Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Plant Sitter and the Garden of Eden: Another Read Aloud to Real Challenges Lesson

As summer blooms add color to our yard, I am reminded of the fourth lesson I facilitated in the Read Aloud to Real Challenges Course that I created for a homeschool co-op a little over a year ago.   The flowers that the children fashioned in that class (as well as the ones my own children made when I repeated the same class for them at home) were as colorful as the perennial garden patch in our yard now is.  The attention and creativity with which they created their flowers was equally as beautiful.

Two ways I continually try to train up my children with happy hearts are to:

  1. honor and encourage their creative genius.
  2. relate how their creativity is borne of our creator’s genius

The lesson I centered on The Plant Sitter and the Garden of Eden aimed to do just that.

Materials and Tools Needed
  • a copy of The Plant Sitter by Gene Zion (I believe this book is out of print.  We got our copy from the library and were thrilled with it.  If you cannot secure a used or librarycopy of the book, you could use a book on the same theme, such as Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert.)
  • blue paper
  • scissors
  • yarn
  • pipe cleaners
  • construction paper
  • recycled plastic lids
  • tape
  • styrofoam trays
  • leftover “great stuff” from other craft and challenge times
  • hole punch
  • stapler and staples
  • white boards and dry erase markers or scratch paper and writing tools
  • a picture book or painting with the Garden of Eden for inspiration

Welcoming Prayer and Stretch

The same as in Lesson Three.

Warm-Up Challenge: April Showers Bring May Flowers

To set up the challenge, bring out a pile of blue paper pre-cut into rain drop shapes, cut shapes as you chat with students and present the challenge, or challenge students to cut some rain drop shapes.  In the spring, ask what April showers bring:  May flowers.  Or, at this time of year, ask what thunderstorms help: plants and flowers.  Finally, challenge students to create as many bloom/flower shapes as possible within five minutes using only the raindrop shaped pieces of paper (and, perhaps, some pipe cleaners.)

As tempting as it may be to guide, model or help students make blooms, be sure to honor each child’s creativity by staying quiet during the pause that may occur as students solve the problems involved with this mini-challenge in their heads.  If a child gets “stuck” and seems “too” frustrated, simply ask some questions as guidance:  Can you name any flowers?  How many petals do you notice in such a flower?  What shapes do the petals make? Etc.

Read Aloud: The Plant Sitter

Ask children if they can guess what today’s story might be about.  Then, show the cover of The Plant Sitter.  Take a picture walk through the story’s rich illustrations and ask children to predict what they think the story might be about or ask questions that the text might answer.

Read The Plant Sitter, asking individual children to help read any text that they may be capable of and taking time to stop to really notice the details within the pictures and to make connections and predictions about the story as you go.  Be sure to identify what the problems in the story are and what the boy does to solve them. 
Ask children how the boy applied the strategy for solving problems that we have used for the past few weeks. How did he identify his problems, come up with plans for solving them, test his ideas and, if necessary, adapt his approaches?

For a richer experience, also discuss themes and values related the book—responsibility, hard work, ingenuity, the value of research, etc. Maybe even liken the way the plants grew and grew in the story to the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  Isn’t it amazing the way when one child offers meager gifts and talents, plenty can be creates?

The Main Challenge: Creating A Model of the Garden of Eden

Planning the Designs
Note that in the story we read, there were lots of growing things.  If it is winter or spring, mention that as the weather warms, many folks plan and build gardens.  If it is summer, talk about all the growing things outside.  If it is autumn, discus which plants are still growing and which are dying off for the winter.  Ask who can name the parts of a plant (roots, stem, leaves, petals, seeds).  Then ask if children can think of a Bible Story about a very special garden?

Present the day’s main challenge and its guidelines:

  • We will build a model of our own imaginary Garden of Eden.
  • It should be a rainbow of colors and contain plants in all shapes and sizes.
  • Each plant must have all its parts (stem, leaves, petals, seeds, roots).
  • Each planet must be freestanding.
  • Each plant must be made from materials provided, using  the tools provided (which may not actually become part of the construction).
Creating and Testing Designs
To encourage students to plan their model plants out first (as well as to avoid a free-for-all with materials), let them know they must use white boards and markers (or scrap paper and writing utensils) to brainstorm.  Once they have sketched their ideas and/or listed the materials they would like to use to test out their designs, they may collect materials that their plans specifically require.
Once children begin using their requested materials, if they discover they need other materials, offer them freely, but ask them what each new material might be used for.  As always, encourage children to look critically at any problems they may run into with their designs and to helps each other discover ways to overcome these or to revise their plans.
Challenge Complete!
Finally, of course, have students put their plants together to form a garden!

  • If you wish to add another parameter to the challenge, consider bringing one-inch cubes.  Suggest that plants may stand no taller than 12 stacked cubes and no shorter than three.
  • If any students finish early, simply extend the challenge by asking them to create more plants.  Or, add related challenges, such as a suggestion to creatures that could be found in the garden.
  • Inspiration for this lesson plan came from Planting a Rainbow at Children’s Engineering Educators, LLC.
  • If you happen to use ideas from this plan for your own home or classroom, please point folks back to this post (or series), and, also, be sure to stop by again with a comment to let me know how it went.  I always enjoy hearing how others adapt my lesson plans and collaborating to improve them for future use.
Want more?

Check out:

·         Lesson One, when Albert’s Alphabet inspired us to build self-standing letters in honor of the Holy Spirit

·         Lesson Two, when My Friend Rabbit had us building towers to point to God.

·         Lesson Three when Mr. Bear’s Chair encouraged us to build our own Sabbath chair models.


Cris said...

Hi Martianne,
I loved the "April showers bring May flowers" craft and the Sabbath chairs (they're so cute!!).

I am also pasting here a comment I wrote in response to the one you wrote in my blog, just in case you didn't read it:
Thanks for your encouraging comment. You made me laugh at the though of you having a thousand books to be read, like me!! I've often told you how inspiring you are to me, so you can't be doing it that lousily...
I haven't read about that book, and can't remember if you've written about it. Can you tell me the author? Is she Ann Pelo?

Kind regards from Spain

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cris!

The book I referred to in my comment on your blog post is Language of Art by Ann Pelo. I love the book and plan to purchase it since I never have it out from the library at the "right" times.


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