Kindergarteners and First Graders Study Pumpkin Life Cycle in Chesnut’s Pie Garden

We call them “volunteer plants” — seedlings that push up out of the garden unexpectedly, sometimes from a predecessor who left its seeds behind after decomposing in the compost pile.

Last August when the students returned to school, in addition to pumpkins they had planted, they were surprised to find other varieties that had cropped up out of a rotting pumpkin left to decay in our compost pile, whose soil had then been added to the Pie Garden.IMG_2774First grade teacher Ms. Radford seized on this opportunity to demonstrate the plant life cycle — a science standard — to the students, who observed the pumpkins (fruits) ripening on the plant vines. They chose one pumpkin to study its decay in Ms. Radford’s classroom all year, after which the students harvested those seeds for replanting in the Pie Garden.

Meanwhile, parent Garden Leader Carissa Malone put those squash to good use – by turning them into homemade pumpkin pie! The kindergarteners who had planted the pumpkins were treated not only to Ms. Malone’s delicious cooking, but also to a presentation she put together to demonstrate how their school-grown produce became a delectable treat. This reinforces a basic Farm to School objective, which is to debunk a misconception our children can sometimes have:  that food comes from grocery store shelves. In this case, it came from their school!

pumpkin scooped


Another Post Just For Teachers!

On Wednesday, October 26, Dekalb County students will enjoy locally-grown Granny Smith Apples in the school cafeteria as part of DCSS’ commitment to the Farm to School Program and the local food movement.

For kindergarten teachers interested in using this event to further learning in the classroom, an online kindergarten lesson plan aligned to nine different GPS standards is available through the Decatur Farm To School website.

This website is also a great resource for GPS aligned lesson plans for other grades.

Teachers, This Post Is For You!

Teachers, did you know that the Clean Air Campaign provides many free downloadable lesson plans aligned with grade-level Georgia Performance Standards?

For example, a third-grade three-hour lesson plans allows students to act as “crime scene investigators” by observing the effects of air pollution on the environment and solving a “crime” by identifying sources of air pollution in their community.  In this lesson, each student will make a simple model of a cyclone hopper, an electrostatic precipitator, and a catalytic converter, to learn that air quality can be protected by cleaning up pollution.  This lesson plan is alligned with Georgia Performance Standard 3L2 (students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment).

A hands-on one-hour kindergarten curriculum entitled “Pardon Me, But What Is Air” uses a combination of math, science and writing activities to allow students to investigate how air tastes, feels, sounds, looks and smells.  This curriculum is aligned to Georgia Performance Standards ELAKW2 (the students begin to write in a variety of genres, including narrative, informational, persuasive and response to literature), MKN1  (students will connect numerals to the quantities they represent),  SKCS1 (atudents will be aware of the curiosity, honesty, openness, and skepticism in science and will exhibit these traits in their own efforts to understand how the world works) and SKE2 (students will describe the attributes of rocks and soils).

Lesson plans are available for all grade levels at the Clean Air Campaign’s website.