I’m learning the hard way of the importance of using labels when you plant your seeds. Being new to growing things (other than weeds) I rushed home from my first Urban Farming Tasmania seed sharing session and planted a few of everything. Now I have these mysterious seedlings bursting forth, but no idea of what they are. Summer will be full of surprises! The novelty of that will wear off I’m sure, so now I’m getting the girls to label everything we plant. We love the awesome plant label ideas at the Microgardener blog.
As well as avoiding ‘surprise seedling syndrome’, labelling and dating everything we plant is authentic literacy learning in action. Young children practice writing their own names, learn to read and write the names of plants, and understand the conventions of writing the date – for the authentic purpose of knowing and monitoring what they are growing. If the class also keeps a gardening log book, children can record the details of what they planted and when. The gardening log and the seedlings then present authentic numeracy learning opportunities such as measuring and tracking seedling growth, calculating growing patch dimensions and planning for the planting out of the seedlings.
Beyond these curriculum related opportunites, growing food also develops a foundational life literacy – the understanding of where food comes from (i.e. the earth rather than the factory or the supermarket shelves!). Through being part of a growing community, children can come to understand a great deal about the systems of life that sustain us.
Simple labelling strategies include:
Writing name of seed planted, by whom, and planting date:
– on the egg carton (a great free biodegradable seed starter tray)
– on milk bottle labels using permanent markers
– on ice cream sticks
– on pegs
– on plastic pieces cut from milk bottles using permanent markers