Gardening with children may turn up questions voiced by the children or suggested by their behavior. As you observe children in the garden or a natural area, take a few notes about what they look at or touch. Model how you wonder about a phenomenon in the garden by saying it aloud, such as, “Is this sprout taller today than it was yesterday?” Not all questions can be investigated by children. “Why are most leaves green?” is a question that can be researched in books or online, but not investigated by young children. Children can investigate “Are there any leaves that are not green?”
The December 2010 issue of Science and Children addresses questions in many articles. Linda Froschauer, Field Editor of Science and Children, writes in the Editor’s Note “Investigable questions are important elements of lessons that promote inquiry and help students construct meaning. Good questions help students make links between what they know, what they want to find out, what they observe, and how their observations fit within the context of their learning and development.” Asking questions, and planning and carrying out investigations, are two of the Science and Engineering Practices identified in A Framework for K-12 Science Education, one of the foundational documents for the Next Generation Science Standards.
Here are some other questions that children can investigate in a garden:
Do all vines go around a pole in the same direction?
Do day lily flowers close up at a certain time in the evening or do they stay open longer if they are in bright light indoors?
What happens to a leaf when rain falls on it?
“Where are seeds made?” is a question to investigate over time by making observations of more than one plant. While drawing a plant in the garden children may notice more than when walking through the space. A simple “journal” of a sheet of paper folded in quarters and a marker are all the materials needed to give children time to observe and think about what’s happening in a garden.