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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



National Gardening Month


"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
-Margaret Atwood, Canadian author

Books about Gardens and Plant Science

Gardening is great exercise! Go outside and plant something!

Challenge students to start some kind of edible plant this month that will be ready to eat by the end of the school year. Lettuce and radish are good possibilities. The Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide, from OSU Cooperative Extension Service, provides a chart with number of days, from planting to harvest.

Writing Prompts
  • Start a story with this sentence: "There's something about the smell of freshly-dug earth."
  • Write an ode to the earth worm.
  • Write a 250-word description of a compost pile.
Sneaker Salad

from the Junior Master Gardener curriculum

  • Each student brings one old sneaker to class.
  • Fill the sneakers with potting mix, and plant lettuce, radishes or a mesclun mix (mixed lettuce and greens for salad).
  • Keep the sneakers watered, and have a salad lunch at the end of the school year.
Photo Turning compost
If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds ... Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long.
- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977
Compost Basics
Start a Compost Pile
  • Students follow the Scientific Study Format to plan and conduct experiments with their compost pile.
  • Students keep track of what they add to pile and record observations in a journal.
  • Students measure temperature of pile weekly and graph temperatures.
Prepare planting beds without digging by using sheet composting
  • One group prepares a planting bed using sheet composting. Another group use conventional technique.
  • Students follow the Scientific Study Format to plan and conduct experiments with their planting beds.
  • Compare results.
Brown, Peter, The Curious Garden, Little, Brown, 2009. (Grades PreK-2)
One rainy day, Liam sights a stairway leading up to an elevated train track, and climbs it, discovering a patch of wildflowers and plants struggling to survive amid the tracks. Liam is determined to turn this mangy growth into a garden, but first he must turn himself into a gardener. He prepares for spring by readig gardening books and gathers the tools and skills to bring his secret garden to full bloom.
Burnie, David, Plant, Eyewitness Books, DK, 2011. (Grades 4-7)
Photographs of flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves and more offer a view of the natural history of plant anatomy and growth. See the biggest flower in the world, where a seed develops, what the inside of a plant stem looks like, how a flower attracts insects, what a plant's reproductive organs look like, and how a dandelion spreads its seeds. Learn how plants defend themselves, why flowers are brightly colored, how a plant can climb, why some plants feed on insects, and why some plants have no seeds. Discover why some plants have spines and stingers, what plants looked like millions of years ago, how plants survive in the desert, how plants turn sunlight into energy, and much, much more.
Carle, Eric, The Tiny Seed, Little Simon, 2009. (Grades PreK-2)
Flower pods burst and dispatch their seeds to the wind; the air-borne seeds are subject to many disasters; and the ones that make it through the perils of the seasons to become mature flowering plants are still susceptible to being picked, trod upon and otherwise damaged. But nature allows for survivors, and so the tiny seed grows into a giant flower, releasing its seeds and continuing the cycle. Reissue of the 1970 edition, with expanded, expansive collage illustrations.
Edom, Helen, Science With Plants, Usborne, 2007. (Grades 2-6)
Basic science concepts are presented in fun, hands-on activities for early elementary students. Topics covered include seed germination, water transportation, tranpiration, stem and leaf structure, pollination, vegetative reproduction, composting and basic soil structure. The book closes with an excellent desription of how our needs are met by plants.
Grigsby, Susan, and Nicole Tadgell, First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden, Albert Whitman, 2012. (Grades 1-4)
Maya loves contests, so she is excited when her teacher announces they will plant a school garden like Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello--and they'll have a "First Peas to the Table" contest, just like Jefferson and his neighbors had each spring. Maya plants her pea seeds with a secret head start--found in Jefferson's Garden Book--and keeps careful notes in her garden journal. But her friend Shakayla has plans of her own for the contest...Susan Grigsby's light-hearted classroom story also presents scientific and historical information. Nicole Tadgell's watercolors add both appeal and botanical accuracy.
Henkes, Kevin, My Garden, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2010. (Grades PreK-2)
A girl, her mother's helper in a flourishing garden, imagines what her own garden would look like: "The flowers could change color just by my thinking about it...The rabbits wouldn't eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them."
Hall, Esther, Grow Your Own: A yummy story about growing (and eating) your own food, Macmillan, 2011.
Sidney and his mom live a busy life in a busy city. Dinner time is announced by the PING of the microwave, comes out of piping-hot boxes, and is eaten off knees. The closest Sidney ever comes to a vegetable is the mushroom on his pizza . . . and he usually picks that off. But when Sidney goes to visit Granny in the countryside, eating his greens suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting!
Kenin, Justine, We Grew It, Let's Eat It!, Tenley Circle, 2010. (Grades PreK-3)
Washington, DC, twins Annie and Veda learn about the White House vegetable garden and want to grow their own fruits and vegetables. But how can they do it, since they live in a city apartment? Watch the twins and senior gardener Ida work and play their way through planting, tending and harvesting in a community garden.
Peterson, Cris, and David R. Lundquist, Seed, Soil Sun: Earth's Recipe for Food, Boyds Mills, 2010. (Grades PreK-3)
After establishing that most of our food comes from seeds that grow with the help of soil and sunlight, this book talks a little about each element in the title, how it relates to the growing plant and how photosynthesis allows the plant to make energy. The last few pages tell how we consume the plant's energy as food.