Young Wesley does not like what other kids like, has no friends, and does not fit in. He dreams of a more interesting existence. Using what he has learned in school, that "each civilization has its staple food crop," Wesley has the idea to launch his very own civilization as a summer project. The wind spreads seeds of an unknown plant into Wesley's yard, and it becomes the basis for his civilization, providing food and clothing, as well as inspiring a new counting system, games, and even a language. This inspirational tale will delight individualists young and old.
Content tie-ins to social studies abound
You may also be interested in the Nature Booklist's pairing and active learning strategy for Seedfolks, also by Paul Fleischman
Author: Paul FleischmanIllustrator: Kevin HawkesPublication year: 2002Publisher: Candlewick ISBN: 978-0763610524Number of pages: 40 NAAEE: Strand 2: Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems Find At Your Library
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together With Children
Centered on the child's experience in a garden, this book by gardening expert Sharon Lovejoy presents detailed and complete ideas and plans for themed gardens in small spaces. Featured experiences include growing edible vegetables and herbs (such as a pizza patch garden) and cultivating a living playhouse (for example, a sunflower house). Lovejoy outlines the top 20 plants for kids, and offers basic tips on planning, planting, and caring for gardens.
Includes charming and fun color illustrations throughout
Appendix, resources, and bibliography included
Author: Sharon LovejoyIllustrator: Sharon LovejoyPublication year: 1999Publisher: Workman Publishing Company ISBN: 978-0761110569Number of pages: 176 NAAEE: Strand 2: Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems Find At Your Library
Use content from an informational text to gather background information and inspire ideas
Identify the role that plants play in shaping culture
In this activity, students will work in small groups to choose, brainstorm, and map out how a plant described in Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots could have multiple uses. The whole class will then discuss how these uses might relate to a culture or civilization.
Copies of Weslandia and Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots
Whiteboard or Smartboard
Paper and pencil for each student
Librarian/educator will read Weslandia aloud to the group
In Weslandia, Wesley created a whole new civilization based on a plant growing in his yard. He based this on what he learned at school, that "each civilization has its staple food crop." What are some of the things from the story that his plant inspired? (food, clothing, medicine, timekeeping, counting, music, language) This same concept has held true throughout history for human civilizations--cultures have been influenced by plants they have harvested or cultivated.
Today we will be using what we learn from an informational text (Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots) to brainstorm uses of plants that may be grown in a garden, and how they may apply to culture.
Librarian/educator will share the list of the "Top 20 plants for kids" from Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots with the group.
Librarian/educator will create a sample web graphic organizer for the first of these plants listed, the pumpkin. In the center of the whiteboard (or Smartboard), the librarian/educator will write "pumpkin." The librarian/educator will then read aloud the brief passage highlighting why these are popular with children and some of their uses.
The librarian/educator will seek input from the class about the uses of pumpkins, and enter these as nodes on the demonstration "web." Ideas may include: food/eating (pies), art (carving/painting), container (for carrying water or food), lighting (jack-o-lantern), building (making a wall or shelter out of many pumpkins), etc. Encourage students to be creative! Wild ideas are okay--just think of how Wesley used his plant in the story.
Students will be divided into groups of 3-4, and each group will choose one of the 20 plants listed in Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots to brainstorm uses for. The librarian/educator may wish to have groups state the plant they are choosing in advance to avoid duplicates. As with guided practice, the plant will be listed in the middle of the web, and the group will write uses in nodes surrounding the center. Once again, students will be encouraged to be creative when it comes to uses and how they may connect to a culture.
Once the small groups have completed their webs, all students will regroup to share their thoughts/ideas.
The librarian/educator will facilitate a wrap-up discussion. Suggested questions are:
What were some of the unique (maybe wild) ideas we came up with today?
How might these connect with a culture? (sample answer might be how gourds can be used for art or musical instruments)
What are some plants that are connected to our own culture? (example could be the widespread use of coffee or tea, and that an entire segment of the economy is based on these drinks, as well as the social aspects of coffeehouses)
Notes about this strategy:
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots is loaded with ideas for students to connect with nature through gardening. If time and resources permit, the librarian/educator may wish to grow one or more of these popular plants and have the group fulfill some of the ideas they suggested.
Dr. Arnone is a proponent of libraries helping to serve their communities with programming about their local environments. She has taught "Environmental Programming with Libraries" and "Literacy, Inquiry and Nature for Libraries" at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. She is a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina.