The Munched-Up Flower Garden


The Munched-Up Flower Garden

The Munched-Up Flower Garden-Join Liz and Dean and their friends, The Troublesome Creek Kids, as they find trouble even when they aren't looking for it.  Liz works all spring and summer to grow the best flower garden and is certain that she will win a blue ribbon for her trouble at the annual picnic.  Trouble is, someone's goat found her garden and munched it up on the morning of the picnic. Liz cut loose with a squall that would knock your socks off.  EEEEEEEEEEEEE! Troublesome Creek is living up to its name. Illustrations by K. Michael Crawford.

Classroom Activities


The Munched-Up Flower Garden

  Read and discuss The Munched-Up Flower Garden.   Ask the following open-ended questions:
1. Is competition good? Why or why not?
2.  What character interested you the most?  Why?

3.  Why do you think Liz worked so hard to grow a beautiful garden?

4.  Sallie came by often to visit with Liz.  Why do you think Sallie was so interested in Liz?

5.  Do you think Liz will grow a garden next year?  Will Sallie?  If they do, whose garden will be better?

6.  Have you ever been so angry you wanted to scream?  What made you so angry?  What are ways we can handle our

7.  What happens when you plant a seed?  What does a flower need to grow? Discuss how soil, rain, and sun help plants grow. Discuss how some plants sleep during winter and wake up in spring.  

8.  People eat different parts of plants.  Some eat bulbs (potatoes and onions); some eat seeds (peas and beans); some eat
stalks (celery and asparagus); some eat roots (carrots); some eat leaves (lettuce); some eat fruit (strawberries).  Ask children
to identify their favorite plant foods.  Create a food chart of favorites.
Discuss and interpret the data represented in the charts.

Plants protect themselves from danger, such as insects, animals, and people. What are some types of protection plants have developed?  Thorns, spines and prickles, odors, poison and off-flavors are typical answers. 

10.  How can plants become pests?  Weeds invade gardens and yards, some plants cause us to sneeze and cough, and some are poisonous to touch or eat.

Conflict Resolution/Anger Management

Ask the following open-ended question:

1.  What is anger?  Conflict?

2.  What are some things that make you angry?  How do you feel when you are angry?  Compile a list of positive and
negative feelings.  Write positive on one side and negative on the other.

3.  Have you ever been angry with a friend, a sibling, or a classmate?  Did you say things you wish you hadn’t said?   

4. Is it okay to be angry sometimes? 

When are some times when it’s okay to be angry? 

What are some ways we can handle anger besides yelling or fighting? 

Brainstorm ideas and write ideas on a poster board.  (Examples:  compromise, problem solving, count to ten before saying a
word, breathe deeply, listen to music, talk with an adult, separate yourself from the person who makes you angry).  Post
ideas on a chart and hang in classroom.  Refer to chart when conflict arises).

5.  How do you think Liz felt when Sallie bragged about her flowers?  Why do you think Sallie came by Liz’s garden so
often? Why did Sallie brag so much?  How would you have acted if you had been Liz? What are some good ways to handle
someone else’s anger?

6.  Role play situations that can cause anger.  Give children a few minutes to rehearse.  Examples:

A.  Your best friend laughs when you fall and hurt your knee.

B.  Your sister teases you about the way you eat spaghetti.

C.  In selecting teams, your best friend doesn’t choose you.

Discuss ways in which the children would likely handle the situations.  Role-play the situations again focusing on positive
ways they can handle anger.

7.  What can you do to calm down an angry person?  Group children in teams to come up with possible answers and report to the whole group.

8.  Plants need care and feedings to grow.  The same is true of friendship.  What type of care and feeding do friendships need?

9.  Friendship Flowers

Hand out parts of a flower to each child.  On the center circle write “A friend is.”  Children will write one word on each petal that illustrates a good quality that a friend should possess.  Example: Fun, likeable.  Staple or glue the flower petals to the center.  Display on a bulletin board or wall.

10.  Planting Seeds of Friendship

Write the word “Friendship” on a board or poster.  Hand each child a printed sheet with the letters f,r,i,e,n,d,s,h,i,p at the top.  Each child will write as many words as they can using the letters f,r,i,e,n,d,s,h,i,p.

