On a clear, bright, sunny morning in mid September, a group of grade three students and adult volunteers are gathered on the sidewalk next to the garden area at the front of the school. Despite the sunshine, there is a chill in the air and the wind is blowing dry leaves in little circles at our feet. The purpose of this gathering is to plant bulbs in the school garden as a first step in a long-term activity that will promote learning in several curriculum areas during the school year.
Ignoring the gusts of wind, the students listen carefully as the planting process is explained and demonstrated, and then each student is invited to select a daffodil bulb and a trowel from the wheelbarrow. Next comes the task of finding a special spot in the garden to plant. How exciting it is to plant these large bulbs knowing that they hold the promise of flowers in the spring!
What is the Planting a Promise Program?
The Planting a Promise program was created by the BC Agriculture In the Classroom Foundation to enable teachers to extend their students’ gardening experience into the fall. Those classes that harvested potatoes from the Spuds in Tubs Program the previous June will have dug the left over soil into the garden ready for this fall planting. (An article about the Spuds in Tubs Program appeared in the September 2012 issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine and is available to view online at: CanadianTeacherMagazine.com)
How do I register my class for the Planting a Promise Program?
BC teachers are invited to apply at the beginning of the school year by using the contact information listed below. Curriculum Connections, teacher background information, lesson plans with student activity sheets and photographs of daffodils in bloom are all provided on the website.
Planting a Promise Program
BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation
Spuds in Tubs Program
What if I live outside of British Columbia?
Planting a Promise: Daffodils at School is an excellent information package written by Jim Wiese and is available on the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation website. It contains everything that you would need to know about starting your own project including a student activity booklet. All you need to do is provide the bulbs!
What steps do you take to grow daffodils in the school garden?
STEP 1: Before Planting (early September)
- Dig the leftover soil from the Spuds in Tubs Program into the soil or prepare a bed so the students will not have difficulty digging holes for the bulbs.
- Pick up the bulbs from one of the Program Partners listed in the start up information.
- Engage the students in the introductory activities that are outlined in the teacher background information and lesson plans (what is a bulb? what does a bulb need to grow? what are the basic parts of a plant? what is the life cycle of a daffodil plant?)
- Cut a bulb open and have the students examine it. Have them draw and label a bulb.
STEP 2: Planting (mid September)
- Review the information from the earlier activities.
- Explain and demonstrate the planting process.
- Have the students choose a spot in the school garden and:
- dig a hole 15 cm deep (hole should be half as wide as it is deep)
- pile the dirt next to the hole so that the bulb can be covered up later
- place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end up
- return the dirt to the hole and cover the bulb up
- pack the soil down lightly
- water thoroughly
STEP3: After Planting (early December)
- Remind students of what they did in September when they planted the bulbs.
- Have the students return to the garden and locate one of the tiny shoots that are beginning to emerge from the soil.
- Measure the height of the shoot.
- Uncover one the bulbs and examine the roots.
- Return to class and record the information.
STEP 4: After Planting (early Spring)
- Once the shoots have emerged, have the students return to the garden and locate the bulbs that they planted.
- Have the students use a ruler to measure the height of their daffodil and record the information (bar graphs are included in the student information booklet).
- Have the students record the growth of their bulbs for two weeks.
- When the daffodil flowers bloom, have the students observe their flowers.
- Have the students draw and label their daffodils.
- A number of extension activities are included in the information package on the website.
If you are contemplating any sort of school gardening project you might also want to check out the Agriculture in the Classroom Canada website (www.aitc.ca/bc/). AITC is a network of all the provincial Agriculture in the Classroom programs. There you will find links to programs in your area, lists of resources, etc. You will also find information about Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week which is celebrated annually in March.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brenda has 35 years of classroom experience. She has presented workshops on literature-based themes and literacy strategies, and has written a number of resources for teachers. She remains passionate about matching up kids with books.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Apr/May 2014 issue.