The Q&A Archives: Teaching about Plants

Question: I am a teacher for a class of 20 second graders. In March, we will begin a Science unit on plants and their life cycles. Could you please suggest a couple of varieties which are fast-growing? We can observe them until the end of May. I have no windows,but I do have a plant light station.

Answer: You have 10 to 12 weeks to observe your plants. You'll want to choose plants that complete their life cycles--that is, flower and produce seeds--within that time frame.<br><br>Beans are a common choice. The seeds are large and easy to handle, and they are reliable growers. You should be able to get some beans to cut open and see the next generation of seeds. Choose bush varieties to grow under lights--unless you want vines climbing your light unit!<br><br>Marigolds are another common choice. They arealso relatively easy to grow and bring to the flowering stage. <br><br>Tomatoes, peppers, and peas are also possibilities, but may take longer to flower and produce seed. <br><br>Have you seen National Gardening Association's web site at Check out the "Kids and Classrooms" section for lots of information about indoor gardening with children. NGA also produces a newsletter called "Growing Ideas: A Journal of Garden-Based Learning", and a catalog of resources for educators. There's also information about "E-mail Pals", where kids can connect with other classrooms across the country.<br><br>Good luck with your project. It's wonderful to watch children get excited about plants and gardening, and it's a great way to spark interest in all sorts of related subjects.

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