First-grade green thumbs

Collaboration across grade levels at Notre Dame leads to young students experiencing hands-on learning compliments of high school botany students.

First graders from Notre Dame's Marist Academy got their hands dirty and their thumbs greener this week when they traveled across campus for a hands-on experience in the school's new greenhouse. They learned about plants and seeds, and participated in a scavenger hunt that helped answer many questions they had including a big "green" one.

"For many of the first graders, it was their first time coming to the greenhouse," said Carolyn Tuski, Notre Dame's botany teacher and greenhouse manager. "The scavenger hunt was to help them get comfortable in the greenhouse and to explore what actually goes on inside a greenhouse. They also found out that the greenhouse isn't actually a 'green' house!"

According to first-grade teacher Kimberly Kriesel, the experience Tuesday was a collaborative one.

"Our first graders are currently learning about science investigations and will be starting a unit on plants for phase 6," she said. "We partnered up with Carolyn Tuski's class of tenth through twelfth graders to have a real hands-on experience in the greenhouse. Ms. Tuski's students guided the lesson for the first graders with the scavenger hunt and they also planted marigolds. Ms. Tuski will eventually bring the plants over to the first-grade classrooms so the students can personally observe and record their growth in their science journals."  

Tuski said it was another great example of how Notre Dame encourages the partnership of students and staff across all grades.

"My students helped them to identify different kinds of plants, shapes, colors, sizes and requirements for growth, such as light, water, soil and air," she said. "The first graders were able to explore, ask questions and make observations about the greenhouse and plants. They also planted those marigold seeds in clear pots so that they can not only watch the plant and flowers grow, they can observe root growth as well." 


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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three Notre Dame schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at