Planting a school garden is an engaging and versatile activity for students of all ages. Many schools have green areas where a school or classroom garden can be planted. This is not a small undertaking, but the rewards are high. Many local nurseries, lawn companies, hardware stores, and even parents are helpful resources in starting a school garden.
Students who are actively involved in the planting and maintain of the garden are actively learning many different science topics like plants, weather, soil, and the whole garden ecosystem. Standards connections can also be made to nutrition, measurement, math, social interaction about science, and a love of nature. With its practical nature and application this activity provides special needs students with a great outdoor connection that can be applied to real life.
Gardening & Measurement
After the vegetables have been harvested, students can be involved in cooking a delicious meal using the fresh vegetables. This lesson involving cooking incorporates learning a life skill along with math. One popular garden based recipe is to make a ratatouille. This has been popularized by both the “Series of Unfortunate Events books” and the Disney movie about the cooking rat, Ratatouille. Here is a great kid friendly recipe for ratatouille.
Gardening & Nutrition
Childhood obesity is a concern our country is facing today. Many kids do not understand the computation of calories and how food choices affect your weight and health. Tying in learning about the vegetables of the school garden can be a meaningful hands-on way for students to learn about healthy eating. Here are some lesson ideas to incorporate learning about fruits and vegetables in the classroom.
Other Great Gardening Ideas
One great twist that my school has added to the school garden this year is to make it a living and learning garden. This is a year-round garden that involves plants, vegetables, and fruits. As the seasons change, so do the plants. Even schools located in very cold climates can use potted evergreens and plants with berries to attract wildlife and it will serve as a visual garden for the winter. An outdoor classroom is also being constructed at my school with a blackboard wall and outdoor seating for students to not only learn about the garden, but to learn in the garden.
Resources for Starting a Classroom Garden
Kids Gardening is a non-profit organization that provides online information about grants, fundraising, curriculum, and a how-to guide to getting started with planting a classroom garden. They also have a specific section that provides tips for gardening with students who have special needs.
School Garden Wizard is a website to help teachers from the beginning planning stages of creating a school garden. Information is provided on getting administrators on board, planning, creating, learning, and keeping the garden growing throughout the school year. This site is very informative and easy to follow.
BBC Kids Gardening is a great resource including information about plants, seeds, gardening facts, and activities. This is a very kid friendly site that explains gardening in kid friendly terms.
Do you have a school garden? Share your experiences by commenting below.
Article By Laura Ketcham
Picture By Vasenka