This Earth Rangers Project Starter will get you and your class started on your next project. Our “build-your-class-project” tool will give you ideas — you take it from there! No matter where you are in Canada, we hope this sparks the creativity you have as an elementary school teacher and inspires you to engage your students in environmental learning.
Earth Rangers Connections: Students will get to see the biodiversity in seeds and plants first-hand. They might even be inspired to adopt sustainable practices like reusing materials (e.g. for pots) and other resources (e.g. saving seeds), choosing native plants, growing their own vegetables, or growing pollinator plants in a garden.
Curriculum Connections: Needs of living things, plant growth, inquiry.
Start it up
1: PICK A SEED SOURCE
- From pollinator-friendly plants native to your area
- From other plants native to your area
- From cores, pods, or pits of leftover fruits or vegetables
- From local farms
- Saved from last year’s school garden
2: PICK A POT
- Paper egg cartons
- Reused plastic seed-starter trays (consistent size)
- Commercial compostable seed-starter trays
3: PICK A LOCATION
- Outdoors (check the plant hardiness zone)
4: PICK LEARNING OUTCOME(S) FOR ASSESSMENT
- Students are able to make predictions about whether the size of a seed affects seed germination.
- Students are able to compare and contrast the size of a seed to the size of its source plant.
- Students are able to describe the attributes of seeds and their source plants.
- Students are able to develop investigations to assess their predictions.
- Students are able to record observations according to a schedule.
- Students are able to justify the use of pollinator-friendly plants in a garden.
- Students are able to justify collecting and saving seeds from one year to the next.
Set it up
Adapted from Kracl, C., & Harshbarger, D. (2017) and McLennan (2018).
Inspired by the “Beautiful Tree Project” from kindergarten teacher Deanna Pecaski McLennan in Ontario, Canada, this is a chance for students to explore measurement in nature. Give students time to observe, sketch, and wonder about the tree. Give them different tools to measure the tree trunk. Make sure there is time to try different approaches.
5: PICK A QUESTION(S)
- How tall and wide do you think the tree is?
- How many limbs do you estimate are on the tree?
- How many leaves should you include in a drawing of a tree branch?
- Do you think a drawing helps people appreciate how large and beautiful a tree is?
- Why do you think you need to start at the very end of the [insert measurement tool here] rather than the middle of it?
- How tightly do you need to wrap the measurement tool around the tree trunk?
- What will you do if the measurement tool is not long enough to wrap around the tree trunk?
- What was the most important tool you used? Why?
- Why don’t all the numbers match when you measure the same tree (e.g. the number of links vs numbers marked on a measuring tape vs standard measuring tape)?
- How could you measure to see if this tree is bigger (and older) than another tree of the same kind?
- Why do you think some trees grow bigger than other trees?
6: PICK AN ASSESSMENT TOOL
Use one of our handy Early Elementary Science Skills worksheets or create one of your own!
- Sketches and drawings
- Hand-drawn maps showing tree locations
- Checklists to compare tree sizes (e.g. bigger or smaller than the first tree measured)
Keep it up
7: ADD COMMUNITY
- Take the seedlings home to grow in home gardens.
- Transfer saplings outside to a school garden.
- Invite parents/guardians to collect seeds from home gardens.
- Invite a local farmer to talk about tips for growing seeds.
- Ask a local garden centre to give advice on the best planting locations.
- Invite an Elder to share traditional knowledge and practices for seed-saving.
8: ADD THE ANIMAL COMMUNITY
Look for pollinators and other critters who appreciate these plants in their habitat.
9: ADD EXCITEMENT
- Seeds that weigh 30kg
- Travelling seeds
- Pollinator-friendly habitats
- Your school lunch menu (look for edible seeds like peas, green beans, chilli beans)
10: ADD AN EARTH RANGERS MISSION FOR HOME
- Ashbrook, P. (2017). The Early Years: What Other Colors Can Bean Seeds Be? Science and Children. 55(2), 18-19.
- Council of Ministers of Education Canada. (1997). Common Framework of Science Learning Outcomes K to 12: Pan-Canadian Protocol for Collaboration on School Curriculum. https://science.cmec.ca/framework/
- Earth Rangers. (2010). The Double coconut palm produces seeds that weigh 30kg. https://www.earthrang-ers.com/omg-facts/1668/
- Earth Rangers. (2020). Eco-Activity: Germination Station.
- Earth Rangers. (n.d.) Eco-Activity: Kitchen Scrap Crops.
- Earth Rangers. (n.d.) Eco-Activity: Save Your Seeds for Spring.
- Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Pollinator Power Planting Guides.
- Earth Rangers. (n.d.) Travelling Seeds.
- Gerking, J. (1992). Seeds of Inquiry. Science Scope. 15(8), 29-31.
- Keeley, P. (2016). Formative Assessment Probes: Promoting learning through assessment. Science and Children. 53(9), 20-21.
- Kracl, C., & Harshbarger, D. (2017). Methods & Strategies: Ask the Right Question. Science and Children. 54(9), 78-82.
- Lux, C. & Stephens, L. (2020). Farm to Early Care and Education. YC Young Children. 75(1), 76-83.
- Natural Resources Canada. (2021, April 14). Plant Hardiness of Canada. Government of Canada.
- Province of Nova Scotia. (2019). Science 3 Guide. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. https://curriculum.novascotia.ca/sites/default/files/documents/curriculum-files/Science%203%20Guide%20%282019%29.pdf
- Smith, D.C, Cowan, J.L., & Culp, A.M. (2009). Growing Seeds and Scientists. Science and Children. 47(1), 48-51.