What it's all about
Gardening brings fun and learning together, making lessons more engaging and inspiring. While classifying information is a fundamental geographical skill, a garden can open a pupil's eyes to the Earth's varied ecosystems, writes Jane Griffiths.
A homework task, followed by class discussion, could be based around work as "garden detectives". Ask pupils to identify five plants in their garden or local park. They can take photographs and find out where the plants are from, using online resources. The detective work comes in classifying them by the shape, colour and size of leaves as well as their height. Patterns become apparent when plants from different biomes can be seen to have similar characteristic adaptations. An interactive whiteboard or old school wall map could chart where the plants in the pupils' gardens come from.
Your student detectives could be challenged to think of the reasons why there are so few garden plants from rainforest and desert regions. Do they have any house plants from these regions? What are these adaptations? Many homes have an orchid.
Although a trip to the rainforest is beyond most departmental budgets, a secondary-school workshop in botanic gardens is the next best thing.
Through the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, we help UK schools to use a garden in the curriculum. They can register for free and access a wealth of online resources, such as lesson plans, by going to www.rhs.org.ukschoolgardening
Start your own school garden and help pupils to learn more about ecosystems with a handy guide from Cool it Schools, bit.lycoolitschools. Test pupils' knowledge of ecology and ecosystems with funforester's quick questions, bit.lyecoquestions.