Grade 3 started conducted investigations on plants as a part of the Small Science curriculum.
The children had to first go find seeds in their kitchen. We informed the parents through Whatsapp about this task, telling them to show the children the various seeds, but not to give away which would sprout and which wouldn't.
Children brought various kinds of seeds - moong, tuar, chana, methi, sago, coriander, mustard, apple seeds, lemon seeds, sundals, wheat, rice (processed), chia seeds etc. We "planted" these in paper cups with damp cotton wool. It was important to write down each child's name and the name of the plant on each cup for identification purpose. There was an interesting discussion on the names of each seed in Tamil, English or Hindi.
As a class, we also took three large trays and planted a "farm" - 3 different kinds of seeds - mustard, moong and chana. So children could see how a large number of plants grow.
The children drew the seeds for the 1st day in their workbooks. Most children are resistant about drawing - they feel their artistic skills will be judged. So it was important to reiterate that the drawing had to be accurate, rather than beautiful.
As many children didn't know the names of various pulses and grains, Teacher Murshida bought various kinds of these and made little ziploc bags with identifying labels. This really helped the children.
The children observed their plants over the next few days. There was not much on the 1st day. But on Day 2, kids could see small shoots emerging. We "sacrificed" some seeds - I opened up the seed to show them the shoot inside. They were really excited!! On Day 3 hey also observed how some plants had grown big, some were just sprouting, some were not sprouting at all and some had developed fungus. I made them smell the cups too - they hated the rotting smell.
On Saturday, we had no school for children, but did have a Moms' Meeting. Kids instructed their moms to water their plants, and to take pictures using cell phones for the kids to observe the changes.
On Monday we examined each cup and discussed the futher changes. Some plants had grown beautifully long, but thin. Some were completely rotten. Some were the same.
I asked them to guess why. "We gave too much water." "I forgot to water." We discussed how the rice they brought wouldn't sprout because it had already been processed. The date seed would take a long time to sprout. The apple seed had actually sprouted but then it died.
The moong had developed beautiful roots and root hair. As they've been working on the Parts of the Root in their Elementary Montessori curriculum, they could identify the root, root cap, root hair etc.
We wrote down our observations. The children had insightful comments - about whether the plant had sprouted or not, what was its colour, how large was the stem, how many leaves it had etc.
The workbook question which asks children to compare and contrast (2 similarities and 2 differences) is often a googly for kids. The concept of what is "similar" is sometimes hard for them to understand - whereas they can quickly note the differences.
So this time I put the large "farm" trays in front of them for this question. We observed and found 2 similarities between the moong and methi in one classroom, and moong and chana in the other. The direct observation and group discussion really helped children understand the activity. The children noted that the horse gram took longer to sprout, the moong sprouts were longer and had many leaves.
This is a wonderful curriculum - which teaches children important science skills - experimentation, investigation and observation. They also learn that science is not fixed in stone, but evolving. That there can be "wrong" guesses - and that's perfectly okay! Its a mindset that Small Science develops, which will help children in the long run.