"Late one summer, my first graders noticed that the lettuce plants in our school garden were getting taller and sending up flowers," reports Westfield, IN, teacher Nedra Hoard. "So we took our hand lenses, observed what was happening, and eventually noticed that seeds were forming where the flowers had been."
Nedra explains that the students were amazed at this transformation. Most of her urban kids had no idea that plants went through such a change and produced seeds. With an eye toward gathering the newfound treasures, students left some flowering plants outside so they could observe what happened next, and brought others into the classroom to dry. They spread the harvested seeds on a tray to dry in the warm classroom until school resumed in the fall.
When they returned, the students decided to plant some of their salvaged seeds in the GrowLab to see if they'd germinate and grow into plants that would, in turn, go to seed. The students were rewarded on both counts. Further inspired, they decided to package their bit of garden magic to share with others.
As fall weather spells an end to outdoor gardens, consider encouraging your students to become seed detectives by identifying, collecting, and saving their own seeds, then packaging them for gifts, for sale, or to trade with other growing classrooms.