Years ago when I was teaching in the US, I gave my pupils a homework assignment that I think was brilliant. We were learning about seeds, where they come from and what they become… For their homework, the kids were to find three seeds – in their garden, the kitchen, the woods, anywhere. They taped (or otherwise attached) the seeds to a piece of paper. Then they drew a picture or wrote a description of where they found each seed. It proved to be a fun scavenger hunt for them and these seven-year-olds were eager to share the treasures they found in the fruit basket, spice cabinet or flower bed.
But that was just the beginning of the fun. I had an old fish tank in the classroom that was gathering dust. We filled the bottom with rocks and potting soil, then each child chose one of his/her three seeds to plant in our miniature greenhouse – this was in September. Every morning when the kids entered the classroom, they would rush to the windowsill to check the progress of their growing plants.
The banana seed never sprouted, but we did end up with a harvest of spicy peppers and a variety of flowers. The sunflowers did really well. We had one sunflower stalk that continued to produce sunflowers throughout the winter… Something like 14 sunflowers blossomed on the one stalk. Odd, I know, but true. We had a couple of tomato plants that bore fruit, but when the school year ended and I returned to Nashville for the summer, I left those plants to another teacher to enjoy the harvest. I still think it is amazing though, that a homework assignment at the beginning of the school year kept the kids interested and engaged until the very end of the year.
We planted our ‘garden’ in a fish tank in the classroom, but you can easily do the same with a pot of dirt or a spot in the garden. You may be convinced that avocados and pineapples will not grow in Scotland, but to your kids, it’s an experiment… And a good reason to spend more time in the sunshine. You may need to help them also find seeds that will grow here, so that they can enjoy watching their seeds sprout, grow, bloom, and maybe even bear fruit.