Plants, Bugs, and Soils
Kid in Tree

Soil Solutions

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Soil Solutions brims with hands-on science lessons that utilize the local school landscape to connect students to the world of soils and plants in an inviting and relevant way.  Students will discover the soil beneath their feet, watch as a basil seed germinates before their eyes and nibble on nutritious and delicious salad greens they have grown themselves. Activities are structured to foster wonder and curiosity and encourage ways to turn student questions into investigations.  The teacher’s role becomes one of a collaborator and a partner in inquiry with their students.  Aligned to meet the North Carolina’s third grade science standard course of study in plant and soils, the curriculum draws from current research and knowledge in crops, horticulture and soil sciences. Each lesson includes background information for teachers, questions to focus student thinking and activities that emphasize observation and problem solving.

soil pour throughUsing the 4-H Experiential Learning model as a framework, the curriculum seeks to further life skills like communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and more, by engaging students to learn by doing, sharing their experience with each other, reflecting on their results and generalizing and applying what they know to new situations.

Soil Solutions contains eight engaging lessons. Below are brief summaries of the lessons and a sampling of activities, assessments, and worksheets contained within the curriculum. Contact your county 4-H agent at your local Cooperative Extension office.

Soil Properties
Students will sample and observe soil from the schoolyard, determine soil type using hand texturing techniques and a soil shimmy dance. Students perform a soil particle play to understand the spatial relationship between different soil particles and the impacts on plant growth. Click here or see above to download this lesson. Duration: 1.5 hours or two 45-minute sessions

Soil Water Relationships
Starting with a sponge demonstration, students will begin to understand the four different parts of soil: soil particles, air, water, and organic matter. Continuing the schoolyard soil investigations, students will conduct experiments to determine how water flows through different soil types. Duration: 45 minutes

Soil and Water Assessment: Each lesson includes active assessment strategies to gain an understanding of your student’s knowledge and skills.

Soil and Plant Growth
Through a dancing and brainstorm session, students determine what plants contributed to their lunch and where the plants might be grown in North Carolina. Using information gained from previous lessons, students develop an experiment to test the ability of their native soil to support different crops. Duration: 1 hour followed by 15 minute weekly observations for 6-8 weeks.

Seed Germination Experiment
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Students watch a short timelapse video illustrating seed germination and then discover the process for themselves by sprinkling water on basil seeds and watching the seeds immediately start the germination process. Students discuss what seeds need to germinate and delve deeper with an experiment to encourage morning glories out of dormancy. Duration: 1 hour for initial lesson, followed by 5 to 10 minute observation each day for 7-10 days.

Sprouting Basil Seeds: Most activities begin with a “hook” to engage student interest.

Pollination Partners
Students act out the process of pollination using homemade props and puppets that demonstrate the relationship of a flower shape to its pollinator. Students collect flowers and dissect them to identify the different parts. Teachers share intriguing pollination stories with students that engage their interest in plant / pollinator relationships. Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pollination Partners: Beyond the Garden Gate: Each lesson contains project ideas for students to do at home

Plant Growth Experiment: A Nutrient Study
Using the Fast Plant growing systems students design an experiment to explore how environmental variables influence plant growth. The short life cycle of the Fast Plants enable students to observe the entire plant growth process, including pollination and seed development. Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours for initial experiment design, followed by 10 minutes two to three times a week for observation.

Plant Growth Worksheet: Numerous worksheets are contained within the curriculum to provide a starting framework to record and discuss ideas explored

Salad Bowl Experiment
Students will determine what characteristics they would like in a salad green and use these ideas to inform their data collection on an experiment they design to evaluate salad greens for school lunches. Students create the experiment, by developing questions, making hypotheses, collecting data, drawing graphs and writing a consumer report marketing the “best” salad green. Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours, 10 minutes once a week for data collection

Composting
Students begin by sorting through a “trash bin” to discover which items are compostable and non-compostable. Build a classroom bin to which they can contribute compostable ingredients and record observations around temperature and length of time for something to decompose. Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour, additional weekly observations of 15 minutes.

Compost Card Sort: Tools are included to further conceptual understanding of students in a fun and interactive way.