My Own Garden
Marigold seeds
Plastic cups
Potting Soil

Children love to grow plants from seeds.  Different kinds of seeds can be used, but marigolds are a good choice since they
are easy to grow and bloom quickly.  Place potting soil in the bottom of a plastic cup.  Plant the seeds, water, and place in a
sunny window.  Each child and parent will work together to make one cup.  Take cups home and plant in garden or

Journal writing:
Each day children will write their thoughts, expectations, and observations of the planting and growing of the flowers.  

Write an acrostic poem about gardening or flowers. 

(Write a word, using each of the letters, to describe a garden.)

1. Stepping stones add interest to a garden, yard or walkway.  You can make you own stepping stone and design it any way you want to.  You can decorate it with an imprint of your hand or foot, your dog's paw, marbles, paint, or any item you choose.

Stepping Stone Materials:
Fast-drying cement

Items to decorate:
marbles, pieces of broken glass (such as plates), leaves, paint, etc.
Aluminum pie pans
Non-stick cooking spray

Coat the inside of the pie pans with the cooking spray.  Mix the cement with water until it looks like oatmeal.  Pour the cement mixture into each pan and rub your hand over it to level the mixture.  Clean hands and put on gloves if decorating with sharp items.  Carefully place the decorating items into the cement creating a design you like.  Leaves can be pressed gently onto the concrete to leave a design; then remove the leaf.  Allow the cement to dry for 24 hours.  Invert the pie pan and the stone will slide out.  Place the stone in a special place in your garden or yard.

2.  Seed Art.
Give each child a sheet of light-colored construction paper and a half-cup of seeds.  Bird seed will work well for this project.  Children glue the seeds on the sheet in various designs.  Display the seed art in the classroom.

3.  POP POP! 
Watch the popcorn grow. 

Materials:  Bag of popcorn, one Ziploc bag per child, bag of potting soil, water.
Directions:  Pour 1 cup of potting soil in a Ziploc bag; add four kernels of popcorn and enough water to dampen the soil.  Seal the bag and place it in a sunny window. Have fun watching the popcorn grow.

4.  BRRRR! It’s Cold Outside.
We wear coats to protect us from the weather.  Did you know that seeds wear coats to protect them, too?  Let’s look inside a seed.   Soak a lima bean in water over night.  Give each child a bean and have them peel off the seed covering. Split the seeds in halves. Look at the different parts of the bean.  Younger children: Draw the lima bean.   Older children:  Label the names of the parts of the seed on the drawing to include the seed coat, root, leaves, food storage, and embryo.

5.  How Many???
Explain that most plants come from seeds. Display a variety of seeds: acorns, marigold, watermelon, sunflower, carrots, lettuce, rice, etc.

Let the students guess the number of seeds needed to fill a cup.  The number will vary according to the type of seed.  Use at least three different types of seeds for this experiment.  After filling each cup, have children count and chart the number of seeds per cup.  Example:  Rice, watermelon, and marigold.  Discuss and interpret the chart data.   

6.  Grow your own plants.  Place a wet paper towel in the bottom of a clear plastic drinking cup.  Place a bean on the paper towel. 

Each child will have two cups.  One cup will be placed near a window and the other in a dark area of the classroom.  Lead a whole class discussion about which of the seeds they think will grow quickly. Check the cups daily and discuss the findings. 

Have children estimate how long it will take the seeds to germinate. After the seedlings sprout, plant the most vigorous in soil and chart their growth.   Have children decorate cups, then plant marigold seeds in each cup.  Let plants grow and allow children to take plants home to their mothers for Mother’s Day.

7.  To show children the power of a root system, place a stalk of celery in a clear glass partially filled with colored water.  Watch the celery change colors over the next few days.

8.  Plant a school garden.  School gardens are an alternative classroom and can be integrated into the curriculum. Children plant seeds and care for the plants.  Gardens teach children about nature, math, social studies, science, and art and open the door to learning about the living world.  This is a fun way to build child interest. 

First grade children learn about butterflies by growing plants that attract butterflies.  Butterflies need food (flower nectar), water, and housing. 

Fourth grade children grow and tend to plants that Native Americans and colonists grew.

Children work together to make the garden grow. They study the plants that thrive and those that don’t.  Children observe, paying attention to detail, and write their observations, questions, and predictions in a journal.

9.  Make a friendship quilt.  Each child in the class or group will illustrate a picture depicting friendship.  The pictures will be placed on the wall in a quilt pattern.  After to quilt is “hung,” each child will identify his/her quilt square and explain the picture.

