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COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being conducted consistent with the latest official state guidance. WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers are following protocols for vaccination, masking, distancing and hygiene. If this office is not open to the public, we are available during normal business hours via email, phone, and web conference.

Kits for Teaching Children and Youth About Gardening

Program Contact: Mary Watts, KCMG Program Coordinator
206-543-0943 • king.mg@wsu.edu
 

PLEASE NOTE: KING COUNTY MASTER GARDENER TEACHING KITS ARE NOT AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME DUE TO COVID-19.

 

Boy watering tree
King County Master Gardener Teaching Kits are classrooms in a box. Each kit focuses on a specific subject with curricula easily adjusted to any age group, from preschoolers to seniors. These Teaching Kits are designed to bring FREE garden-related environmental education to schools, community groups, youth programs, and senior centers. Depending on scheduling, a Master Gardener may be available to make a presentation using the kits.

Some of the special, theme-related items you will find in each of these well-designed teaching kits are included in the descriptions below. Each kit also includes a multitude of supplies such as posters, books, DVDs, hand lenses, Petri dishes, recorded songs with lyrics, hands-on props for the activities, and numerous reference resources.  The 3-ring handbook binder includes background information on the kit’s topic, along with diagrams, worksheets, coloring pages, teaching tips, curricula, and lesson plans for educating both children and adults. Each kit is housed in its own storage bin with a folding luggage cart available to make transporting them easy.

The Teaching Kits are available for FREE for a 2 to 3-week loan. For more information on how to reserve a kit, find out more about the kits, or arrange a presentation by a Master Gardener, contact the Master Gardener Program Coordinator in King County, king.mg@wsu.edu, 206-543-0943.

Roots and Shoots Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit introduces the physical structures and functions of roots, stems and leaves. This includes the types of roots, root hairs, the vascular system, herbaceous and woody stems, tree trunks and their branches, evergreen and deciduous leaves, fall color, leaf fall, transpiration, and photosynthesis. The kit includes hands on material to go with activities, such as:

  • A plant press
  • A sample root viewer, and a set of bark samples
  • Potting soil samples, and peat pellet samples
  • Food color, sprouting tools, and tree “slices”

The kit also contains background information on food plants, plant adaptations, tree growth, houseplants, propagation, and even growing salad in a pot. There are 11 books, 2 DVDs, plus posters about leaves, roots, photosynthesis as well as instructions for making a bean teepee, collecting and pressing plants, nurturing windowsill herbs and much more to draw on for inspiration.

 

Insects Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit covers information related to the diversity of insects, their structures and their functions, metamorphoses, and their location in the environment. The kit introduces “good bugs” and “bad bugs,” which ones might be found in your garden, which ones are a problem, and which are beneficial. The kit includes material that can enhance insect exploration, like:

  • Bug viewing boxes, and quadrant survey supplies
  • Bug catching cups
  • Cloth for a shrub shaking activity
  • Dichotomous key activity to the six main orders of insects
  • Set of 12 (formerly living) resin-preserved insects
  • Lots of plastic insects (and non-insects) for sorting
  • Mac’s Field Guides to Good/Bag Garden Bugs of the Pacific NW

The kit also contains background information on insect ecology, insect mouthparts, and organic pest control. There are 2 DVDs, 12 books, and posters about butterflies, insect diversity, anatomy, and insect identification. Additionally, the kit has three K-4 lessons, insect collection instructions, details for making a “pit trap,” and even a “Mini-Beast Journal” to track insect adventures, plus much more.

 

Seeds and Flowers Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit explores how plants reproduce, the structures and functions of flowers, fruits, and seeds, planting seeds, seed dispersal strategies, and pollination, as well as seed saving techniques.  The kit includes material to increase engagement with the subject, like:

  • Herbie the Seed Puppet activity kit
  • A box of various seed samples, and a film canister bean game
  • A “paper pot” maker, and a plant press
  • “Petal Attraction” material for making imaginative flowers to attract pollinators
  • Silk flower models
  • The Fruit and Seeds activity, and the Order in the Class activity

The kit also contains instructions for dissecting flowers and seeds, “finger play” for preschoolers, and information about world origins of fruit and veggies.  There are 2 DVDs, 12 books, and posters that illustrate the anatomy of flowers, pollination, seed germination, as well as seed dispersal strategies. There are many more activities and information to inspire creative explorations.

 

Pollinators Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit is not just about bees, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, bats, and hummingbirds.  It’s also about the habitat they require for survival. The kit introduces users to life cycles, pollinator syndromes (flower preferences), and concepts like conservation, restoration, and preservation. Some of the activities include:

  • Hand puppets (bee, butterfly, hummingbird & bat)
  • Butterfly life cycle model
  • Silk flowers showing pollinator preferences (shape, size, color, nectar guides)
  • Pollinator food web activity with cards and yarn
  • Sample mason bee nesting tubes
  • Get to Know Your Pollinator wheel
  • Petal Attraction material for making imaginative flowers to attract pollinators

This kit also contains information about what kids can do to help pollinators, a pollinator field journal, instructions for dissecting flowers, and a pollinator garden food web. It has 2 DVDs, 15 books, and posters illustrating a butterfly’s life, flower nectar guides, and the world’s diverse pollinators.  There is plenty of information here that lends itself to many more lessons or activities.