Contact

Liz Driscoll
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Curriculum Pages


Download the first lesson on soil properties. To obtain the full curriculum for free, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.View PDF

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Strawberries in Schools

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Strawberries in Schools is a collaborative project between NC Cooperative Extension, NC Ag in the Classroom (through NC Farm Bureau), the NC Strawberry Association and teachers throughout the state.  Funding provided by the National Ag in the Classroom grant enabled these partners to come together to develop growing resources and lessons that utilize strawberries as model to understand science, literacy and math concepts in a contextual way.


kids watering strawberries

Schoolyard strawberry gardens provide rich spaces for students and teachers to explore concepts relevant to their curricula in a hands-on, experiential way. A strawberry garden, modeled on the annual hill production system used by farmers in the southeastern United States, fits neatly into the traditional-year calendar for elementary schools, with students beginning school in late August and finishing the year in June. This coincides with the southeastern strawberry production system in which strawberry plants are set into the ground between late September through early October, and the fruit is harvested in late April–early May. This growing schedule enables students to observe the life cycle of the strawberry plant throughout the school year.

A strawberry garden furnishes numerous benefits for students. The garden becomes a living laboratory, providing an integrated context to explore all subject areas. Science concepts such as plant growth and development can be easily studied and managed. Students can observe and discuss the relationships between plants and animals and their surrounding environments. Math, social studies, literacy, and health and wellness objectives can also be taught through the garden, with activities from weighing fruit to learning about the importance of strawberries to North Carolina. Life skills, including critical thinking, responsibility, communication, teamwork, citizenship, and a respect for nature, develop through nurturing a strawberry garden.

A strawberry garden affords an opportunity for youth who are disconnected from how fruits and vegetables are grown to understand the way food is produced. The simple act of cultivating a strawberry plant from a starter plant to a mature fruit-bearing plant imbues students with a proud sense of accomplishment. Tasting fruit fresh from the garden, which students have grown themselves, can encourage a lifetime preference for eating healthy food and a love of gardening.

NC Cooperative Extension Logo  NC Strawberry Association Logo  NC Ag in the Classroom Logo

Contact

Liz Driscoll, 4-H Horticulture Specialist, NC State
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Dr. Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, NCSU
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Debby Wechsler, NC Strawberry Association
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Michele Reedy, Director, NC Ag in the Classroom
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Megan Sedaghat, Teacher, Wake Public Schools
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JoJo Nichols, Teacher, Hertford Public Schools
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Curriculum Pages


Teach from the Garden: Strawberries. This is the manual that details how to build and maintain a schoolyard strawberry bed through the year.View PDF
Kindergarten - To inform students that strawberries are a type of fruit with many seeds.View PDF
First Grade - To learn that strawberries are a fruit that is grown in North Carolina and to learn the different parts of a strawberry.View PDF
Second Grade - To teach students about runners on a strawberry plant. To teach students that weather is an important factor in growing and pView PDF
Third Grade - To teach students the names and functions of major plant parts (roots, leaves, stems, flowers).View PDF
Fourth Grade - The purpose of this lesson is to inform students about growing, planting and harvesting strawberries in NC by using research View PDF
Fifth Grade - To help students understand the importance of strawberry production in North Carolina and how it relates to the US economy.View PDF
Multi-Age - Students learn how to propagate strawberries in the classroom.View PDF
Multi-Age - Students explore potential spaces for their strawberry gardenView PDF
Multi-Age - Students set aside plants to "harvest" and observe to monitor plant growth over timeView PDF

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Junior Master Gardener

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Welcome to the JMG Junior Master Gardener® program in North Carolina! JMG® curriculum provides a hands-on approach to learning horticulture, environmental science, leadership, and life skills.  This program is committed to helping young people become gardeners and contributing citizens.

Mantis - JMG characterFind a curriculum that fits for your group!
JMG activities allow the teacher/leader and youth gardeners to customize the JMG program to meet their needs and interests.  JMG can be utilized by many different groups (4-H, scouts, summer camps, etc) and age levels. The program includes:

Level 1: Grades 3-5 (Teacher/Leader Guide, Health and Nutrition in the Garden, Wildlife Gardener, Literature in the Garden)
Level 2: Grades 6-8 (Operation Thistle, Operation W.A.T.E.R.)