10.  Writing:   Pretend to be Sallie or James and write a letter to a friend explaining your version of what happened to Liz’s garden.  Include events in the beginning, middle, and end of The Munched-Up Flower Garden. You found a strange looking seed.  After you planted it, you couldn’t believe your eyes.  The seed grew into a plant that…  Write a story using this plot.   Without plants, we wouldn’t enjoy many of our favorite foods.  We wouldn’t have chewing gum or pencils or paper.  Our houses would not be built of wood.  Write a story about life in a world without plants.

Create a new plant.  Illustrate the plant, give it a name, and describe the plant.  How is it different from other plants?  How is it similar?  How is the plant beneficial to people, animals, other plants, or the environment?  Is it harmful in any way?  If so, how?

Did you know that some plants eat animals? The plant, Venus’s-fly trap, has leaves that close when an insect lands on them. After the insect has been eaten, the leaves open again to catch another snack. YUM!  Pretend you are a Venus Flytrap. Write about your favorite insect meal.  What is the best tasting insect dinner?  Do you prefer a different insect for breakfast? 

What’s for lunch? 
How do plants help people and animals?  What do plants provide?  Possible answers:  fuel, food, oxygen, building material, fiber, medicine, paper, pencils.  Have children fold a sheet of white paper into four squares.

Draw an item we get from plant in each square on front and back of the paper.  Older child may write a caption below each illustration. 

Readers Theater

The Munched-Up Flower Garden

The Munched-Up Flower Garden by Nancy Kelly Allen
[For educational use, please contact]

Reader's Theater

Characters in order of appearance

Liz (a hard-working girl who grows a flower garden)


Aunt Pearl (Liz’s aunt)  

Sallie Young (girl who is also growing a flower garden)

Dean (Liz’s brother)

James (Liz’s best friend)

Mr. Dobson (announcer)

Mom (Liz’s mother)

Dad (Liz’s father)

Liz:  I was so bottled up inside I could chew iron and spit nails. My flower garden was gone and so was my chance of winning a blue ribbon. I cut loose with a squall that would knock your socks off: EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Narrator:  Aunt Pearl came running from next door.

Aunt Pearl:  Well, do tell!  Liz Reilly, whatever is that racket?

Liz:  S-s-s-somebody’s goat munched-up m-m-my flower garden.

Narrator:  Liz couldn’t hold back the tears. Even Aunt Pearl’s hug didn’t plug the flood.

Liz:  I know that somebody.  Sallie Young¾she is the no-account one who owns that no-good munch-y goat!

Narrator:  It all had started back in the spring. Liz plucked seeds from Aunt Pearl’s stash. Seeds she didn’t already have, like impatiens and petunias.

Aunt Pearl:  Sweat and toil.  And a little sweet talk. That’s what it takes to win a blue ribbon for your flower garden at the annual Troublesome Creek picnic.

Liz:  I planted, seed by seed. I watered, drop by drop. Then I waited, minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day. My plants were not in any all-fired hurry to grow. I tried to sweet talk my seeds, but after two weeks of being nice, I told them if they wanted another drink from me, they’d better show me something!

Narrator:  Liz’s threat must have worked ’cause two days later she saw a little green leaf, knee-high to a grasshopper.

Liz:  WHOOOOOOWEE!!!  Wouldn’t you know, my squeal woke my little brother, Dean?  He’s bee-stung-bulldog contrary when he wakes up early from a nap.

Narrator: Out Dean stomped, lip dropped low enough to step on.

Liz:  Mom blamed me for waking him.

Narrator:  And to heap on the misery, up marched Sallie Young.

Liz:  She reminded me she had won a blue ribbon for the best flower garden four years running, just in case I’d forgot.  No such luck.

Sallie:  What are you looking at?

Liz:  My flower.

Sallie:  Where?

Narrator:  Liz thought Sallie must be blind as midnight.

Dean:  Where?

Narrator:  Dean added his two-cents worth.  Liz wondered whose side was he on, anyway.

Liz: (pointing) There!

Sallie:  My flowers are already blooming.

Narrator:  Sallie wheeled around and left.

Liz:  (whispering) Good riddance.

Narrator: Liz whispered to her cat, Scarface.

Dean:  Mom says if you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything.

Liz:  I looked at my brother and said nothing.But my look must have said plenty.  He hightailed it back in the house.

