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Hands on Gardening Activities

Master Gardeners of Tulare/Kings

235971

 

Hands on Garden Activities

Looking for quick and easy activities for students to learn about gardening? At the Piece Conference in March, our Master Gardeners presented these simple and easy to use ideas to introduce your students to gardening.

HOW PLANTS DRINK

THE GREAT CABBAGE EXPERIMENT:

HOW PLANTS DRINK                                                          

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED

  • Napa cabbage leaves. Make a clear cut on the bottom of the leaf.
  • Clear cup/container – something substantial like a mason jar so it doesn’t tip over.         
  • Water and food coloring (red and blue work best)

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL DO

Ask the children if they know how plants drink?                                                                                                        

  • Fill the cup 1/4 – 1/2 full of water                                                                                        
  • Add 10 drops of food coloring to the water                                                                          
  • Place the cabbage leaf in the cup.                                                                                                    
  • Put the cup in a safe place.                                                                                                   
  • Ask the children what they think will happen.

    HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

    • After about an hour you may see the cabbage leaf beginning to turn color. You may also see the xylem (tiny tubes/veins) of the cabbage turn color.                                                
    • Xylem is the system of tiny tubes that act like straws in a plant. Xylem allows the plant to draw water up its stalk or stem into its leaves.                                                              
    • Xylem not only helps plants by providing them with the water they need but it also helps to provide support for the plant.                                                                                     
    • You can check out the progress of the water in the cabbage leaf by after 1 hour, repeat each hour to note changes.
    • What is the depth of color at different times?

    *Do this experiment again but put one leaf (in water and food coloring) in a sunny place and another (in water and food coloring) in a dark place. Is there any difference to what happens to the cabbage? Why?                 

WHAT A PLANT NEEDS TO GROW

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. clear plastic cups with hole poked in bottom
  2. lima beans
  3. soil
  4. 1 shoe box with a lid and plastic liner
  5. one plastic clamshell half

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL DO:

  1. In shoe box, place 4 plastic cups
  2. In clamshell, place 4 plastic cups
  3. In lst cups in each box, place lima beans by themselves
  4. In 2nd cups, place 1 lima bean and fill halfway with water
  5. In 3rd cups, fill ¾ with soil and place lima bean half way down on side of cup
  6. In 4th cups, fill ¾ with soil, place 1 lima bean on side of cup, and water slightly**
  7. Cover shoebox with lid and put aside – ask children what they think will happen
  8. Place cups in clamshell on a window sill where it will get plenty of light.
    What will happen to these?
    **Water will need to be replenished
  9. Variation with Ziploc bags.
    [IF YOU SOAK THE LIMA BEAN A DAY BEFORE THE EXPERIMENT, IT WILL GERMINATE AND SPROUT SOONER]

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: Children will learn that life depends on plants which need soil, water, sunlight, and air to grow.

How can we help plants in our garden get all four of these?           

  1. Light and air – sit seeds near a window with sunlight.
    Even better, set planted seeds outside each day and bring inside at night.
  2. Soil to anchor or attach the roots - Soil not only anchors the roots but provides essential nutrients to the plant. The nutrients are like vitamins that children take. The nutrients are carried to the plant through water. It is important that the soil is loamy, not too sandy and not too hard (like clay). Some soils need to be amended with compost or soil amendment to create better conditions for roots to grow.
  3. Water – Seeds need a small watering. Keep the soil moist, not soggy wet. Using a spray bottle of water prevents overwatering.
SPROUTING HAIR

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. cup
  2. soil
  3. photo of child (today, we will use a sticky note and crayons to draw a face)
  4. seeds (alfalfa, wheat, radish)
  5. water
  6. spray bottle – works better for little hands to prevent overwatering

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL DO:

  1. Decorate your cup with a face before you put soil in it. [You can also have the child glue a face using cut-out construction-paper shapes like lips, eyes, eyelashes, nose OR use a photo of child]
  2. Fill the cups with pre-moistened soil to about 1/4 inch from the top.
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of seeds on top of damp soil, then sprinkle about 1 tsp. of soil on that.
  4. Use a spray bottle to water soil until moist.
  5. Put on a window sill, so that they will get enough light. Keep moist using spray bottle.
  6. Depending on the seed, it may take from 5 to 14 days for the seeds to germinate. Read the seed packet for germination times.
  7. If you want children to eat the sprouts, use organic seeds and follow the soaking directions on the seed packet to ensure food safety.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  1. Plants need water, soil, air and sunlight to grow.
  2. If planting in a clear cup, you can see the roots growing and discuss how roots absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil
  3. You can check the progress of the roots and tops. If different kinds of seeds are used, comparisons can be made between germination rates, root growth, and sprout appearances.
Piece Conference Master Gardner Handouts
THE GREAT CELERY EXPERIMENT

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. Celery stalks - use stalks that have leaves.
         Make a clear cut on the bottom of each stalk. If strings are tough, you      may want to take some off so you can see the coloring travel up the      celery.
  2. Clear, sturdy cup or jar.
  3. Water.
  4. Food coloring (red and blue work best).

