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Do You Keep Plants In Your Classroom?

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Over the years, I’ve made a few feeble attempts at keeping plants in my classroom. Students seemed to like it, but the few times I had them I took them out at the end of the year and just forgot to bring them back.

An article I just read about, though, is making me wonder if I should make having them more of a priority, and I’d be interested in hearing feedback.

Jonah Lehrer writes in The Psychology of Nature about some studies on the effect of nature on increasing attention and working memory. In fact, one study showed a positive effect on just looking at a nature picture. He suggests that “it’s a good idea to build a little greenery into our life.”

I’m going to make a more serious attempt at bringing “a little greenery” into my classroom this year.

Do you have plants in your classroom? If so, why? If not, why not? If you have plants, do you believe it has an effect on students?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

11 Comments

  1. I used to keep a giant lavendar plant in my room. It was great for many reasons. We could use all of our senses to observe it and write about it. Students could learn about the needs of plants and lavendar is said to have a calming effect. I am not sure if it is coincidence or not but my classes seem to be a little rowdier these days. That plant died and I never replaced it, but maybe I should.

    • You may consider growing the most Tickled Plant in the world. It is called the TickleMe Plant because it acts as if it were being Tickled when you Tickle It!
      The leaves fold in and the branches even fall down. It seems like it will replace the lima bean as the most grow plant for the classroom.
      See video and by all means grow one.
      http://www.ticklemeplant.com

  2. YES! Easy ivy that spreads and takes very little attention. I plan on bringing in more this fall. My room is the Media Lab and I think it is important to soften all the tech and futuristic lines with some living, breathing nature (if I could do fish too, that would be fantastic!). Kids are entranced by the technology and stare at monitors, phones, TVs, etc. for a huge part of their day. I think it is so beneficial to present some natural components into their sightlines where I can.

  3. I just bought a Ponytail Palm tree today for my classroom. I’ve named it “Raymond Carver” after my favorite author, and I’m sure the 7th graders in my class will get a kick out of their teacher naming his plant. I haven’t had one before this year, but it’s already brought a little extra life to my classroom. Classes start on Wednesday, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. I brought plants into my classroom for the first time this year. When I landed my first teaching job, my classroom was upstairs with two other lone classrooms with no windows, no ventilation, no sunshine. I would often make fake window scenes to bring a little nature into our little isolated world. After three years, I was finally moved down stairs with the rest of the school. I was so thankful to have windows that looking at the trees across the street was a welcome relief. However, this year, I happened to have an over abundance of house plants on my back porch and was wondering what I was going to do with them all when cold weather arrived and decided my classroom would make a nice overflow. I incorporated two plants into the room and have to say the entire environment looks more alive, fresher, homely and just a little more inviting. As of yet, I am not sure what my students think, because school only started two days ago. I did make a joke to my co-teachers that I was bringing the plants because I teach middle school and I needed a little oxygen in the room to help fight the middle school hygiene monster. After making the statement, I thought maybe there was some truth in the humor. Plants do pump oxygen into the air. They do help filter the air and absorb odors. All in all, I guess I will have to wait and see what the students think; however, they make me feel happier, and a happier teacher makes for happier students. Happier students makes for more productive days. I am pretty sure the plants are there to stay. No more fake nature for me or my students.

  5. The first plant I had was a gift from a student with visual impairments. I wanted to be sure he’d notice it, so I put it right next to my scanner at the check-out desk in my library. It was in a mauve glitter flowerpot–not my thing at all! I was worried that it would get knocked down given its location, but all the kids loved it and were very careful around it. I’ve had to replace the plant, but that gaudy pot still holds court on my counter.

    My only other experience with plants in the classroom was a ball cactus in 8th grade. We knocked the ball off the top during a vigorous game of Nerf ball while Sister Virginia was in the hall chatting with another teacher. Thank God for KrazyGlue!

    I do bring flowers in often. A cheap bunch of sunflowers, with scented geranium from home will last two weeks with fresh water daily. My library opens out to rosemary-filled and mock orange-filled planters, and I’m able to keep my door open year round.

    I think most classrooms today lack beauty, and I’ve seen so many students respond to the perfection of sunflowers, or the scent of the geraniums or rosemary. Bring those plants back, Larry! Your students will appreciate it.

  6. I keep orchids on my desk, but I agree with the other comments more flowers in classrooms please.

  7. Hi there,
    I am a 2nd year mature age grad teacher, teaching grade 1/2 children in a brand new classroom. Yes lucky I know! But how much work it is to set up a blank canvas!!! One of the first things I did in January was bring in an orchid for a writing activity which stayed as it prompted so much discussion from students and teachers. Then I just kept adding and now I have a ‘plant monitor’ that waters and looks after them. I agree with previous comments about oxygen, nature, smells and an inviting environment for children to learn in.
    Cheers,
    Gill
    Australia

  8. I love this idea. I teach high school in NYC in a nearly windowless class, the only windows are 20 feet up and small. This idea makes me look forward to the school year, which is amazing given the situation in NYC public schools now. I am thinking of bringing in a plant or two since reading this. My question is does anyone know which plants grow fine without natural sunlight?

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  10. I just stumbled across this blog post as I recently finished creating a ‘green room’ in the annex of our classroom. I love plants! I think they make the classroom look so much more natural and alive. Students love working in groups in this room. They say it makes them feel more comfortable. I made a vertical plant wall and love the look of it. It’s very easy to maintain, we water our plants twice a week. The pots also have water-saving bases so that the water doesn’t leak on the walls. I just finished a blog post on how the room came together… feel free to check it out :) http://missaoun.weebly.com/3/post/2014/04/classroom-update-the-green-room.html

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