Saturday, May 21, 2011

Being present with a bean!

The school year is winding down in time only. There are many, many end of the year tasks lying ahead. This makes it difficult to stay present. However, it's so important that our students continue to be the most important focus. Planting with children is a great way to get "back to the basics", have conversations with children, and create a memory.
When my daughter, Sophie, was three and four years old, she attended the Hartford Hospital Preschool. She left during her last days there with a sunflower that Debra helped her plant. We planted it in the front garden of the house we were renting at the time in Middletown. On her first day of kindergarten that fall, I took a picture of her standing next to her "Preschool to Kindergarten" sunflower. We attribute so many qualities and meanings to our experiences but this one speaks volumes to me. A little seed just full of potential became an amazing plant as tall as a kindergartener! A little girl, allowed to be herself...(thanks Debra, Karen, and Mary) in preschool, had the confidence to walk into a brand new kindergarten classroom because of the nurturing that took place in her early years. Let's give our children the gift of being present with them.

Below find a link focusing on growing sunflowers with children and following that, directions for sprouting beans with children. Enjoy!

  • Sprouting Beans In A Bag
You will need:
 a quart size zip lock bag
dried beans...lima beans work best for this in my experience
cold water
paper towels
eye droppers
flower pot

Prepare the day before:
Soak the beans in cold water overnight to help them prepare to germinate.

With the children:
For each child, you should have a few soaked beans, one zip lock bag, one paper towel, one eye dropper, and a bowl of water nearby.
1. Demonstrate how to fold the paper towel in half and then in half again. This size should fit into the quart sized bag with probably just a little towel sticking out at the top. That can be pushed in.
2. Demonstrate sliding the folded towel into the bag. At this point do not worry about the little bit sticking out at the top.
3. Demonstrate using the eye dropper, particularly if this is a new experience. Practice squeezing first, placing it in the water, and then releasing the squeeze as the dropper is still in the water. I always make up simple, little chant to help go through a process. For this, "Squeeze, water, keep it in, unsqueeze, out, now drip". It's nothing fancy, doesn't rhyme, but I usually try to give it a rhythym to include some kinesthetic learning to the process. The use of the eye dropper is a great fine motor and cognitive exercise! Such a simple thing!
4. Once the paper towel is soaked, children should choose two beans to place in the bag.
5. Push any toweling sticking out at the top into the bag and teach children how to pinch and slide to close the zip lock bag.
6. Hang the zip lock bag in a sunny window. The warm sun and soaked towel will help the sprouting process.
7. Check on the beans everyday and add water if the toweling is drying.
8. The sprouted lima beans can be planted in soil. Make a 1 inch hole in the soil and drop one sprout into the hole. Cover with soil. Moisten the soil and place it in a warm windowsill.

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