Category: Gardening With Children (Page 1 of 10)

Planting a Garden in Room 6: #Kidlit for #NationalGardeningDay

April 14 was National Gardening Day, which reminded me of a perfect children’s book to celebrate it:  Planting a Garden in Room 6: From Seeds to Salad by Caroline Arnold.

Caroline Arnold has visited Mrs. Best’s kindergarten classroom before for this series (see our previous review of Carolyn Arnold’s Butterflies in Room 6  and Hatching Chicks in Room 6 was a winner of the Cybils Award for Elementary Nonfiction.)

This time:

The children in Room 6 are planting a vegetable garden.

Mrs. Best brings in some seeds and transplants. The children plant them in a raised bed garden outside their classroom. Caroline Arnold takes gorgeous photographs of the process, step by step.

Before long the plants have grown enough to be harvested and the children eat the results.

This  book is absolutely delightful. The series is called “Life Cycles in Room 6,” but the life cycle aspect is subtle. Arnold includes just the right amount of information to hold a young reader’s attention. Plus, seeing children in the photographs draws them right in.

There’s also a how-to aspect. Helpful tips for gardening are included as mini-sidebars overlaid on a cute watering can graphic.

Planting a Garden in Room 6 would be fantastic to accompany a gardening project, either at home or at school. It would be a great addition to a unit on plants, as well. Grow some young minds and pick up a copy today!

Related Activities:

Timid about gardening? Start with a pot of lettuce. Find a container that is at least 8 inches in diameter. Fill it with soil (potting soil works best for containers.) Buy some seeds and plant them as directed by the instructions on the package.

Place your container in a place that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight, and water as needed.

If the seedlings seem crowded, you can carefully pull out a few to give the rest space to grow.

You should be able to start eating your lettuce in a few weeks.

Check our previous posts about:

  1. Planning a garden
  2. Ideas for theme gardens
  3. Butterfly gardening

See our growing list of books for gardening with children at Science Books for Kids.


Reading age ‏ : ‎ 3 – 7 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Charlesbridge (March 15, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1623542405
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1623542405


Disclosure:  An electronic galley was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide

With spring in full throttle, it’s the time to get excited about gardening. If you plan on growing plants, you might want to consider adding some butterfly-friendly ones to the list. Even better, put in a butterfly garden. It is a wonderful project to share with kids.

Our featured adult-level book today, Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide by Jane Hurwitz has all the information you’ll need to get started.

What’s inside? The first part features basic information about common garden butterflies, their life cycles, and their needs. Range maps are included so you can find out which species of butterflies to expect in your area and what some of their common caterpillar food plants are.

Because the recommended species of butterfly garden plants vary depending on where you live, in Part II members of the North American Butterfly Association have written sections to suggest flowering plants and trees specific to regions around the United States, from the state of Florida to Portland, Oregon.

Overall, the book is illustrated with gorgeous, captivating photographs. It is also packed with tried-and-true practical information from experienced butterfly experts.

If you love gardening and/or love butterflies, Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide is a fantastic resource. Be inspired by a copy today.

Butterfly Gardening Activity Suggestions:

1. Create a Certified Butterfly Garden

The North American Butterfly Association encourages butterfly gardening through its certification program. To qualify, all you need in your garden are three different butterfly nectar plants and three different caterpillar food plants. In fact, look around your yard. You may already have some butterfly-friendly plants without realizing it.

Here are some butterfly-friendly plants that we’ve shown over the years:

Six Sonoran Desert Butterfly Garden Plants

Both queen and monarch butterfly caterpillars regularly use rush milkweeds as food.

Gulf fritillary caterpillars feed on passion vines.

Other insects do, as well.

At times, we’ve found painted lady butterfly caterpillars on our hollyhocks.

Adult painted lady butterfly (on lantana, a nectar plant)

Texan crescent caterpillars feed on a plant called Arizona foldwing, Dicliptera resupinata.

Citrus trees (orange, lemon grapefruit) attract numerous giant swallowtails. Their larvae are called orange dog caterpillars.

Check our butterflies category for many more posts about butterflies and plants. (We feature many different moths, too.)

2. Participate in a Butterfly Citizen Science Project

Check online for butterfly citizen science projects near you. Currently SciStarter lists 23 projects, such as:

If you decide to participate, we’d love to hear how it goes.

More Information:

Here at Growing with Science blog, we have other posts about butterfly gardening.

butterfly gardening week
Start with Butterfly Gardening with Children – which has links to a week of butterfly gardening posts, including Five great nectar plants for butterflies

Check out our growing list of Moth and Butterfly Books for Kids

Visit our National Moth Week 2017 post for related links and information.

