With the end of term fast approaching, both teachers and pupils alike want to escape the stuffy classroom. What’s more, the current warm weather is perfect for our insects, making it the ideal time of year to bring your class outdoors.
We’ve listed a number of simple ways to get your pupils out in the open this summer term and make gardening part of their learning.
Planting wild flowers and tree saplings encourages the return of native species of insects to an area of land. Not only are wildflower seed packets readily available and easy to grow, the promise of a minibeast hunt will retain your class’ interest.
(Photo: Scholastic Shop)
This can either be done using seed packets (if organised early enough in the year) or, using the cuttings of vegetables from your own kitchen or school canteen. Your class will love watching the process and it will give them an opportunity to learn where their food comes from.
(Photo: Food Revolution Network)
If re-growing kitchen scraps sounds like too long a process for your class this late in the term, then growing a beanstalk in a jar might be a great alternative. Simply ask each child to bring in a clean glass jar from home and fill halfway with wet cotton wool. In each jar place a dried bean in amongst the cotton wool, making sure you keep it visible from the outside so your class can watch it sprout. Leave on a sunny windowsill and keep the cotton wool damp, and within a few days the bean will begin to sprout shoots. After a week, each jar will have a beanstalk growing out the top, which your class can then take home to replant outside.
Teach your class the importance of recycling while creating a mini biodegradable greenhouse out of egg cartons and plastic bags. Take a large egg carton, remove the lid and poke a hole in the bottom of each egg cup to allow for drainage. Fill each cup with soil and seeds from a packet of your choice, then water and carefully place in a clear plastic bag, tying it at the end. Leave on a sunny windowsill and water periodically, once seedlings start to grow, remove from the bag and give each child an individual cup to take home with them to plant - cup and all!
This is a simple and quick experiment which visualises how water is transported through plants. Grab a bunch of white cut flowers – roses work best, and cut the ends from them so they fit into whatever beaker or vase you are using. Fill each beaker with water and food colouring, leave the flowers in the mixture overnight and the next morning check your results.
Finally, a number of old materials from around the classroom can be recycled to create all sorts of garden crafts. Here is a list of some simple craft ideas for the outdoors: