The wonder and importance of plants
         As the weather gets warmer and we start thinking about spring, it is a
good time to plant seeds and watch them grow.

         If you do not have an outdoor place in which to plant seeds, indoor
flower pots will do. This is an activity that is easy to work on together at home
and it can be a fun lesson for children to learn about the way things grow.

         You may buy seeds, but you can also sprout several things that you
probably already have in the house: a potato, sweet potato, or carrot top are
three items that many people already have on hand. Or you could see what
happens when you plant seeds from fruit or vegetables you eat at home.

         The Tiny Seed is a wonderful book by Eric Carle. It chronicles the cycle of
a seed being planted and growing into a flower. This is but one of many cycles
of life that children can learn about in order to appreciate the wonder of the
world around them. 

         Another Eric Carle book, Pancakes, Pancakes, chronicles the steps it takes
to be able to put pancakes on the breakfast table -- from harvesting wheat to
making the pancakes themselves. It is a great example for showing children that
what they eat had a beginning in nature and didnít just pop out of a box
purchased in the grocery store.

         Many other books explain the benefits of plants to people. I have found
that children as young as first graders can understand the process through
which plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, while people do the
opposite. This is an example through which we explain to children the
relationship that people have with plants, and how important they are to us.

         Planting seeds and watching them grow puts children in touch with a vital
force of nature. It is an easy way to give them this connection, and leads to a
respect and understanding of the process on which we all depend for food and
oxygen.

 This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.

 
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