May 1 , 2006

School Arbor Day Plantings

Contributed by Lisa Horton, TMMS teacher

On Friday, April 28th, the entire 6th grade neighborhood at Thunder Mountain Middle School participated in Arbor Day activities. As a team we planted 18 trees, 12 Rhodies, 8 butterfly bushes, 8 lavender plants and over 60 different plants in flower beds around the school.

Each teacher was assigned an "area" to plant. The teachers directed and worked with students in planting the area. Our theme for the school this year was "Put your best foot forward". Literally, my students wanted to leave their "footprint" on the school. I told the students that this is something that they can come back thirty years later and still be proud of what they did!

For my 6th grade classes, this activity was an extension of our life science unit. Students have been learning about systems and how one system interacts and depends on another system. Students were studying this by growing plants and butterflies together in the classroom. We wanted to create a habitat for the butterflies to have when we released them, and this is where the idea of participating in Arbor Day came from.

As a class we also read the book Things with Wings. This book was about a tree that turned middle school students into butterflies. In the book we read how delicate a butterfly's habitat is, and we knew that we needed to be careful in our selection of plants. If we planted the wrong plant the butterflies could die. So all in all, this was a culminating activity for a science/literacy unit. I wanted to teach students that a subject, such as science or literacy does not stand alone but is one small part of our learning and that something is truly learned if we can apply it to a situation that is meaningful to us.

Arbor Day, planting trees for the butterflies that we grew from eggs, on plants that we grew from seed, in planters that we made, was very meaningful to us!