Archive for January 30th, 2013

January 30, 2013

Little Sprouts Plant Their First Garden

by Melissa Harding

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We just finished our latest four-week Little Sprouts program, My First Garden, and we had so much fun! Campers learned how plants grow from seeds to flowers and back again, as well as how to plant and take care of their very own gardens.  They even worked together on a rainbow garden mural by matching colored flowers and vegetables to the colors of the rainbow, building a beautiful garden. Campers sang songs, played games and read stories to help them understand the plant life cycle.

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Week one focused on the parts of a plant. Campers learned that roots keep a plant anchored into the ground and that stems act like straws to suck up water. They also learned that plants love sunshine and use their leaves to catch it to make food. Campers and grown-ups explored the Tropical Forest, looking for different plant parts on a scavenger hunt. We found big leaves, small leaves, brightly colored flowers and lots of exposed roots! Campers also planted grass heads, which are nylon knee-high stockings filled with soil and grass seeds, and decorated recycled yogurt containers to put them in. The first week, they don’t look like much, but after four weeks they are covered in green “hair”. One of our sprouts calls it her “little potato”!

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Week two was all about seeds. Campers made drums from recycled containers and filled them with seeds, using recycled drum sticks to play them. After they were finished with their drums, campers explored a set of seed instruments and various seeds big and small, from a coconut to a carrot seed.  During the lesson, campers learned that a seed is a baby plant waiting to grow. Each sprout got a soaked lima bean and dissected it to find the seed coat, embryo and cotyledon. We also looked at all the different seeds in the drum, finding corn, peas and colored beans; after which, we all pretended to be seeds going through the life cycle and turning into flowers. Campers walked through the east wing of the Conservatory, looking at fern spores and learning that not every plant comes from a seed. Finally, we sang some fun seed songs, playing along with our drums.

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Week three focused on caring for a garden. Campers used vegetables as paint brushes to make pictures in a sensory craft. They also played in our dirt bins, using small cups, shovels and rakes. During the lesson, campers learned that plants need water, soil, air and sunlight to survive. Campers read several interactive stories about gardens and then we all planted a pretend garden using the lima beans from last week. Campers explored the west wing of Conservatory, looking for gardeners, a hose, a rake, and other gardening implements on their walk. Finally, they all planted lettuce to take home and grow on their windowsills.

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Week four was for the birds as campers learned about garden critters. Campers made bird feeders out of pipe cleaners and cereal to feed their avian friends in the winter. During the lesson, campers learned that the garden is full of helpful friends like birds, bugs and worms. Campers looked through our worm bins to find a worm friend to observe, using flashlights and magnifying glasses to learn more about their bodies. They also learned that worms are important to the health of both soil and plants, making garden grow. Campers explored the Conservatory looking for critters, stopping to see some of the good bugs that we use to help the plants. Finally, they took home their grass heads, many of which had grown a full head of green hair!

If you want to read some great stories about gardening with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Two Old Potatoes and Me by John Coy
No Carrots for Harry by Jean Langeman
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Now I Know All About Seeds by Susan Kuchalla
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

Our next Little Sprouts: Single Servings program, My Tropical Adventure, is scheduled for February 15, 10:30 am-noon. If you would like to sign up your child for a future Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, please visit our website. We hope to see you there!

The above pictures were taken by our wonderful volunteer, Pam Russel.

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