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Gardening is a great way for children to learn about habitats and food chains, growing healthy food and plant science, writes Anne Gunning.

Reading a seed packet, counting and sowing the seeds, then tending a crop will inspire children of all abilities to understand and enjoy plants and nature, and learn where their food comes from. These experiences can then form the basis for many cross-curricular projects.

Interdependence and adaptation are key elements of upper-primary science and the garden is the ideal arena for teaching them. Ask children to study the plants - can they spot any that are specially adapted? Why do some flowers give off a scent and why are they so vivid in colour? Then move on to wildlife by explaining how moths changed their colour to blend in with dirty tree bark during the Industrial Revolution. Minibeast hunts will excite all age groups and link well to The Very Hungry Caterpillar for younger children.

A lesson could be built around "caterpillar camouflage". Scatter coloured wool mixed with browns and greens around the garden. Ask children to play the role of hungry birds hunting for food by swooping down on hidden caterpillars one at a time and sticking them on a board in the order they are found. You will find that the brightly coloured caterpillars are found first. Can the children explain why? By playing the role of predator, a child's understanding of survival and adaptation techniques seen in nature is enhanced.

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What else?

Resources from TES partner Growing Schools encourage hands-on involvement with food, farming and gardening. bit.lygrowingschools.

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