Curriculum Ideas

Curriculum Ideas for the Garden!

Just getting a change in scenery can stimulate interest for students in subjects they don’t enjoy as much. Use the garden as a hands-on place where the student’s excitement can be rekindled for learning reading, writing, math, science or social studies.

Garden vocabulary

* As you choose to do a project in the garden, engage the children in spelling out new words that they hear others using.
* Encourage students to read the garden signs and seed packets.
* As a class, offer to make signs for the garden. Research the topic (e.g. compost) and then create a sign. The garden coordinator can help you make the sign more permanent.
* Assist the garden coordinator in making sure Spanish vocabulary is in the garden.

Writing
* Poetry can be inspirational. Ask your students to write poetry while in the garden.
* Have each student find something in the garden they want to learn more about (plant, insect, bird, vegetable). Use this a basis for a book report or research for homework.

Math
*Adding, counting, multiplying, measuring and estimated are all possible in the garden. Measure rainfall or change in plant height, determine area of growing areas, measure the circumference of a pumpkin, estimate the number of flowers in a bed,

Science
* Show real plants when teaching the parts of a plant.
* Plant seeds and determine what is needed for plant to grow.
* Insects and bugs! Need I say more? We have a worm bin for compost!

Social Science and History
* Learn about Native Americans, while enjoying the 3 Sisters Garden
* What is farming, agriculture and where does our food come from?
* Learn about nutrition while making fresh salsa, eating raw peas, or making pesto!

Lesson Plans
Many websites have lesson plans and some states are developing Farm to School Programs which can be a great help. 4-H is a great resource along with the County Extension Office. See links in the curriculum links section.

2 responses to “Curriculum Ideas

  1. HI,

    We just started a garden this spring, and I am looking for any ideas, books, sites, etc. that would be beneficial to making our garden successful. We are a small school (275 kids K-12). I am not sure what direction our outdoor garden program will take. I’m in the idea stage. We are the only school locally without an FFA. We live in a rural area, but our community is a tourist town on Lake Huron. Not many farming families in our district. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!
    I did start a worm bin in my classroom this spring.

    • Thanks for contacting us! Hopefully you saw some of the links on this website. A great resource for us has been 4-H. I know that varies from state to state. We happen to be a 4-H Wildlife School and so can get access to some 4-H support but really any club can sign up to be a 4-H club from what I understand. They have a Horticulture/Gardening Guide (which I believe was recently updated) which could be given out as a workbook for students to work through or could be just an idea guide for the teachers. I borrowed these for free from our local county extension office. There is also a Junior Master Gardener Program which I have thought I might try with older kids which also has a great workbook that leaders could use as an idea guide.

      I know others out there have some good ideas, too, but here are a few ideas we have done in our after school garden club through the local Boys and Girls Club Program:
      – Making Salsa – everything is in the garden… its fun to plant a “salsa Garden”… just need to buy the chips
      – Digging Potatoes – will plan to make French Fries (hopefully baked or shallow fried) and talk about healthy eating : )
      – Learning the Rain Cycle – Have them draw pieces of the cycle (evaporation, precipitation, etc) along with clouds, rain, lakes, etc and then put it all together into a poster.
      – Planting Garlic/Onions/Cover Crops for winter gardening (in our climate) to explain that different plants need different temperatures and also how to restore your soil with growing legumes and plants to prevent leaching in our heavy winter rains.
      – Learning gardens need signage to help others learn and so making permanent signs can help student with their writing skills and then when posted in the garden can help others to practice reading.

      There are many more ideas… Most important is to learn about experiential learning because the outdoor classroom is the perfect place for it. Do a pre-test before the kids even get into the garden and then test them later. They absorb so much info just by experiencing the garden. Of course the worm bin is the main attraction along with the raspberries and peas when they are in season. FYI – 4-H can be a resource for experiential learning.

      Good luck with your garden and please send us an update!

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