 

 

Native Plant/Wildlife Habitat Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit explains the interconnectedness of native plants and wildlife, the benefits of native plants, native plant identification, noxious (invasive) weeds, and backyard and schoolyard habitats. To enhance interest the kit includes:

  • A plant press
  • Gold finch, squirrel, and ladybug finger puppets
  • Biodiversity card activity, and Amazing Washington Plants card activity
  • A play, field guides, and a teacher’s guide to Seattle parks
  • Native plant flash cards

The background information and activities in the kit offer a wide variety of enrichment ideas. There are native plants landscaping ideas, and ideas for creating gardens for hummingbirds, butterflies, other birds, and beneficial insects. There are 15 books, a DVD, and 12 posters illustrating schoolyard habitats, old growth forests, streams, wetlands, wildflowers, urban wildlife, and Trees. These resources are sure to generate more creative ideas.

 

Soil and Compost Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit focuses on the importance of soil, the soil and compost food webs, decomposition, soil texture and how to build better soil. The kit includes materials like:

  • Soil sieves
  • A Soil detective activity
  • An Educator’s guide to Soil: We Can’t Live Without It
  • The Sort It Out: What Makes Soil activity
  • A Soil layering activity

This kit provides information for hands-on experiences with soil.  There is information about various uses of compost, and its benefits in the garden. There are soil lessons for 1st grade, and a soil unit for 1st and 6th grade study buddies. Additionally, there are instructions for making a Berlese funnel, soil testing, water drainage in soil, and much more.  There are 11 books, 2 DVDs (each with a teacher’s guide), and 5 posters illustrating life in a fallen log, decomposition, soils, and compost.

 

Trees Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit presents information about the structure and function of each part of a tree, the importance of trees, forest layers and their habitats, the role of wildfire, and tree identification. It also illustrates, how trees are utilized by both animals and humans. The kit includes hands-on material like:

  • Tree trunk “slices,” and a variety of cones
  • “Ollie the Old Owl” puppet with script
  • A sample clinometer to and measure tree height
  • A “Cone Hunt” checklist and identification cards
  • The “Tree Knowledge” card-matching game

This kit educates users about the criteria for selecting the right tree for the right place, and then how to plant them. It has information on “reading” tree rings, how trees “eat, drink” and “breathe,” directions for making bark or leaf rubbings, Native American legends, and even includes a glossary of tree terms. There are also 2 DVDs, 20 books, and 14 posters illustrating how trees grow, deciduous forests, evergreen (coniferous) forests, old growth forests, autumn colors, life, death & rebirth of a tree, as well as the poster “Tree Our Brother” regarding Native American thoughts about trees.

 

Worms Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit explains the benefits of worms, their anatomy, and the science of building and maintaining a worm bin, as well as managing food waste indoors. It helps us to understand how worms enrich soil, and how they decompose material on and in the soil, or within our food waste bin.  Included in this kit are:

  • Seeing Is Believing construction paper “Worm Cave” card activity
  • How worms see and hear activity (with flashlight and can)
  • The Wonderful Worm Puppet Show with two scripts
  • Worm Muscles activity using strips of elastic
  • Eyedroppers for hands-on exploration

This kit contains an activity for observing worms in a Petri dish, the Wilma the Worm story, a lesson plan about how worms see, hear and feel, and instructions for making your own worm habitat, worm home, or composter in a plastic bottle.  There are also 7 books, a DVD, and posters illustrating a worm’s internal and external anatomy, and what to feed and not feed worms in a worm bin.

 

Water Teaching Kit

This Teaching Kit introduces users to the concepts of the water cycle, watersheds, water quality, family water use, and water conservation.  A sample of activities in the kit include:

  • A Drop in the Bucket activity about the tiny amount of fresh water on Earth
  • The Incredible Journey activity about the water cycle
  • Watershed & wetland model activity
  • Water Charades
  • Water Cycle Puppet Show

The kit contains information about the actual availability of fresh water on Earth, the physical properties of water, a plant’s vascular system, and a plant’s role in water filtration.  There are tips for saving water in gardens and yards, and how to garden to protect water quality, and slow water runoff. There are 9 books (two with teacher’s guides), 2 DVDs, and 18 posters dealing with the water cycle, clouds, precipitation, and ground water. Plus, much more to draw on for inspiration.

 

Observation Chamber

The observation chamber is a 2-sided plexiglass container for soil. The chamber can be combined with any of the Teaching Kits to provide an easy way to watch growing plants, view soil layers or worms in a temporary home. The chamber comes with removable panels that reveal see-through sides for a peek into the natural processes within.

 

How to Request A Kit

The Teaching Kits are available to classrooms and organizations throughout King County at no cost.

For more information on how to reserve a kit, find out more about the kits, or arrange a lesson or presentation by a Master Gardener, contact the King County Master Gardener Program by email at king.mg@wsu.edu or call 206-543-0943.

 

 

 

The Master Gardener program is a part of Washington State University Extension presenting science-based research on a variety of environmental subjects including, plants, pest management and gardening. WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.

 

 

Feature image by Conger Design. Detail image by Phichit Wongsunthi.

 

 

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