JMG® Teacher/Leader Guide Level 1
The JMG Teacher/Leader Guide contains the group activities. The curriculum consists of 8 chapters: plant growth and development, soils and water, ecology and environmental horticulture, insects and diseases, landscape horticulture, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, and life skills/career exploration.The group activities are integrated into math, science, language arts, and social studies.  The teacher/leader guide includes work sheets, fun pages, songs, and additional resource materials.

JMG® Handbook Level 1
The JMG handbook contains novel, hands-on individual activities for youth. The handbook is intended to compliment the teacher/leader guide.  At the end of each chapter are Leadership/Community Service projects.  These projects help the JMG group share with their family, friends and community what they have learned.  We encourage each JMG member to have a JMG handbook, however this is not required to participate in the program.

Health and Nutrition in the Garden
Children are motivated to eat the fruits of their labor in their study of “Health and Nutrition from the Garden.” This curriculum teaches children that growing and eating nutritious fruits and vegetables can be rewarding and fun. This teacher/leader guide has six learning concepts, with activity pages for children and program information for leaders

Wildlife Gardener
The National Wildlife Federation and the Junior Master Gardener program have joined forces to create an engaging learning opportunity for children. This curriculum will help children learn about the habitat needs of wildlife and develop a greater appreciation for the environment. The program culminates in a community service project, as the students develop a site recognized by the NWF as a Certified Schoolyard Habitat.

Literature in the Garden
This curriculum seeks to engage children through powerful garden- and ecology-themed children’s books. It uses six books to inspire learning through outdoor activities, creative expression and open exploration. Dozens of hands-on activities encourage leadership development, individual responsibility, community involvement, and the development of critical thinking skills.

Junior Master Gardener: Level 2 Operation Thistle—Seeds of Despair
This level 2 curriculum for the Junior Master Gardener program combines the teacher/leader guide with reproducible pages for young participants. Through dozens of exciting and fun activities, students can investigate plant growth and development, take part in service learning projects, and earn certification—all while undertaking an urgent mission to defeat Dr. Thistle!

Junior Master Gardener: Level 2 Operation W.A.T.E.R.—Dr. Thistle Goes Underground
While following the continuing saga of the evil Dr. Thistle and his plot to rule the earth’s ecosystems, students in grades 6-8 can learn important lessons on soils and water. Topics in this book include soil color, texture and structure; soil nutrients; soil improvement; soil conservation; the water cycle; aquifers, watersheds and wetlands; water movement; and water conservation. Each of the eight chapters contains three hands-on activities to reinforce the concepts covered. Also included is a section on service learning and career exploration projects connected to soil and water.

Become a certified Junior Master Gardener®.
Certification is the highest level of program participation, and includes certification in all eight units. To be certified youth must complete one group and one individual activity in each learning concept. Level one contains 44 learning concepts. Youth must also complete one leadership/service-learning project per chapter. When youth complete these activities the JMG teacher/leader sends in the completion form that lists the names of the children who have met the program requirements.  This form is found in the teacher/leader appendix. When JMG office receives the completion form, a completion certificate for each JMG youth will be sent to the JMG teacher/leader.

Register Your Group!
Registering your group is fast and free. You are not obligated to the Junior Master Gardener program (no annual fees, you aren’t obligated to complete the entire program, etc.). Registering gives us a way of knowing where our program is working and how we can provide program updates and information to you.  One of the coolest things about registering your group is that registered groups may submit pictures to be added to their very own web page within the National JMG web site! Register online here or with your local 4-H Agent with the county Cooperative Extension office.

Contact

Liz Driscoll - NC Junior Master Gardener Coordinator
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Curriculum Pages


List of Growing Good Kid Book Awards! A partnership between JMG and the American Horticultural Society to award the best Children's GardeninView PDF

Suck bugs!! Make your own aspirator in this fun JMG Activity! View PDF

Middle school students act out the symptoms of a plant nutrient deficiencyView PDF

NC Fab 4-H Agent showing off her grow card. Use these to teach about germination or sell them as a fundraiser!View PDF
Students get up and move around as mosquitos and bats and learn about echolation.View PDF

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Soil to Seed

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‘Soil to Seed: Protecting Water Quality through Soil Erosion and Sediment Control’ is a NC 4-H curriculum that engages young people in actively identifying water quality issues impacted by soil erosion and sedimentation within their community using an experiential learning approach. The curriculum has been designed to weave together environmental education objectives with interactive lessons on soil erosion that utilize the surrounding school campus, local neighborhoods, or camps as a situated learning environment.  Students explore concepts in soil erosion and sediment control in a real-world context that build a number of important skills including problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and responsibility.


Students raining on soil to measure soil runoff


The curriculum began as a series of day camps within targeted urban and rural counties in North Carolina. 4-H youth with an interest in environmental science participated and served as a pilot students for the initial testing of ideas. The youth actively provided feedback that allowed the shaping of their experiences into concrete lessons. Working with additional rural and urban schools, over one-hundred high school students and teachers piloted the refined ideas and offered suggestions and improvements. Lessons range from teaching youth fundamentals of soil erosion and sedimentation, to identifying and measuring soil properties, and analyzing water quality issues and other important life skills. The curriculum includes background materials to enhance the content capacity of teachers, assessments to verify student learning and understanding, and additional ideas to extend concepts in the classroom or home environment.

Data compiled from surveys completed by participating students in the pilot study showed an overall increase (50%) in their knowledge content for the subject, as well as a change in their current practices and behaviors towards protecting the environment.  This shift was also observed and noted in their attitudes; ability to help others, setting goals, making decisions, and other learner-centered behaviors.

Thanks to generous funding by Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. for making this curriculum possible.
syngenta logo

Contact

Liz Driscoll, 4-H Specialist, Soils
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Melanie McCaleb, Owner, NTU, Inc.
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Curriculum Pages


Download the first lesson of Soil to Seed. The full curriculum is available for free through your local NC Cooperative Extension Center.View PDF
https://www.youtube.com/user/soiltoseed to view videos on rainsplash, soil structure and more." target="_blank">
Visit our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/soiltoseed to view videos on rainsplash, soil structure and more.https://www.youtube.com/user/soiltoseed to view videos on rainsplash, soil structure and more." target="_blank">View PDF

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Vermicomposting

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Targeted for 5th grade, kids will love diving into exploring the world of wiggling worms.  Vermicomposting is a North Carolina 4-H curriculum developed by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Extension Specialist for Solid Waste Management in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NC State and provides ample opportunities for children to learn first hand about communities and ecological systems they are a part of. The curriculum includes an accompanying CD, which offers a visual reference not found in traditional classroom lectures. In addition, there is a training PowerPoint presentation with teacher training generally provided by your local county 4-H agent.

The curriculum includes:
Lesson 1: Introduction to Vermicomposting What is Vermicomposting?
Lesson 2: Developing a Functional Worm Bin Setting up a Worm Bin
Lesson 3: Identifying the Anatomy of an Earthworm Earthworm Anatomy
Lesson 4: Identifying Different Decomposers in a Worm Bin Other Critters in a Worm’s Neighborhood
Lesson 5: Identifying Ways to Reduce the Amount of Waste in our Lives Recycle, Reuse, Re-Imagine!
Lesson 6: Harvesting Worms and Vermicompost from Worm Bins to Harvest Castings
Vermicomposting Glossary

For a wealth of vermicomposting resources, visit Rhonda Sherman’s Vermicomposting website.

kids holding worms

Contact

Rhonda Sherman
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Curriculum Pages


Download the first lesson of the 5th grade Vermicomposting curriculum.View PDF

A companion lesson for high school students developed in part by NC 4-H Forestry and Wildlife Specialist, Renee StrnadView PDF

Bug Out

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Bug Out is a series of insect based activities that emphasize experiential, hands­on learning. The goal of Bug Out is to increase understanding and appreciation of insects and to reduce fear of insects. Bug Out also stimulates thinking ability, develops communication skills, and promotes positive social interactions. This will provide a fun, positive learning situation for young people, grades 2–5, when you follow the Bug Out lesson plans. Most of these activities are best done during the summer or fall when insects are most common and active out­of­doors.

Contact

Liz Driscoll, 4-H Entomology Specialist
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Curriculum Pages


Download the Bug Out Curriculum. View PDF

Other Gardening/Farming Curriculum

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The curriculum included here have engaging lessons that can enrich any youth program teaching about plants, soils and insects!

GrowLab: Activities for Growing Minds (Grades k-8)
Whether you’re growing in a greenhouse, in a GrowLab® Indoor Light Garden, or on a windowsill, Activities for Growing Minds will help spark students’ curiosity about plants and invite them to think and act like scientists. Developed by the National Gardening Association and written and field-tested by educators, this complete curriculum uses fun, illustrated activities to explore plant life cycles, examine plant diversity, and investigate the interdependence of plants, humans, and other living and nonliving things. It’s a must for any plant-based studies! Meets National Science Standards; 307 pages. (1990). Eve Pranis & Joy Cohen, Natl. Gardening Assoc. $24.95

GrowLab: A Complete Guide to Gardening in the Classroom
You’ll find everything you and your students need to know about indoor gardening in this comprehensive book by the National Gardening Association. From planning and planting an indoor garden to tackling pests and other challenges, this well-written, easy-to-follow resource will guide you to growing success. Highlights include; Setting up an indoor garden, planning and planting, choosing vegetables, herbs, and flowers to grow indoors, maintaining a healthy growing environment, tackling pests and other problems, conducting special gardening projects. 112 pages. $19.95. Available from the National Gardening Association. http://www.kidsgardeningstore.com/

The Growing Classroom
Developed by the Life Lab Science Program, this award-winning second edition has been revised to meet current science standards. A wonderful collection of classic garden activities, The Growing Classroom is a teacher’s manual featuring step-by-step instructions and strategies for setting up a garden-based science program and outdoor classroom activities. Topics include planning a garden laboratory, facilitating investigative lessons on ecology and nutrition, and involving the community. Includes an expanded gardening resource section. 464 pages; gr 2-6. $39.95 at http://www.gardeningwithkids.org/11-4017.html

girls planting4-H Growing in the Garden (Grades K-3)
K-3 curriculum that grows curiosity about agriculture, natural resources, food and people. From Iowa State. 2000.
Teachers and students are having fun teaching and learning-by-doing these classroom lessons. Standards and benchmarks were used to create more than 40 kindergarten through third grade science, social studies, language arts, history, math, music, and art lessons. The lessons and four outdoor classroom plans help students develop important life skills such as communication, critical thinking, responsibility, learning to learn, and healthy lifestyle choices. Teachers report that these lessons fit into existing lesson plans, the format is easy to follow, and the materials are readily available. More than 16 pages of resources are listed in the appendix. $60.00, order through Iowa State University Cooperative Extension

Food, Land and People: Resources for Learning.
Available (usually free) through the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Division through participation in training workshops. FLP is a Pre-K to 12 curriculum designed to help people understand the interrelationships among agriculture, the environment, and people of the world. The curriculum consists of 55 hands-on lessons, with subjects ranging from environmental science and stewardship to human populations and land use issues. Contact Sandra Weitzel, Area Coordinator, District Programs, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, 1614 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1614 / 919.218.8978 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

North Carolina Ag in the Classroom
Sponsored by the North Carolina Farm Bureau, its goal is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society, so that they may become citizens who support wise agricultural policies. Ag in the Classroom is an educational program designed to provide teachers with quality materials to teach students, through North Carolina competency-based lessons, about the sources of their food and fiber, and the importance of agriculture to the economy. Contact: Michele Reedy, North Carolina Farm Bureau AITC; P.O. Box 27766, Raleigh, NC 27611, 919.719.7282 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Farm to Table and Beyond
In this inquiry-based curriculum, students learn about our complex and highly technological global food system and how the parts of this system interact and influence each other — critical ideas in science. Children explore and analyze their personal food choices through scientific reasoning, and they apply what they’ve learned through discussions and debates to personal decisions related to food systems, health, and the natural environment. Developed by educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, Farm to Table & Beyond is the second module in the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series. Includes teacher lesson plans, background information, teaching tips, and tools for assessment; student activity sheets and readings; and a matrix mapping the book to National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Grades 5-6, 432 pages.

Growing Food
In this inquiry-based curriculum, you and your students embark on an exciting adventure — learning science through the study of our fascinating food production system. Students learn about cycles in nature, flow of energy, and food systems while engaging in hands-on investigations of photosynthesis, food webs, agriculture, and more. Developed by educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, Growing Food is the first module in the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series. Includes teacher lesson plans, background information, teaching tips, and tools for assessment; student activity sheets and readings; and a matrix mapping the book to National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Grades 4-6, 256 pages.

Choice, Control and Change
Students learn science through studying diet and activity choices. They learn about how the human body works, and how food and activity play a role in its well-being. Students engage in hands-on investigations of food preference, our food environment, energy intake and expenditure, lifestyle-related diseases, and more. Finally, they explore and analyze their personal food choices through scientific reasoning and apply what they have learned to personal decisions related to their diet, physical activity, and overall health.Developed by renowned educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, Choice, Control & Change is the third module in the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series. Includes teacher lesson plans, background information, teaching tips, and tools for assessment; student activity sheets and readings; and a matrix mapping the book to National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Grades 6-8, 224 pages.

Nourishing Choices
Drawing on a wealth of collective experience, Nourishing Choices offers educators, health professionals, youth leaders, and parents a road map for developing a food education program and exciting children about healthful eating. It features details on ensuring sustainability, profiles of winning school- and district-based initiatives, and an extensive resources section. 88 page

Got Dirt? and Got Veggies?
Got Veggies? is a garden-based nutrition education curriculum created with the goal of getting children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Got Veggies? features seven full lesson plans that are aligned with Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Nutrition, Health, Science, and other related subjects.  A series of shorter garden-based activities are also included, as well as fun recipes and helpful tips for cooking and eating in the garden.  This curriculum provides an all around great way to nurture students’ interest in growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables!

The Food Project
Amazing program in Massachusetts, connecting youth to growing food in sustainable ways.  Their goal is to create fertile ground for new ideas about youth and adults partnering to create social change through sustainable agriculture.  A series of publications that range from the logistics of setting up a youth farm and managing a program, to developing a farm market stand as well as activities books for youth development.  Visit http://www.thefoodproject.org for more information and to order books including: French Fries and the Food System, 2001, Sara Coblyn, The Food Project and Growing Together: A Guide to Building Inspired, Diverse and Productive Youth Communities, Gale, G. They also have program manuals: Academic Year Program Manual, Rural Agriculture Manual, Summer Youth Program Manuals, Vol. I, II, & III, Farmer’s Market Manual, Urban Agriculture Manual, Volunteer Manual

Garden Mosaics
Garden Mosaics is a program designed for youth and their adult leaders that combines intergenerational mentoring, community action, and understanding different cultures. Youth learn from elder community members, who share their gardening practices, cultural backgrounds, and wisdom about their community. Youth also learn from the Garden Mosaics educational resources and activities. Activities take place in community gardens, neighborhoods, home and school gardens, and indoors. Youth participants are from community centers, camps, home schools, classrooms, and science enrichment, job skills training, intergenerational, service-learning, and environmental education programs.  Developed by Cornell University. For more information visit: http://www.gardenmosaics.org. Garden Mosaics Kit (includes program manual, DVD, poster, etc), $79.98 or Program Manual, $19.99

Roots n’ Shoots
Roots and Shoots is a program started by Dirck and Molly Brown to connect youth with gardening and incorporates intergenerational cooperative learning. They have created two Roots and Shoots garden and developed a curriculum and handbook to help folks get started. This Down to Earth Handbook has everything you will need to know about inplementing your own garden program. It is a hands-on, feet-first approach to a school garden where everyone can have a good time learning and working together. This step-by-step guide includes: A notebook binder format for easy duplication of materials and addition of your own ideas, 200+ pages of useful, how-to information, detailed lesson plans for each grade covering natural science, literature, music, art, and math, with templates and samples for class projects and publicity pieces, detailed designs, planting, equipment and structures for each of the seven theme gardens, suggestions for ways to involve school staff, students, voluteers, and community organizations, and ways to get started, how to recruit and train volunteers, fund raising strategies, and how to create effective publicity. The handbooks (Volume 1 and Volume 2) are $45/each

Soil Science (Grade 2-3)
Hands-on lessons lead teachers and students through soil science basics.  Includes ongoing, performance and formal assessment tools, encourages cooperative learning and sections that relate soils to the real world..  Meets the National Science Education Standards (NRC) Delta Science Module (2004). Available through Delta Education. http://www.delta-education.com. Teacher’s Guide, $83.00. Complete Kit, $399.00

Soil and Life (Grades 6-12)
This resource and activity book, written by Dr. Robert Ridky for the American Geologic Institute, contains 6 lessons and 23 activities on topics such as physical and chemical weathering, components of soil, water porosity and permeability, land use, and more. Written to the National Science Education Standards, each lesson contains a clear objective and background information on science content and an instructional approach. Activities are hands-on and incorporate questions that promote critical thinking. Most activities can be completed with simple classroom equipment and supplies. Binder includes separately bound teacher’s guide and reproducible, loose-leaf student activity sheets.(2003).

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Curriculum Pages


Youth Gardening Curriculum: includes all of the curriculum listed here as well as additional resources books for gardening with youth.View PDF

List of links to sustainable ag curricular resources - developed by Amanda Wilkins, NCSU Horticulture Intern.View PDF

More Soils Curriculum

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The list below are additional lessons and resources that can be a part of your soil learning. Find additional lessons to download to the right.

Soil Science Society of America has an exhaustive list of soil lessons and activities, many of which have been peer-reviewed.

The Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. Their materials on teaching and learning include a rich unit on soil exploration.

GLOBE Protocols for Soil Labs including: Soil Site Characterization Selection, Gravimetric Soil Moisture Protocol, Soil Temperature, Bulk Density, Soil Particle Density, Soil Fertility, Soil Infiltration, Soil and Water relationships, Infiltration

Soil Crayons: NRCS activity, great for soil color and exploration

Hopi Seed Pot (Smithsonian)
Before seeds were commercially available, farmers gathered seeds from their best plants and saved them for planting the following year. To protect these precious seeds, Hopi women make narrow-necked pots from coils of clay. They do not use a potter’s wheel. By using air dry clay and tempera paints, you can make your own seed pot. Start with a fist-sized piece of clay. Shape a base that looks like a shallow bowl. Coils will be added to this base to create the walls of the pot. Coils should be about three-quarters of an inch in diameter. To form a coil, roll a piece of clay between the palms of the hands until the coil is long enough to fit around the edge of the base. Lay the coil onto the base and pinch it into place. Add coils until the pot is the desired height. With dampened fingers, shape the pot and smooth over the joints between the coils. Allow the pot to dry. decorate with paint. Students can bring seeds from foods they eat at home or that they grew in home gardens. Seeds should be dried in a cool, dry place before they are stored.

Sing your love of soil: Soil Songs!

Compost Gin: A card game that teaches about compost ingredients and amounts

Soda Bioreactor (Cornell)
Soda bottle bioreactors are designed to be used as tools for composting research. They are small and inexpensive enough to enable students to design and carry out individualized research projects, comparing variables such as reactor design, moisture content, and nutrient ratios of mixtures to be composted. Or try this: Bottle Biology

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Curriculum Pages


A fun module that explores basic soil physical properties through the context of a mystery.View PDF

Soil and Water is an old NC 4-H publication, but it still has good information and activities!View PDF
Do you Dig it? From Project Wet - this lesson explores the properties of wetland soils.View PDF
Its Sedimentary My Dear Watson: From the Air and Waste Management Association - students explore turbidityView PDF
The Grass is Always Cleaner: Also from the Air and Waste Management Association - students look at grass as a method for erosion controlView PDF

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4-H Agriculture & Natural Resources

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4-H Gardening
Help kids learn about garden planning, planting, care, harvesting, storage and careers! Helpers will enjoy involving Helper’s Guide offers activities, ideas and content to help leaders with their challenging and exciting role.

Entomology: Teaming with Insects
Studying nature inspires creativity by demanding that youth see what is around them and requires them to use all of their senses. Because science is interconnected, many of the activities show interrelationships among insects, plants, and the environment. The curriculum, Teaming with Insects, increases youth science literacy using insects and their relatives

Project Butterfly WINGS
Using Project Butterfly Wings youth will explore the outdoors through guided inquiry, learn to identify the butterfly families and common butterflies, and contribute to science.
A facilitator’s guide helps the educator guide youth through the steps in the science inquiry process, and become critical thinkers and decision makers.

Acres of Adventure
Guide for the after school teachers. Lesson plans will quickly involve youth in experiential activities related to insect invasion, farm physics, frontier living and more.

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Other Entomology Curriculum

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The Lost Ladybug Project
The Lost Ladybug project is from Cornell University and is both a citizen science project and lesson plans on ladybugs.  Across North America ladybug species distribution is changing.  Over the past twenty years several native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare.  During this same time ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range.  Some ladybugs are simply found in new places.

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