a seed this spring, and end up producing seeds by the time you return to school this fall. I asked them to notice the seeds and where on the plant they were kept (at the base of the flower head).
Any plant that is an annual does this. So, all of the plants our student body put in the ground this spring were annuals. Annuals are great for instant color, too! We certainly got that, as you can see from these photos. The seed to seed concept is one that most young elementary students can grasp. Another great example of this type of plant life cycle can be given using pumpkins. Pumpkins start out as seeds in the spring, growing to produce the fruit (pumpkin) within which the seeds are contained. Again, an example that is very relatable to kids. Most have carved pumpkins in the fall, removing seeds as they create their jack 0 lantern faces. The pumpkin lesson is more applicable to a full – scale lesson on plant life cycles for the classroom than a mini-lesson taking place in a garden. But, you get the picture.
I’m hoping my presence at open house tonight reminds the students of their experience in the school garden this spring and that I asked them to take a look for the seed heads in our marigolds. They are there; the cycle of life has been completed.
This Tuesday blog is part of the Two Writing Teachers.org Slice of Life Tuesday forum. I am happy to be included in such a supportive community of writer’s.
Postscript: This is my second blog post of the day. I wrote one earlier in anger. It won’t be published. I chose to be positive and live with gratitude.