Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Case for Class Plants

 This is just a quick post to strongly encourage my teacher friends to get some plants into their classrooms (or add a new one).  There are a number of reasons why class plants make a fantastic addition to your learning area.  Increased oxygen levels, responsibility building, novelty in otherwise mundane tasks, a hands-on science manipulative, and bright accent in your room are all good reasons to go green in your living spaces!
An increased oxygen supply is one of the main reasons I brought plants into my classroom- especially because I don't have any windows or outside doors, and the air circulation in our 40 year old school isn't so hot.  Well, actually it is hot, because we don't have any air conditioning!  More oxygen equates to a better-fed brain, which should in turn help with higher productivity and better learning in your class.  In the age of high-stakes tests, this is always a plus!

 Another reason to get class plants is to have students build responsibility by caring for them.  This is particularly helpful for students who need a "special job" or for one of the options for your class job list.  In my classroom, all students can apply for jobs, and those who get their job applications turned in on time and relatively neatly with good reasons for why they should get that job, enjoy employment for two months.  "Gardener" is one of the jobs, and it's usually a popular one.  I'll do a whole new post on my class jobs.
Yet another reason I keep plants around is to add novelty to mundane things.  For example, instead of having students just say the scientific method aloud, or sing a chant, or read a page of their book aloud, or recite the parts of speech poem, they sing or say it to a PLANT!  For elementary school students especially, this is weird, unusual, and a little crazy, which makes it inherently FUN!  We have also named all our class plants, and I can refer to them when doing related science lessons, like teaching about photosynthesis, camouflage, etc. Pictured below is Frederick Jr.  He is a sprout off of my original class plant, Frederick.  The two spider plants above were started as tiny spiderlings and have grown over the years, much to the delight of my dozens of students who come back to my room after moving on to middle and high school.  It's one more thing that students will remember fondly from your classroom!
There you have it.  Increased oxygen supply, responsibility building, something fun to practice oral language with, a hands-on science manipulative, and something to make your classroom a nicer, brighter place to be.  The only question is what type of plant you should add to your room.  I have 2 marble queens and 2 spider plants at this point, and I'm going to add bamboo to both of my fish tanks.  What types of plants do you have in your classroom?  What species thrive with only florescent light?  Which are little-grabbing-finger resistant?  What plant do you have that you think looks the best?  Leave a comment and share what's worked for you, or your plant-related quandary!


  1. What a GREAT idea! I've been hesitant for a class pet, but a plant would be perfect!!!! And the plant won't bring "friends" back to your classroom... or will he??????? Oh no... more to think about...
    Thanks for the little push to make my room a little "greener". :)


  2. Class plants are awesome and I'm sure your students would like some! Just start with something that's pretty easy to keep alive- or find a friend with a plant that's reproducing. My spider plants send off spiderling shoots so frequently that I can give them away to my students (I usually give them to the kids with the best homework scores). Good luck with your plant adventure!