Intrigued by the Butterfly Gardening book? If you visit the Princeton University Press website, they offer a PDF of Chapter 1

Publisher: Princeton University Press; Flexibound edition (April 10, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0691170347
ISBN-13: 978-0691170343

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher’s representative for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Compost Science Projects for Kids

Today we are joining with Share It! Science News blog in a kid-friendly investigation of composting. Here at Growing With Science we have activities to explore decomposition and the organisms found in compost. Share It! Science News is delving deep into composting with earthworms (vermicomposting). Be sure to go over and see what earthworm eggs look like.

Compost Science

Spring is a perfect time to add last year’s compost to the garden and start this year’s compost heap. While you are at it, why not incorporate some science activities for children?

Activity 1. Exploring Decomposition

Decomposition is an incredibly important process. Things rotting and decaying may not be pretty, but imagine what the world would be like without decomposition. Dead organisms would pile up and the nutrients tied up in them would not be released to be used again.

Test to see whether the addition of soil speeds up decomposition.

Note:  The observation portion of this experiment will take two to four weeks depending on materials used, temperature, and humidity. Also, set up outdoors or in a well-ventilated area and warn children not to disturb, inhale, or eat decaying materials.


  • Clear containers, gallon-sized or bigger, if possible
  • Squares of fabric to cover container
  • Rubber bands to hold cloth covers in place
  • Plant debris, like leaves, grass clippings
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps, grains (no meat)
  • Soil, potting mix, or finished compost
  • Cup to measure soil and water
  • Water source
  • Optional:  man-made materials (to check if they are biodegradable)
  • Optional:  thermometer

Prepare two containers with identical mixes of plant material and the same amount of water (enough to make damp).


Add a cup of soil, potting mix, or finished compost to one container.

decomposition-experiment-2Observe the two containers daily and record which one seems to contain materials that are decomposing more quickly. If there is a thermometer available, record the temperature of the mix each day. Add water as needed (same amount to both containers). Compare and discuss your results when completed.

Note:  Too much water will cause anaerobic conditions or lack of oxygen. The microorganisms that grow under anaerobic conditions tend to smell really bad. If that happens and you want to try to save the experiment, pour off the excess water and stir in some dry leaves or grass clippings (same amount in each container).

Extension 1:  Prepare more containers to compare the effect of adding soil versus potting soil and/or finished compost.

Extension 2:  Add various man-made materials to test to see if they are biodegradable. Examples might be different types of packing peanuts, pieces of Styrofoam, pieces of plastic bags, cardboard, or different types of paper.

Activity 2. Discovering Critters in the Compost

A compost pile is a community of living things that are dependent on each other. Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds are at the forefront of the decomposition process. Helping them (or eating them) are the invertebrates. The invertebrates help the microorganisms by tearing up or breaking up the larger pieces of plant material and by moving microorganisms about on their bodies. Remember that a compost pile that is working optimally will be too hot to harbor much besides microorganisms.

Compost.bin(Photograph of compost bin in public domain at Wikipedia)

Look through a sample of compost to see what critters are found hiding there.


  • Magnifying lens
  • Dissecting microscope, if available
  • Petri or specimen dish to hold sample
  • Tweezers, forceps or a small stick to poke through compost
  • Small paintbrush to remove debris and move tiny creatures
  • Paper and pencil to make drawings and record results
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Identification guides, or take a look at descriptions of compost critters

What invertebrates should you expect? (Links go to related Growing With Science posts)


beetles, crickets, cockroaches, ants, flies like fruit flies, silverfish, or earwigs

2011-antsCrickets, cockroaches, some flies, and some beetles feed on the plant materials added to compost. The ants, riparian earwigs and most beetles will be feeding on other creatures living in the compost pile or bin.

Snails, slugs

snail-2Slugs and snails may feed on leaves of plants added to a compost pile and help break up large pieces.





All the arachnids feed on other animals (are predators).

Millipedes, centipedes


Millipedes feed on decaying plant materials. Centipedes are predators of other animals.



Earthworms help make big pieces of plant materials smaller. See Share It! Science News for how to compost with worms.

Sowbugs, Pillbugs


Sowbugs and pillbugs also feed on decaying plants.

Nematodes (round worms)

Nematodes are by far the most abundant invertebrate found in compost heaps. They are tiny hairlike worms usually visible only under the microscope. It has been estimated that a single rotting apple may contain as many as 90,000 nematodes!


  1. See our post with composting activities to accompany the Rotten Pumpkin Book
  2. Our post about decomposing tree leaves
  3. Compost Stew Book Author Website has loads of links to compost lessons, games, information, etc.
  4. Compost Stew lesson plan from Books in Bloom (download here)
  5. Resource for older children:  food web of the compost pile illustration (download here)

Try our growing list of children’s books about decomposition and compost at Science Books for Kids.


Follow Roberta’s board Compost Science for Kids on Pinterest.

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