Clubhouse Garden Math: Common Core in the Dirt

We do a lot of learning here at the Clubhouse.
Everything from Math to Science, Literacy to Geography, and so much more.

The irony is, I hardly do any teaching at all.

They learn through what we're doing, not because of it.

We get a lot of questions about "Common Core State Standards" though. Basically people want to know how we're going to ensure standards are met for Kindergarten.

Because really, how can these core requirements be learned without specific worksheets, flash cards and teacher led instruction?

To that I say, we start in the Garden...

and if you want to see what that has to do with common core,
be sure to read the writing in italics over here on this side.

It all starts with dirt.

"I can carry this dirt to our garden bed!"

Really? You think so? How much does it weigh?

"Maybe 5 pounds. I can do it."

He then proceeds to attempt to pick up said bag of dirt, which weighed far more than 5 pounds.
He soon realizes, this bag is heavy.

"This dirt weighs more than me." 

"Really? You think so? How much do you weigh?"

"50 pounds."

 He's right, he does weigh 50 pounds. Yes, I have a 50 pound 4 year old.

From here we decided to get out the scale and start weighing dirt.
We compared the weight of the dirt to his weight.
We made predictions on how many bags it would take to fill our newly built (thanks Daddy) raised garden bed.

"I think it will take 7 bags."

We weighed the bags as they went it, and counted how many bags went in.
All the while we were, literally, playing in dirt.

When we thought we might lose count of the bags going in, we used rocks.
For every bag, we added a rock to our count wall.
In the end we counted our rocks to find our final bag count.
22 rocks. 

"That needed way more pounds of dirt than I thought!"

Did I mention that all the while we were playing in dirt?
Sound like Math to you?

  Count to tell the number of objects. 
    CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.5 Count to answer “how many?” questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1–20, count out that many objects.
Describe and compare measurable attributes.
    CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as .. weight. 

Now that we have dirt, we moved on to seeds.
I'm no master gardener here, so I was reading the back of the seed packets for planting instructions.
The children are not the only ones learning at the Clubhouse ;)

I read the direction out loud that clearly states,
plant 3 seeds in holes that are 2 inches apart.

My Clubhouse Kid dashes into the classroom and comes back with a ruler.

"This has inches on it, we need to use this."

Well yes, I believe you're right.

So we put the ruler right on the dirt and start digging our little seed holes, perfectly measured to be 2 inches apart.

First scales, now rulers.
I didn't even know today we would be covering Math.
I thought we were gardening.

After measuring, the next part was simple.
Add 3 seeds per hole. 1, 2, 3... 1, 2, 3..
More of that whole counting to tell the number of objects thing ;)

Since we weren't planting carrots in our entire garden bed, we had to move on to new packets of seeds with new directions.

To simplify our planting process, we decided to organize our seeds.

"I have six bean seeds, 12 radish seeds and 18 squash seeds!"

I continue to read directions out loud.
The Beans need to be planted with one seed every 4 inches.
Radish needs two seeds per inch.

He talks while he measures and digs and drops in the right seeds.

"The beans need less seeds in the hole than the radish." 

"The radish are closer together."

Our ruler got more use during the planting of this garden than it has ever really gotten in the classroom. So, now we have rulers outside with our gardening materials. We have measured the heights of our little sprouts as they grow, and have compared who is tallest. Squash wins every day, growing the tallest. Zucchini is close behind though.

Compare numbers. 
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.6 Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.
Measurement & Data
Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.
    CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.
Describe and compare measurable attributes.
      CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

We take a break from our big garden bed and start to work our "mini-garden".

The egg carton holes are already all lined up for us, all we have to do is add dirt and the right number of seeds. We decide to change seeds for each row.

First, a row of Cantaloupe.
"Let's plant the squash next to the cantaloupe."

Cantaloupe. Squash. Repeat. 

"Let's put the mini garden on the table next to the garden bed."

"The tomato pot should go behind the bed." 

Identify and describe shapes.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.1 ...describe the relative positions of objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.

Our plan was to start a new garden.
To dig in dirt, plant seeds, and watch food grow.

Along the way, Math happened.

Together we got some Sun, got dirty, and now we're watching food grow.

...and that's how we cover common core at the Clubhouse.

All of the listed Common Core Standards, 
are straight from

We have also used our gardening to explore science, literacy and geography, but we'll save that for another post.

Now, go put some rulers in your garden bed ;)

Ms. Liz

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*Note: I am aware that these are not ALL of the common core standards for Mathematics for Kindergarten. Can they ALL be covered while gardening? Actually, I think so.. but that would be a really loooong post ;)

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