Teaching in the Garden

Kindergarten Unit Summary

Kinder classes will engage in lessons to learn what plants are and what they need to live. We will care for and eat plants in the garden. In the Spring Kinder classes will plant and observe/record popcorn. A class data sheet will be passed on to First grade classes to continue observations and harvest. In the Fall Kinder classes will harvest and observe dry beans using observation and math skills.

Disciplinary Core Idea Kinder:

LS.1.C. Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms - All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow.

First Grade Unit Summary

First grade classes will explore the structure and function of plants by growing and eating them.  In the Fall First grade classes will harvest and eat popcorn that they planted with their Kinder class. They will continue to observe and record the popcorn they planted in Kindergarten on the datasheets passed on from Kinder classes. In the Spring First grade classes will plant pollinator friendly and edible flowers.

Disciplinary Core Idea First Grade:

LS.1.A. Structure and Function - All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water, and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow.

Second Grade Unit Summary

Second grade classes will explore relationships between plants and animals, specifically looking at pollination. In the Fall Second grade classes will observe and harvest the flowers they planted in First grade noting how seeds are developed and the role of pollinators. In the Spring Second grade classes will plant beans and monitor their growth using a class datasheet.

Disciplinary Core Idea Second Grade: LS.2.A. Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems - Plants depend on water and light to grow. Plants depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.

More resources on effective outdoor management:

Observe School Garden Lessons taught by veteran garden instructors

View our Easy "Back Pocket" Activities that all garden teachers should have ready to share. Many of these work well as independent learning garden stations.

Download descriptions of two of our favorite ice breakers, Group Juggle and Lighthouse, from The Growing Classroom

edWeb's Growing School Garden Community Webinar on Outdoor Classroom Management, presented by Life Lab's Education Director Whitney Cohen.

FOSS Science Curriculum and The Boston Schoolyard Alliance teamed up to create Taking FOSS Outdoors Folio, a 28 page guide for teaching science outdoors. Their site also has videos of teachers instructing outdoors.


K-8 Next Generation Science Standards in the Garden

A school garden (however large or small) provides a meaningful context in which students can apply new academic concepts and skills. Whether they are graphing the temperature of their compost pile over time; reading a recipe to make fresh salsa; writing a story from the perspective of an ant; or presenting to a buddy class on the animals that visited their sunflower patch, the opportunities for children to practice traditional academic subjects in the garden are limitless! As students use their newfound math and language skills to measure, calculate, graph, and communicate about things that really matter to them, they deepen their understanding of the subject matter while also rediscovering the joy and fascination that characterizes learning within a meaningful context.