Before launching a growing project, consider using colorful, descriptive seed packets as a way of engaging students, building class identity and boosting self-esteem. Karin Hess, teacher consultant in Vermont, suggests doing so by first asking students to each carefully choose a seed packet from a collection. Then, in pairs or small groups, have them take turns describing why they chose their particular packets.
Next, ask students to choose three words or phrases from the seed packet that they feel somehow describe themselves. Encourage them to think creatively when choosing descriptions, for example, tall and spiky...prefers hot weather...blooms year-round.
Then, again in pairs or small groups, have students share how the words or phrases they chose help describe them ("I chose...because...") You may also want to have each student pick just one of his or her words/phrases and explain to the entire class why he or she chose it.
Finally, invite the students to imagine themselves as special, unique seeds and to design a personalized seed packet, beginning with the three chosen phrases, and adding additional words and drawings to describe themselves. Suggest that they include names (e.g.,little Lisa sunflower), descriptions, and what they need to thrive and grow (e.g., likes lots of sunshine). Hang these personalized seed packets on a bulletin board or individual desks.
Consider using the activity as a springboard for hands-on investigations by having students sort themselves according to the types of seeds they chose, then come up with questions to investigate (e.g., Which type of lettuce will germinate first?)