Hunter-Gatherers in the Classroom

We are finally experiencing cooler weather after a long, hot summer. Flowers have, in most cases, gone through their useful life. Those dried-up flowers don’t indicate a dead plant, of course, but the beginning of life. Now is the time to bring in seeds to examine and save over for next spring. Here are some ideas:

Seed Center
Have students draw pictures of plants, research the proper names and attach samples of seeds. How fast did the plants grow? What are the plants’ dimensions? What are the root structures? Do they like shade or sun? What kind of conditions will likely cause the seeds to sprout?

Seed Comparison
A quick walk through a garden will reveal different ways seeds form and are scattered. For example, you will find seeds in berries and fruits, those formed in the centers of flowers like sunflowers and some in seed pods that form after flowers have died off. Look at how the seeds are scattered…do they fall direct to the ground or do they have ways to make them mobile?

Winter Over
Save seeds for planting next spring. Remember that some seeds need to freeze over the winter in order to germinate properly in the spring. What happens if seeds are planted now? Can they be frozen in a freezer for a few weeks, then forced to grow in the classroom? If so, will they grow all winter? What conditions: light, moisture, head, type of soil, etc. must be met for seeds to sprout?

Seed Math
Estimate how many seeds are produced by an average plant. If they all grew, how many plants or how much area would be covered by plants in five years?

Seed Stories
Write stories about seeds, from the seed’s perspective. In a paragraph or two, cover the entire life process of the seed.

Extra Credit
Have students do some brief research on “seed savers.” Many gardeners save and share seeds in an effort to revive certain types of “vintage” plants. As the years go by and commercial seeds proliferate, many of the original plant types get lost. Have students write about the virtues of saving seeds and what it means for future generations of gardeners or farmers.
The Seed Savers Exchange has a beautiful and informative website. They also offer school fundraising programs!