Narrator:  Soon sprouts were popping up left and right. Liz gave the thirsty petunias a drink, weeded the impatiens, and talked to the marigolds. Sweet talk.

Aunt Pearl:  I do declare.  Liz, your flowers are a sight for sore eyes.

Narrator:  Sallie kept coming around, all regular like.

Liz:  You’d think I actually wanted to hear about her blue-ribbon blooms.

Sallie:  My garden is the prettiest on Troublesome Creek.

Liz:  Just as I opened my mouth to give her my not-too-pretty opinion, I spied Mom at the screened-in door. I had nothing to say to Sallie. My best friend James from just four houses down Troublesome Creek finally got his sorry self over to my garden to admire it plenty.

James:  Liz, you’ve got one eye-popper of a garden.

Liz:  I was feeling fit as a fiddle until I saw that Sallie had planted her feet in my garden.  Again!

Narrator:  Sallie swung her beak to let Liz know she wasn’t done pecking.

Sallie:  (bragging) I haven’t decided where I’ll hang my blue ribbon this year. My wall is getting crowded with them.

Liz:  Yep, I thought, this garden is getting very crowded with you in it. I had nothing to say to Sallie, but I did make a scrunch face. Mom never had said nothing about faces.

Narrator:  Picnic morning Liz leaped out of bed to make one last check on her flowers before the judges showed up.

Liz:  EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!   (Upset) A splatter of impatiens. A clump of marigolds. Two half-eaten petunias, bent double.Narrator:  Faster than a rip of lightning, Aunt Pearl bolted into Liz’s laid-low garden to hug her tight.  Mom and Dean showed up, too.

Liz:  Dean saw my tears and offered me his slightly chewed gum.

Dean:  It’s still sweet.

Narrator:  Mom gave Liz a humongous hug.

Liz: I’d bet my last sour lemon drop Sallie Young hogtied Mr. Goatee and pulled him over here just to cost me my blue ribbon.

Narrator:  At the picnic Liz dragged herself up to take her turn in the skip-stone contest. She skipped the stones, at least she tried to, over Troublesome Creek.

Liz:  Usually, I throw a wicked stone, if I do say so myself.  But today, my heart wasn’t in it. No skip. No prize.

Narrator:  Liz watched James run the half-mile race. James can sure make the dust fly as he picks ’em up and puts ’em down. He won a blue ribbon.

Liz:  (a low yell) WHOOOOOOWEE, James!!!

Narrator:  Maybe it wasn’t Liz’s loudest yell ever, maybe it wasn’t a next-county scream, but it was a pretty darn-good shout for a gal whose garden had been laid low.

Liz:  I was happy for James. Truly.

Narrator: After all the kids gobbled up hotdogs and gingerbread, everyone got a raffle ticket.  Mr. Dobson climbed on the stage to draw numbers from a huge old-time milk jar.

Aunt Pearl:  (loud whisper) That was my jar! Earl Dobson bought it off me in the last yard sale. Remember?

Narrator:  Liz nodded.

Mr. Dobson:  Number fifteen!

Narrator:  Liz checked her ticket. It still said: 86.

Liz:  Carolyn, who I like pretty well, won a doll with a hank of orange yarn hair.  More numbers were called, but me and luck had done parted company while the sun was still too busy coming up to shine my way.

Narrator: Garden judging was up next.

llie:  I’ve won blue ribbons four year’s running for the best flower garden. Liz:  Sallie announced this in case somebody new had moved into our neck of the woods in the last five minutes. Mom:  Next year you’ll win for sure. Dad:  For certain and for sure. Liz:  I swiped her eyes with the back of my hand.  James offered me his blue ribbon he won at the foot race. Narrator: Mr. Dobson fixed two crates on the stage and climbed on ‘em to make himself higher. That was the signal that whatever he had to announce was no-nonsense, just plain serious business. Mr. Dobson:  Our committee judged the gardens yesterday. Best Flower Garden goes to… Liz:  I heard my named called:  Liz Reilly! Mr. Dobson: Liz’s garden was decided the best. And this first-place ribbon belongs to her. Liz:  My feet couldn’t stand still. James:  WHOOODEE!!

Dean:  Yea! Lizzie.  That my sissy!

Narrator:  Liz stumbled up on the stage to get the biggest blue ribbon of all.