Peas in a Pod here at CSG!

Posted by on May 17, 2018 | Comments Off on Peas in a Pod here at CSG!

Peas in a Pod here at CSG!

For the past 5 years we have been engaging CCS elementary school students in our version of Thomas Jefferson’s First Peas to the Table Competition. First Peas to the Table is a friendly competition between the City Schoolyard Gardens at each of the six Charlottesville city elementary schools. The competition takes place each spring where students take to the garden to see which school can produce the largest peas.

The lesson is a nod to Thomas Jefferson’s similar competition with his contemporaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. In his competition, whoever could harvest the first bowl of peas had to host the rest of the competing farmers for dinner. In the same vein of neighborly competition, we set out to plant around the same time and measure around the same time. Schools help each other build trellises and come up with ideas of how to get a better outcome. In the end, it is all about learning in the garden and eating lots of peas!

This past winter we took time to review the lesson to assess whether it is appropriate to add an additional social and cultural component about plantation agriculture and the significance of the enslaved people. During this process we reviewed the goals of the lesson and realized that since it’s development, the academic goals align more with second grade over first (where it currently was). So, to prevent duplication we skipped First Peas to the Table this year with intentions of starting back up fresh with revised lesson next spring. (side note: we did end up adjusting the First Peas to the Table lesson which you can check out by clicking the link at the bottom of the blog)

Long story short: we needed a new first grade lesson! During our strategic planning meeting in February we decided that we would adjust the pea lesson to better suit the academic needs at the first-grade level. This would help introduce pea growing and to set a foundation for next year when they do their First Peas to the Table lesson. From this came our first Peas in a Pod lesson!

Peas in a Pod focuses exploration of the pea germination process rather than the pea life cycle (as is in First Peas). We learned about the pea germination process, placed the pea under variable conditions in the classroom and hypothesized about how these conditions influence the growing patterns. We made sure to document the process and changes that occurred.

There were so many inspiring situations during these few days of the Peas in a Pod lesson. I, personally, was so impressed watching a classroom of first graders ban together to explain to me what the term “experiment” was. This was before we even started the lesson. They were able to bring in the different parts and explain that it is a “science thing” where you “don’t know something” and work to “find the answer.” Taking bits and pieces to end up coming together to create a very correct answer of an experiment.

Then we placed the peas in bags (some wet and some dry) and found places in the classroom to store them for a week. We drew predictions about what will happen. Some students thought they would all grow, but the dry bags would grow less. Some thought that the ones in the dark wouldn’t grow at all. Most agreed that the ones on the window would grow the best.

After a week or two we came back together to see the differences in the peas. We observed the long, long sprouts of the peas in the dark trying to navigate towards light. We saw the stunted growth of the peas by the window and thought it may be due to the chill on the window from the last winter weather. We saw that the peas by the artificial light flourished and grew to be the strongest sprout! The students got out their magnifying glasses and got up close to their pea plants to identify the roots, the stem, the leaves and were excited in anticipation of seeing the flowers and peas later this year!

The final step was to get the seeds in the ground in time for them to grow for the spring! The seedlings were put in the ground (with a few extra seeds for safety) and the students have been excited to see the progress in their growing throughout the spring as their seeds start to climb up the trellises!

Check out our site for more information about First Peas to the Table and Peas in a Pod including some downloadable resources and lesson plans at