Growing and measuring plants

This week, the children’s reflections on their planting were all about size. Mine is longer,  Lilly”s is the tallest, Jojo, how did yours get so big? I often ask the children, How do you know …? and they certainly heard that question from me this week. How do you know yours is longer? How do you know that this other one isn’t longer? Most of the time their responses were, Because I see it, or I just know, or It looks tallest. This conversation was a great lead-in to viewing the PEEP live-action video, “Measuring Heights”. In the short clip, two sisters measure themselves using cardboard bricks. My students were able to understand that the sister with the bigger number of blocks was taller.

Our small group math work this week focused on measuring the children’s plants.  We used non-standard measurement tools at first, primarily wooden cubes.

Now they had a new way to answer my How do you know? question. Victor’s is tallest because it is 15 blocks high. Jonathan’s looks almost as tall, but is 14 blocks high.

Once the children had a little experience measuring with non-standard tools, I added wooden rulers and a tape measure. Some of the children can recognize numerals and were able to tell the height of their plants using these tools. For some, it eliminated the step of counting the blocks. Other children were a little more skeptical and still counted the inch markings. The tape measure also added the need for collaboration. Children had to depend on their peers for help to hold the tape.

To help the children see for themselves that all three components – soil, water, and sun – were needed for their seeds to grow so successfully, we tried an experiment:

Using identical beans, we planted one in a container with soil and placed it in the sunny window—we did not water it.  We placed a second bean in a container with only water (no soil) and then put it in the same window. We planted a third bean in soil, gave it water, but didn’t allow it any sun—we covered it with black paper and kept it away from the window. We compared the results with those seeds/plants that had received all three components. Here is a brief video of some of the children reflecting on the experiment:

Check out the PEEP science curriculum unit on Plants.

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