Science, Art and Sewing-An Integrated Lesson

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     As I have worn the hat of Summer School Teacher for 2 of my grandchildren this summer, I tried to do a lot of hands-on learning with them to keep things interesting! I am a big believer in whole language and integral learning.  Today I am going to share a theme that was very instructional, easy to find resources for and something that my grandkids really enjoyed!  Here are the parts to the lessons about Plants and Chlorophyll.

The Science Part:
   This could also be called the Science, Reading and Vocabulary part.  The kids had to learn vocabulary words such as Chlorophyll and Photosynthesis.  We kept it pretty basic because my grandson just finished 1st grade.  But they learned that almost all plants have chlorophyll and that is the chemical that gives them their green color.  They learned that chlorophyll is necessary to help plants obtain energy from light.  There are many online resources that will help you make this lesson as in-depth as you would like. Here is a great video that teaches photosynthesis. 
    The reading workbook that I was using for my grandson happened to have a selection about plants that tied in with our science lesson. 
     One related activity that we did was have my grandchildren help plant cantaloupe in our garden and watch them grow.  As the little green sprouts came up, they knew that the sun was necessary to help them grow, as well as the water and the soil.
​     We also took them on a fun field trip! (It was mostly for fun, but we got some learning in there as well!) We went up to a creek area in the mountains. 
We went swimming and hiking and my husband pointed out the different varieties of plant-life in the area.  There were trees like the Arizona Sycamore, Cedar Trees and Cottonwood.  I had my grandchildren collect leaves of all different varieties to bring home for the next part of our lesson. 
Art added to the Science!
    One way of studying leaves and chlorophyll is to remove the chlorophyll from the leaf.  When plants stop producing chlorophyll, the green color also leaves (pun not intended) and the leaf's other pigments show, such as the red, orange and yellows seen in the Fall.  There are chemical and heat methods that will remove all of the chlorophyll from a leaf and show the color it will be in the Fall. We did not use one of those methods.  But, we did remove some chlorophyll from our leaves by pounding them with a hammer onto cotton fabric. 
  • I cut white cotton fabric into placemat sized rectangles. (spoiler alert)
  • We placed the fabric on a wooden cutting board, arranged our leaves in a pleasing design and covered them with a paper towel.  
  • Using a hammer, we pounded the leaf all over.  It is easy to see if you have hit everywhere to get the leaf shape because it also shows through the paper toweling. 
  • When you think you have pounded enough, peel off the paper and the leaf to see your design on the fabric.  
    We didn't pound our leaves until the next day after our trip to the creek.  Some of them were a little wilted, some had actually dried out!  It was interesting to see which leaves would give off chlorophyll and which ones wouldn't.  Obviously, the dry leaves didn't and we talked about why that was.  Also, the green shades varied from one type of leaf to another.  The pounding of leaves was loud and fun! 
    In my stash, I found the perfect fabric to back these leaf prints to make them into placemats. I cut them out a little larger than the white fabric so that we could make a border of the fabric on the front of the placemat, framing the leaf prints.  
I heat set the chlorophyll with an iron, covering them with a cloth, hoping that the print won't wash out. Then we pinned the back on all around.
Sewing a simple straight stitch all around the border was a great way to begin to teach my grandchildren sewing.  Even my 7 year old grandson did some of the stitching on the machine, but it made him nervous so he only did one side.  My almost 9 year old granddaughter, on the other hand, loved sewing and completed 3 of the 4 placemats. (I began by demonstrating on a couple of the sides the way to hold and guide the fabric.)
    The placemats came out pretty sweet, and when my granddaughter describes them to people, she tells them that they made them with chlorophyll!  So, I am really happy that she can remember to say and use that word! 
Her stitching and corners look pretty good here!