Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Our Garden Mural Project

Wouldn't it be nice to have an inside garden when it is cold outside? Let me show you a great family project of a garden mural. I did this with my four boys, ages 4-13. I gave the older students some notebooking to do, in addition to the hands-on activities. We added new items to the mural every few days. First we began by painting the background brown on the lower half for the ground level and blue on the upper half for sky.
Then our garden bloomed with flowers rooted in the soil. We learned all about the parts of flowers while we made the blossoms from paper plates, which were loaded with pollen made of glued-on cornmeal. We made some aphids out of construction paper and put them on the leaves. We learned about the parts of insects while we did this.

The next part of the project involved making a bee hive out of a paper bag for our mural and I added a Queen Bee. The boys made Worker Bees for our Queen. We reviewed the parts of insects and compared them to the aphids. We learned that newly hatched bees work inside the hive first, keeping the hive warm, making wax and feeding the larvae. We then looked at real honeycomb (from a jar) and tasted honey.

 We made paper ants to add to our garden out of black construction paper. We learned that ants and bees rely more on their sense of smell than their sight to tell who belongs in their colony. We learned what this was like by giving everybody in the family cups with cotton balls - half scented with strawberry extract and half with vanilla extract. The strawberry scent represented the ants and the vanilla represented the bees. Steven, playing the role of the sentry bee of the bee hive was responsible for letting in the bees (vanilla scented cotton balls) and stinging the ants (strawberry scented cotton balls). Our paper ants "dug" tunnels and chambers, which we made out of construction paper. Each student had one chamber and two tunnels to add to the mural.

Our hungry ants then went searching for food and smelled the sweet honey in the beehive. They tried to get in to get the honey but the hive's sentry bees wouldn't let them. The foraging ants then discovered the aphids on the flowers. Ants love to get honeydew that the aphids excrete from their bodies, and the aphids like the protection the ants can give. Now all residents in our garden were happy!

Our bees were then old enough to follow the forager bees' (Mom's) instructions to find flowers and gather nectar and pollen. After having our bees visit the flowers, we added pollen bags (of construction paper) on the back legs of our bees and glued pollen (cornmeal) to them, simulating the pollen they would have picked up from visiting the flowers.

The next thing we learned about was the metamorphic life cycle of the butterfly and made butterflies. The boys then glued eggs (navy beans) to leaves. Our butterfly eggs quickly changed into caterpillars and then the boys needed to make a chrysalis, an oval pocket made from construction paper.

We chose to sponge paint them to add texture. While the boys weren't looking, I slipped their butterflies into the chrysalis pockets and taped them shut.
Soon after our butterflies were ready to emerge from their chrysalis with a little help from the boys.

The hungry butterflies went right to the flowers to gather nectar. The boys wanted to know what that would be like, so the boys drank nectar (juice) with probiscus (straws.)

Our butterflies were chased by a bird puppet, so we needed to learn how butterflies avoid predators. We learned that many butterflies have large circles of color on their wings called "eye spots." They are called that because they look like eyes of a large creature, like an owl, to a bird who might otherwise be a predator to the butterfly. This scares the birds away.

By this time the aphids finally had done their damage to our garden and some of the flowers wilted! ( I just loosened some of the tape that held the flowers on the mural, and they "wilted.") We needed to bring in ladybugs to save the day. We had fun discovering how symmetrical ladybugs are -if they have a spot on one side, there will be another identical spot on the other side!
Adding Ladybugs to our garden.

We made them by folding a round shaped piece of paper in half. We put dots of black paint on one half, folded over again and the identical spots appeared on the other side.
We discovered a spider had made it's home in our garden, too.
We learned that spiders were not insects, however by counting their legs (8, not 6) and body parts (2, not 3).

We discovered another kind of spider as well. A Ground Spider uses a depression in the ground and, covering the hole with leaves and twigs, traps an unsuspecting insect as it falls through.
"Our garden has everything, from flowers to birds to ladybugs to ants! Notice the spiders, and seeds on the flowers. You may notice that the bee hive is er....gone, but it will be back. The mural is now hanging proudly in our family room." -Sam
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All activities and photos are from January 2008.

related posts:

  • GEMS Guides
    • Ant Homes Under the Ground   Preschool–1
    • Buzzing A Hive    Kindergarten–3
    • Hide A Butterfly    Preschool–K
    • Ladybugs   Preschool–1


  1. That is an AMAZING project! It's wonderful that it's interactive and the children created it themselves. And there is so much learning in this mural (not just a mural). I would love to attempt such a project one of these days...maybe when JC is a bit older and can help me.

  2. FANTASTIC! I love this, Phyllis. Another one to pin to my insects board. Thanks!

  3. You know, I think I babbled on about this forever in my pin trying to describe the awesomeness of it.

    LOVE this idea!

  4. We are going to have to try this with rosemary over the winter.Your guys did an amazing job:)


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