The Living Classroom Learning Lab

"We are the keepers of this earth. We have to know how it works before we can take care of it."

Welcome to the Living Classroom Learning Lab

Lessons learned in The Living Classroom help the children connect with nature, and help them understand why that connection is important. Children experience nature first hand in The Living Garden, getting real world lessons on plants, animals, soil, ecosystems, biodiversity, sustainability and more.

Lessons by Grade Level

Seed to Seed

Nature Detective

Private Eye


"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

Fall Living Classroom Lessons 2019

Fall Living Classroom Lessons 2019

Pond: Adaptation

Home of the tiniest flowers in the world - duckweed (does not have roots attached to the soil - have hanging roots which get nourishment from the soil and multiples proficiently

Water lilies float on surface with roots at the bottom of pond- flowers close when it rains so the plant does not take on too much water and sink - lily leaves use energy from the sun to make food for the plant

Study of microscopic creatures that most people do not know are there:

Dragon nymph lives in the pond for four years before becoming a dragonfly

Water Strider skates on the surface tension of the water of the pond

Diving Beetle is an expert swimmer - kicks with large back legs and carries bubbles of air to breathe under water

Whirligig beetle whirls in the water by beating its legs at 60 times per second - has two pair of compound eyes - has a pair above the water and a pair below the water

Backswimmers swim back-downward or belly-up - its abdomen tip protrudes from the water gathering air - it carries a bubble of air on its abdomen or under its wings so it can stay submerged for a long time

Water Boatman is similar to Backswimmers but swims right side up

Prairie: Adaptation

The prairie plants are fantastic examples of adaptation - shows the children how plants can adapt to their environment

  • regular prairies have harsh winters and get little or no rain
  • no sprinkling system in our prairie

Identified prairie plants:

Big Blue Stem - roots grow downward as far as the plant is tall reaching for water

Prairie Dock - sandpaper leaves to ward off predators - also big fleshy leaves to retain water and collect energy from the sun - tallest of the prairie plants in our prairie

Cup plant - leaves are shaped like cups to hold water - pairs of leaves grow in reverse directions going up the stem

Compass plant - move in the direction of the sun - pioneers GS

Rattlesnake Master - leaves have a saw toothed edge (can cut your hand if you go down the edge) - when the wind blows the seeds in its ball shaped flowers sound like the rattle of a rattlesnake (used to ward off predators)

George Washington Vegetable Garden

  • Children learn how food comes to their dinner table
  • Children learn the life cycle of a plant - seed, to seedling, plant, flower, seed
  • Children learn how to plant
  • Children learn some vegetables grow above ground, some below ground, some on the ground
  • Children learn the basic needs of people, animals, and plants
  • Children learn about the “icky” pollinators
  • Children learn about the Three Sisters - corn, beans, and squash
  • Children learn about the plants that bring the Swallowtail Butterfly

Butterfly garden: Pollinating garden

Shaped like a butterfly

Pollinating garden - our pollinators - bee, butterfly, hummingbird

First graders learn about pollination here

First graders wanted to see more hummingbirds here - built Hummingbird garden over there

Found sign post at beginning of garden so true because here is where you can experience the magic and mystery of nature that our plants and animals already know - the form of the pollinator precludes the plant it will pollinate.

The hummingbird has a v shaped beak, so the flowers it pollinates are v shaped

The butterfly has four legs so it needs a plant with a landing pad - the zinnia

The bee is our most prolific pollinator and it pollinates everything - only one that can get into a smallest closed flower - snap dragon

Hence the mystery - how did this all come to be? - another example of adaptation

Children learn to plant in this garden- plant all the zinnias and Mexican sunflowers