a little house for the pumpkin

IMG_0390We have been talking about many ways we can be responsible both at home and at school. Back in October, the students were interested in seeing if the seeds from our pumpkins would grow. They placed seeds in plastic bags with paper towel and water. As the seeds sprouted, they decided we needed to plant them in soil because they were becoming too big for the plastic bags. We planted a few of the seedlings and it wasn’t long before we noticed a stem had snapped. An impromptu conversation about caring for the plants responsibility, led to a discussion about planting a garden. Because it was November, the students knew that planting a garden at this time of year would result in the plant dying.

I: “We should make a garden shed. You make it with wood. You get a big piece of wood and cut it. Then get some screws and screw the wood. Then when you’re done doing the nails you have to lift up the wood and screw them together and put a door.”

R: “We could make a little house for the pumpkin.”

I: “And put a rain cloud in the house.”

Mr. P.: “That’s interesting. Some plants are grown in a house called a greenhouse.”

R: “We could make a greenhouse! A little one for the classroom.”

And so, construction of the greenhouse began. The students brainstormed materials they would need.

greenhouse 1

Once materials were collected, they began to construct the greenhouse. Structures, choice of materials and stability were major concepts that were discussed as the students experimented and problem-solved. Tape seemed to be the binder of choice. Regardless of the amount of tape they used, they began to realize that tape wouldn’t give the greenhouse the stability it required. When asked what other materials they might use, “S” suggested they try string.

greenhouse 2

Stability also came into play when constructing the roof for the greenhouse. I found it interesting that despite the conversation about the problems with using masking tape, the students continued to use tape until they realized that it would not make the roof stable. “M” said it needed something underneath it to make it strong.

greenhouse 4

Finally, the students needed to plan how many pots would fit in the greenhouse and how much plastic they needed to cover it.

greenhouse 5

After days of construction, our greenhouse was ready to house a few plants. We are now wondering if a pumpkin will grow.

greenhouse 6


onions, potatoes and…chicken pops?

Last week, we received a bag of bulbs to plant in our school garden.  My class from last year may have remembered what these were from our spring inquiry, but I’m at a new school this year.  Rather than tell the children we were going to plant some bulbs, we put them out at the Discovery Table for the children to explore.  They had some pretty interesting thoughts.  Some children thought they were onions, others thought they were potatoes.  Some children said they were “gundaas” and “pyaz” which we think is Punjabi for “onions.”  Many children noticed two pointy things and one thought was that they were chicken “pops” because “they all have two legs and they go pop, pop, pop!” 

When we gathered for our meeting, we asked the children what we could do with them:

Protect them.  

Can we plant them today?  It will take a long time, or they will never grow.

Put them in the garden.  

It’s nature.  We should put them in the garden.

Plant these seeds and grow them, next year, when school is here.

Even though they didn’t know these were bulbs, they knew they wanted to plant them, so we added them to our garden.

To extend their thinking we put out onions, garlic, potatoes and bulbs for the students to explore further.  Some children compared them, some sorted them and some drew them.  One child decided she would write, measure and draw.  The complexity of their “scribbles” always intrigues me.  If you take a close look at her representation, you’ll notice scribbles for words, question marks, a small picture of the bulb and lines running down the left side of her picture.  This is what she used to measure and compare the onions, garlic and potatoes.  We will keep the different bulbs and potatoes out to see if they inspire any other investigations or explorations.

building community

Our HUGE bag of soil arrived the other day, so we were able to finish planting all of the donations we received from our families.  We started off by filling scoops and buckets for the children.  As the height of the bag became more manageable, they began to fill their own buckets.  This could have resulted in one huge soil pit.  Instead, the children took so much care to fill their containers and carry soil over to the planters.  I love how their garden is building community – not only amongst the children, but throughout the school.  The Grade 1 students in Mrs. Halliwell’s class have had composting worms in their classroom this year.  They are becoming quite the environmentalists!  They surprised us with containers of compost which we added to our soil.  A HUGE thanks to Mrs. Halliwell and her eco-friendly students!

greening our play area

The children love playing in the field. Their natural curiosity for nature allows them to explore and engage in their own inquiries. I asked the children what they liked about playing in the field.  “It’s cozy!  We can watch critters.  We can look at plants.”  I asked the children what our play area needed.  I love their responses:  “We can buy a big carpet that has some grass on it.  Maybe we can take a bucket and put some grass in it, and it would be so cozy.  We can plant some seeds.”  Well, planting we did!  After creating a list of some things we might need, we sent a letter home to our wonderful parents who did not disappoint.  Their generous donations of plants and soil allowed us to begin to green our play space.  We also collected some old tires.  The tires alone provided loads of fun and excitement!  The children enjoyed rolling them, stacking them, and jumping around them.  The children helped plan where to put the tires, where to plant the flowers and where to plant the fruits, vegetables and herbs.  We got so many donations that we planted along two fences and also in the middle of the play area.  Thank-you parents for helping us with this project!  We’ve done most of the planting and are hoping to get more soil.  The children check the flowers everyday and are learning to care for their garden.