Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning about Broccoli--and Eating It!

This week and next the second graders are learning about broccoli through math, science, language arts and eating!  Most of the broccoli plants planted by a local boy scout have flowered and it is time to harvest them. They should have been harvested when the head was firm and tight and before they flowered. fyi, when the sprouts start to flower, the plant will stop sprouting. At least we have two plants that aren't flowering yet!

The highlight of the morning seemed to be eating the broccoli which I purchased at Von's. We don't have enough for all second graders to eat what's in our garden.  The kids had three opportunities to eat the broccoli, with or without ranch dressing. Several kids also ate some of the yellow flowers from our garden.

The math lessons: we all stood around the broccoli bed and counted the plants: "There are 20 broccoli plants".  Each class had a team that measured the perimeter of the bed and the height of the tallest and shortest plants.  The tallest broccoli plant is either 25" or 23 1/2 " depending on the group that measured. The shortest broccoli plant is 3". They all should know what perimeter is by now!

The science lesson: I drew the parts of the broccoli plant and labeled them.  We discussed the parts of the plant and that the stem, leaves, florets and flowers are all edible.

Language arts: the children write in their journals every week, recording what I write on the chart. I use the language experience approach and write down the sentences which they give me.

Some children also dug for grubs in one of the empty beds and others added greens and browns to start a new compost bin.  I think we'll be able to prepare the soil for planting as only five grubs were found!

Thanks to the parent volunteers, Ashley and Mr. Alex for their help!

If anyone wishes a good book about composting, Wen-Chia Parker, a Master Gardener and parent at Beethoven, has written a cute book, "Kids Can Compost". I have a copy to share and the second grade also has a copy. The book costs $10.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back in the Garden

We had only half of the classes due to field trips. Today we took the 2nd graders on an observation walk around the garden to see how it had changed during the winter vacation. One girl said, "the plants got very big!"

Some of the seeds that they planted are growing-especially radishes, lettuce, and carrots. Some poppies are also coming up.  The kale seedlings are doing very well and we will start harvesting them. GG, a volunteer, showed some children what happened when pansies went to seed.

We spent a lot of time looking at at the broccoli plants that a local boy scout had planted in one of the beds. Some of the plants were almost ready to harvest, some were ready and some had yellow flowers. We explained that people usually eat broccoli before it flowers and that people also eat the stems. (We'll discuss more about broccoli next week since people can also eat the flowers and leaves.) We'll save some of the broccoli seeds from the flowers for next year.

The kids observed that there were holes in some of the plants and that some of the plants had been eaten. They knew that squirrels hadn't eaten them since the the beds are covered with wire. We'll discuss more about pests and how to prevent them later.

The kids worked in three groups. One group measured the broccoli bed, one group planted seeds in plug trays and one dug for grubs. The measuring group used both a yardstick and a tape measure. "We measured the broccoli plants and we measured the perimeter of the beds".  I explained that the perimeter is the outside of the bed. The bed is 36 " x 136". One of Mr. Jacob's students added up the numbers--344".  Mrs. Fein's group measured the height of the broccoli plants. The seed planting groups planted carrots, spinach, lettuce and cornflowers.

New vocabulary this week: perimeter. Continuing to reinforce the names of the vegetables.