Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Gailbraith
Plant a Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
Activity 1Ask your students to look at their feet and raise a hand if they are wearing shoes with Velcro straps. Can they think of other clothing or items in their homes that use Velcro? Are there items around the classroom that rely on Velcro?
Let the class know that Velcro was invented by a man named Georges de Mestral. The idea came to him one day after he and his dog had been walking outdoors. Georges noticed that burrs, a kind of plant seed, were sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur.
Project several photos of burrs on the classroom SmartBoard and tell students that when Georges looked closely at the seeds, he saw why they got caught on clothing and fur. Your students can see why, too.
Divide the class into groups of two or three students and give each group a hand lens and a Velcro strip. Invite group members to take turns looking closely at the Velcro. If students are wearing sneakers with Velcro straps, encourage children to look at them, too. Each child should draw and label what he or she sees.
After a few students have had a chance to share their drawings, explain that when Georges saw hundreds of tiny hooks on the burrs, he realized that the same kind of little hooks could be used instead of buttons and zippers. Later, someone else realized that Velcro straps could replace shoelaces. And that meant people wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time tying their shoes.
Let the class know that hooking onto clothing and fur isn’t the only way that seeds disperse, or move to new places. After sharing some of the books listed above, work with your class to make a list of seed dispersal methods.
Gather several kinds of seeds and place them in your classroom Science Center along with a half dozen hand lenses. When students have free time, encourage them to visit the center, observe the seeds, and predict how they might disperse.
Divide the class into two teams—New Animals and New Machines. Then divide each team into three smaller groups (A, B, and C). Let the students know that each New Animals group will brainstorm to come up with an imaginary animal with unusual or surprising body parts that could spread seeds like the fox (Group A), bird (Group B), or squirrel (Group C) in Planting the Wild Garden. The imaginary animal’s body parts should make it possible for the creature to disperse more seeds in less time than the real animal it is mimicking. Similarly, each New Machines group will brainstorm to come up with a new machine that could disperse seeds like the fox (Group A), bird (Group B), or squirrel (Group C) in Planting the Wild Garden. The invention should disperse seeds more efficiently than the animal it is mimicking. After the brainstorming sessions, each student should create a drawing of their group’s New Animal or New Machine.
Invite the groups to take turns sharing their visual models with the class. As the children present, encourage them to explain their designs and how they mimic the actions of real animals discussed in Planting the Wild Garden.