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Ask the children if they know how plants drink. Discussion is based on the level of your children’s understanding.

  1. Fill the cup 1/3 to 1/4 full of water.
  2. Add 10 drops of food coloring to the water.
  3. Place the celery stalk in the cup.
  4. Put the cup in a safe place
  5. Ask children what they think will happen.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  1. After about an hour you may see the leaves of the           celery beginning to turn color. You           may also see the xylem (tiny tubes/veins) of the      celery turn color.
  2. Xylem is the system of tiny tubes that act like           straws in a plant. Xylem allows the           plant to draw water up its stalk or stem.
  3. Xylem not only helps plants by providing them           with the water they need, but it also helps to      provide support for the      plant.
  4. You can check out the progress of the water in           the celery stalk by peeling part of the stalk      after 1 hour, 2 hours, 4      hours, etc. What is the      depth of      color at different times?

Do this experiment again but put one stalk (in water and food coloring) in a sunny place and another (in water and food coloring) in a dark place. Is there any difference to what happens to the celery?

FREEBIE (OR ALMOST FREE) CONTAINERS
  1. Yogurt cartons
  2. Egg cartons
  3. Egg shells
  4. Clear plastic clamshells or trays
  5. Starbucks cups
  6. Pencils
  7. Small bottle sprayers
  8. Watering cans (99 cent store)
  9. Popsicle sticks, plastic silverware, or old venetian blinds for plant markers
  10. Newspaper/TP roll pots
  11. Ice cream cone
  12. Paper towel or newspaper seed tape (see demos in your bucket)
  13. Pellet seed starters (Dollar Tree/Big Lots)
  14. Gallon plastic containers
  15. Reusable grocery bags (yes, you can add soil, plant, and water!)

 

MAKE AND TAKE:

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  1. newspaper
  2. juice can
  3. empty toilet paper roll
  4. seeds
  5. soil

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL DO: See Making Paper Pots (newspaper and cardboard roll pots)

Master Gardeners will demo. Make your own of each, put in clear cups to transport.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: You don’t have to have a big garden to grow seeds into plants! Any child or teacher with a patio or porch with 6-8 hours of sun daily can have a small garden!

 

 

Making Paper Pots and Seed Tape

                        Students can make their own mini paper pots and these can be transplanted directly into the garden. The basic idea is to wrap a newspaper strip around a mold, squish the bottom, fill it with soil and use it to plant a seed in.

Materials

  • A small      unopened V-8/apple      juice can
  • Newspaper,      cut into strips 4      to 4-1/2 inches      wide by 10 inches long (one      lengthwise strip)
  • Bag of      seed starting or soil      mix
  • Watering can

Instructions

  1. Children place the strip of newspaper lengthwise in front of them and then place the can at the end of the newspaper strip closest to their own body in such a way as to be able to roll the can along the paper strip. Leave at least 1-2 inches of the newspaper hanging over the mold’s bottom.
  2. Roll the can along the strip, rolling the paper around it (not too tight, not too loose).
  3. When the newspaper is entirely around the mold, twist and fold the extra 2" of paper at the bottom over onto itself 3 times.
  4. On a flat table surface, put the can on its bottom and say, “Push and turn, push and turn.” This flattens the bottom of the “paper pot.”
  5. Gently ease the newspaper "pot" off its mold. Fill with soil to the top of pot. Plant a seed by poking a hole in the dirt with the index finger, sticking the seed in and covering.
  6. Place pots in a tray right up against each other so that they support each other. Spray water pots after you have placed them in a supportive tray. Once the initial watering has taken place, water the pots from the bottom so the water soaks upward to the seed. If you are gone over a long weekend, simply leave enough water in the bottom of the container.

Transplanting paper pots

When the plant is about 3-5" tall, transplant it into garden. It is possible to transplant the newspaper pot directly into the ground. The newspaper will eventually decompose. Make sure no paper is sticking up out of the soil. Paper exposed to air can wick the moisture from the soil leaving a dried out little plant.

Toilet paper/paper towel rolls

If you use this method, make 3 one inch cuts in the bottom of the roll before you give them to the children. Have the children fold up the 3 slits for the bottom of the container. Fill with soil and plant the seed as with the paper pots. HOWEVER, when time to plant in the ground, unfold the bottom 3 slits for the roots to grow down into the soil. This will not decompose very quickly like the newspaper pots do.

Making Seed Tape

Use strips of newspaper or paper towels, about six (6) inches wide. Fold in half lengthwise, then put black marker dots on the bottom half of paper with spacing 1-3 inches apart, depending on the type of seeds to be planted. Have children put a dot of glue (or a flour and water paste) on each black dot, put 2-3 seeds on top of glue, and fold top half down and press sealed. Ready to plant in the garden. Be sure to place ½ to 1 inch of soil on top of seed tape.