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School Garden Activities and Education

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A carrot taste test from the Auburn garden

Here are some resources that can help you get your school garden started and can provide new ideas for school garden activites and education opportunities.  Got some great materials you love?  Please share them with us at

K-12 School Garden Curriculum and Resources:

Poster for Dry Bean School Garden Education

Dry Bean School Garden Education
A WSU Research and Extension team in Mt. Vernon, WA created this new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-based curriculum for 4th graders that follow the Next Generation Science Standards. Lessons include planting, harvesting, and threshing dry beans in the school garden as well as hands-on activities with beans in the classroom. This curriculum will work well for any pulse crop that is to be planted in your school garden.
What is a Pulse?
Pulse crops are in the legume family, Fabaceae, and consist of plants that fix (absorb) atmospheric nitrogen through roots in the soil, are high in protein, and bear seeds in pods. Pulses include dry beans, dry peas, garbanzos (chickpeas), and lentils. The name pulse comes from the Latin word, pulse, meaning a thick soup.

Clean: Gardening for Sustainability is the second edition of Slow Food's school garden curriculum. The multidisciplinary lessons target a range of ages, from Kindergarten through high school. Educators can use a school garden or cooking program to teach biology, chemistry, social studies, language arts, and geography. Both Clean and the first volume, Good: Enjoying the Pleasures of Healthy and Delicious Food, are designed to exemplify the Slow Food values of diversity, respect, individual preference and pleasure. Lessons are learner-driven, giving space for inquiry, trial and error, and personal expression. The lessons stimulate curiosity, train intuition and develop critical thinking in order to promote lasting change.

School Garden Project of Lane County (OR): We know that there is a lot more to growing a garden than planting seeds. That's why School Garden Project has compiled a list of resources including funding opportunities, printable materials, School Garden Project created handbooks and curriculum all in one place! Our educational materials can be used for specific Next Gen Science Standards-aligned School Garden Project lessons or for other activities created by the user. Materials are downloadable and free of charge. Materials include resources such as School Garden Project's Harvest Cards, Plant Part Cards, Compost Bingo Sheets and more.

"Dig In!" Standards-Based Nutriton Education from the Ground Up by USDA FNS Team Nutrition [external link]: Ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables. "Dig In!" includes a teacher's guide, gardening guide, at-home parent booklet, posters, and student handouts, all ready-to-use and downloadable in PDFs. 

The California School Garden Network [external link]
The California School Garden Network provides many resources to help make your school garden successful. It offers information about academic, nutrition, stewardship and community that could guide you through the whole cycle from planning and planting to harvest and reinvesting.

Eat Smart... It's In The Garden TOOLKIT [external link]
South Carolina's Department of Agriculture developed this toolkit in partnership with Eat Smart Move More SC, [external link] a regional nonprofit promoting healthy eating and active living as the pillars of healthy lifestyles in healthy communities.  The toolkit walks through garden planning and resource management; what, when and how ideas; student and community involvement; long-term sustainability; plus many other narratives and links to resources.

Food$ense CHANGE Curriculum [external link]
Created by WSU King County Extension, FoodSense CHANGE curriculum integrates nutrition education with reading, writing, math and science studies, while providing hands-on learning in cooking and gardening for elementary aged children. CHANGE lessons are aligned to the Washington Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR's) and Grade Level Expectations (GLE's). For Grades 1-5.

 Garden Based Education [external link]
Garden Based Education is a website dedicated to furthering the learning potential of children through school gardens. They have information for educators, parents and students. The site has great information on how gardens support better learning by engaging different learning styles.

There's a School Garden Wizard! [external link]
The School Garden Wizard supports your vision of a school garden with the necessary tools to make it a success. There are steps for building a team, designing, getting funds and supplies, learning the basics, planting, activities, resources, teaching and sustaining your garden. Plus lots of photos and wonderful ideas. 

The People's Garden Garden-Based Curricula Database [external link] This database has Garden-Based Curriculum for all grades levels (Pre K - 12) and many subjects that you can search by grade level and subject categories, and using key words. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack began The People's Garden Initiative started in 2009 as an effort to challenge USDA employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country.

Minnesota School Gardens: A Guide to Gardening and Plant Science by Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom [external link] In addition to instructions for establishing and maintaining a school garden in Minnesota, this guide contains 31 plant–science based lessons that assist in embedding its content into the classroom. All lessons are correlated to core curriculum concepts and Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in science, social studies, language arts, math and nutrition.

Childcare/Preschool School Garden Curriculum and Resources:

Let's Get Growing In Containers! by Seattle Tilth [external link] This school garden guide serves as an excellent resource for providers looking to start a school garden curriculum in Washington. It includes  basic principles and techniques for gardening with children, ideas to connect the garden with classroom learning, and information on cooking with garden produce. Lists and charts identify what plants to grown when by Washington region. This guide also includes information on growing container gardens and indoor gardens.

Grow It! Try It! Like It! by USDA Food and Nutrition Service [external link] This garden-themed nutrition education kit for childcare center staff includes planting activities, hands on activities, and nutrition education activities that introduce My Plate. Parent/child activities and family sized recipes can be used for home learning.

Early Sprouts [external link] Provides a preschool gardening and nutrition curriculum and an online training for educators.

Our First Harvest by City Blossoms [external link] Includes a bilingual early childhood garden-based curriculum with 30 lesson plans, tips, and resources available for purchase.

Southern California Preschool Garden Primer [external link] This guide includes necessary information for starting a school garden as well as garden activities and recipes.

Last Updated: 3/6/2017