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Tips for Kindergarden Tulip Garden Experiment

Lynn Shade, Kindergarden
Hepburn-Lycoming Elementary School
Cogan Station, PA

My kindergarten class had the best time planning and planting our garden. We enlisted the help of our custodial staff to prepare the area and to the PTO to buy the bulbs and the topsoil/mushroom soil for the garden. (We had had a renovation project 2 years ago and the soil around the school is clay with lots of rocks.) Everyone in our school has been waiting and watching to see what was going to happen in "that dirt".

Focus on Fall
We began by talking about the seasons and then focused on Fall. We wrote and decorated a large wallhanging about what happens in Fall. At the end of the interactive writing, I told the students that I had an idea that I wanted to add to their list: "In Fall, we plant tulip bulbs." The next day, we used Journey North's ideas of observing bulbs and dissecting bulbs.

Picking a Tulip Garden Site
Another day, after going over the site restrictions, we walked around the school with an enlarged checklist until we found our perfect site. It was amazing to me that the kids were really into this and knew why various areas would not work. Over the next few days, we wrote the rules for how we had to plant the bulbs.

Planting Day
Finally, planting day arrived! Were we ever excited! The children all came in their old gardening clothes and shoes - so did the teacher! With the other kindergarten class that is enjoying this experience with us, we went out to our site to plant. Lo and behold, the children discovered footprints in our garden. They were so upset about it that they decided we would need to put up a sign to tell others to stay away. Armed with our spades, rulers, watering cans, and bulbs, we planted our bulbs. To mark each child's bulb, we used white plastic spoons with their name on the handle. Of course, as soon as we finished, we had to go inside to make a stop sign. The next day, we talked about what would happen if we didn't plant the bulbs the right way. Predictions were made and we decided that we would each plant another bulb. Each child could plant the bulb anyway they wanted: upside down, sideways, shallow, deep, tunic peeled off, etc. Several children planted them right next to the building. We marked these bulbs with clear plastic spoons with their names again on the handles.

Writing and Telling About the Journey North Project
All along the way, I have taken pictures of our journey and we have been writing journal pages each day that we do something with the Journey North project. The pictures and journal pages are displayed in our room so that the kids have a daily reminder. In collaboration with the other kindergarten class, we have made a Journey North display in the hallway between our classrooms: a large bulb poster with the bulb parts labeled. We have added information to that poster and around that poster as we have continued our study: our bulb observations, rules for choosing our site, rules for planting our bulbs, and many photos of the kids "doing their work as scientists". All of Hepburn-Lycoming will be kept up-to-date in this way throughout the year as we add information. What a wonderful learning experience this has been...

Lynn Shade
Cogan Station PA 17728