In the final months of school, garden lessons turn to a continuation of the life cycle with ‘Saving Our Seeds’ workshops at all grade levels. This exercise connects students to sustainable practices that preserve their favorite plants, ensure food security and support benchmarks in science (life cycle), social studies (food economics) and more.
During hands-on lessons, students dig into discussions and activities that illustrate stages of the life cycles (germination/birth, growth, reproduction, and death) of various plants and animals, pointing out details that distinguish each stage. Students also learn the value of seed saving and how it affects food availability for the future. As our jr. gardeners/scientists/economists become more experienced, the learning possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get started:
- Where can you find seeds in the garden? In a flower? In a fruit? In a dried pod?
- At which point of the life cycle is a seed? The beginning or the end? Answer: Both! Discuss when a seed is at the end (in flower, fruit or seed pod) and when a seed is at the beginning (when planted and watered) of the life cycle.
- Why save seeds? Discuss the value of preserving genes from healthy plants, saving money, food security, etc.
- How does age / storage affect germination rates? Review germination, discuss how seeds lose their ability to germinate over time or under poor storage conditions (heat, moisture, oxidation, etc).
- Students divide into groups to search for seeds throughout the garden and collect with volunteer and/or teacher supervision.
- Seeds can be compared by weight, shape, color, texture, etc.
- Demonstrate different ways seeds travel – by wind (lettuce seeds with feathers fly in the wind), wing (birds eating from a plate of sunflower seeds), water (place a seeding flower or open seed pod on a mound, simulate rain with watering can to watch a seeds travel in the water stream and replant itself downstream).
- Seeds are sorted, categorized, bagged or jarred, and labeled with collection dates.
- Seeds are then stored in a cool, dry, airtight place for use in next year’s school garden and/or planted in starts containers for students to add to their summer home gardens.
Check out more ideas for all grades and experience levels in this free e-book download made available by the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.