No Series: Exploring Garden Ecosystems

Exploring Garden Ecosystems

Lesson Objective: Students work in groups to explore attributes of ecosystems first-hand
Grade 3 / Science / Connection Circles


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. What does the teacher do at the beginning of the lesson to manage 3 different groups doing 3 different activities?
  2. What advice does Ms. Reed give for outside activities and why?
  3. How are students informally assessed during and after the activities?


  • Private message to Ivan Remus
I love this lesson. Excellent lesson and student engagement! Thank for sharing!
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  • Private message to Carolyn Thomas
Thanks for sharing; awesome lesson and student engagement!
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  • Private message to barbara goemans
Great lesson
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  • Private message to Sherri Devine
@Anna Gaiter All of the supporting materials are MS Office docs, and when you click on the links for them they very quickly download. I use Chrome for my browser, and it happens so fast you might miss the arrow that briefly shows up showing the doc being downloaded. Can you check wherever it is you have your browser set for downloads? If you still can't find them, just post a reply here and I can zip them up and email them to you. Thanks for being a part of our community and apologies for the trouble you're having.
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  • Private message to Anna Gaiter
Great lesson! Thank you for sharing! I am having trouble downloading the lesson plans and other supplemental materials. Is there another way to retrieve them?
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  • Great Lesson Ideas: Exploring Garden Ecosystems with Molly Reed

    Reed: [00:00:08] Hello, I’m Molly Reed, and I teach second and third

    Great Lesson Ideas: Exploring Garden Ecosystems with Molly Reed

    Reed: [00:00:08] Hello, I’m Molly Reed, and I teach second and third grade at Borton Primary magnet School. [00:00:12]

    [00:00:19] This lesson is called exploring garden ecosystems. Who’s ready to get started on your activities? [00:00:23]

    [00:00:24] There are three activities that we’re going to do today. Are you excited for that? [00:00:30]

    Child: [00:00:30] Yeah. [00:00:31]

    Reed: [00:00:32] In this lesson, we’re working on garden ecosystems. The students come out to the garden, and we split up into three different groups. One group works on identifying plant parts. [00:00:40]

    [00:00:40] All right with this group, the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to take these yellow cards which have definitions. You’re going to tape them next to what you believe the role is for each one, so here’s the tape. Viola. Okay? [00:00:52]

    [00:00:52] The other group gets to plant and record plant growth over time. [00:00:57]

    [00:00:57] So what you’ll be doing is, first of all, selecting a plant to plant in one of the garden beds. You will then create a behavior over time graph. You can use pictures or words or both. Okay? [00:01:13]

    [00:01:13] And the last group makes a garden connection circle. [00:01:16]

    [00:01:16] So what you’ll is using this chart, or things that were in your journal that you haven’t included, you’re going to write down seven living and non-living components. Okay? And you will do this; you’ll write the components on each of the lines. You will then draw how the things are connected, and then here you will label the relationship. [00:01:38]

    [00:01:38] So you may start once you get your journal. [00:01:40]

    [Children walking around talking and looking 01:40 – 01:55]

    Child: [00:01:58] Here it says pollinated and I think flowers get pollinate. [00:02:02]

    Reed: [00:02:02] Okay. Do you all agree with that? [00:02:05]

    Child: [00:02:05] Yeah. And it also produces [inaudible 02:07] [00:02:10]

    Child: [00:02:11] Do you think this absorb nutrients will go at roots? [00:02:14]

    [00:02:15] Yeah it’s gotta be. [00:02:15]

    [00:02:15] No I think it might be leaves because leaves when you eat like lettuce, and it gives you nutrients. [00:02:25]

    Reed: [00:02:25] So you need to make something that’s at least this deep. So you can keep checking and coming back to it. [00:02:29]

    [Children planting 02:29 – 02:36]

    Child: [00:02:35] This plant you planted it and we’re seeing how long it takes it to grow into jumbo junior. [Laughter] [00:02:44]

    Child: [00:02:46] Little plant, medium plant, jumbo junior. I’m going to treat this plant like it’s a baby. [00:02:50]

    Reed: [00:02:50] I don’t know, which connection is this? I see bee and flower, what does that mean? [00:02:54]

    Child: [00:02:54] Bee to pollinate flowers, the flower. [00:02:59]

    Reed: [00:02:59] And why is that an important connection? [00:03:01]

    Child: [00:03:01] Because he goes to flower to flower and makes them grown. [00:03:05]

    Reed: [00:03:05] Excellent, all right. [00:03:06]

    [00:03:06] One thing being outside, can be totally over stimulating for students, so you really have to make sure the activities are very well explained and not too overbearing. I say set time limits, but sometimes we just are so involved in one thing, and one group is really more involved in things. It’s kind of hard. You have to be really flexible. [00:03:24]

    [00:03:24] Who has not shared yet? Those of you, who have shared, thank you for still paying attention and participating. [00:03:30]

    [00:03:30] So I assess students both informally and formally. The informal assessments will include looking at their connection circles, and their behavior time graphs, and their journals and making notes about what concepts they understand. Then we’ll also have formal assessments, we’ll have like a quiz and a test at the end that will go over the standards that need to be covered for the ecosystems unit. [00:03:49]

    [00:03:57] The students love the garden because they get to play in the dirt, because they get to see things grow. They get to water things. They get to take care of something that they’ve created. [00:04:05]

    [00:04:06] If you don’t have a garden, you can still bring in plants from the local nursery. Bring in living and non-living things into your classroom. Have them start sketching parts of different items, and then have them just really examine things. [00:04:21]

    Child: [00:04:22] I think that’s lettuce. [00:04:23]

    Child: [00:04:25] Really? Where’d you get that—[00:04:26]

    Reed: [00:04:27] I really want you to do this lesson so I’ll give you the lesson plan that goes over center activities as well as written directions for your students to look at and documentation sheets. [00:04:37]

School Details

Borton Primary Magnet School
700 East 22nd Street
Tucson AZ 85713
Population: 450

Data Provided By:



Molly Reed
English Language Arts Math Science Social Studies / 2 3 / Teacher


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