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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 farmtoschool@agr.wa.gov.

K-12 School Garden Curriculum and Resources

Clean: Gardening for Sustainability - Slow Food USA
This multidisciplinary school garden 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.

Curriculum Database - The California School Garden Network (CSGN)
The California School Garden Network provides many resources to help make your school garden successful. The Curriculum Database has free resources for PreK through High School with hundreds of lessons submitted by other educational organizations. CSGN also offers information about academic, nutrition, stewardship and community that could guide you through the whole cycle from planning and planting to harvest and reinvesting.

Curricular Resources - Vermont FEED
Grades K-12
For educators interested in developing more lessons or curriculum units around food, farming, and nutrition, Vermont FEED has a list of recommend links to some excellent examples of Farm to School curriculum from other partners in education. 

Garden Lesson Plans and Activities - WSU Clark County Extension
A collection of lesson plans and activities for garden educators, teachers, parents, youth leaders, home-schoolers, and students/youth developed by WSU Extension Clark County Master Gardeners using state and local science standards.

Resource Library - Edible Schoolyard Project
Free lesson plans and materials created by Edible Schoolyard Project and partners.

K-6 School Garden Curriculum and Resources

Garden-Based Learning Curriculum - Berkely Unified School District
Grades PreK-5
This The curriculum builds upon many years of educating our students in the garden and scales up content across grades and lessons for instructional scaffolding. It is designed as an interactive teaching tool to be co-taught with classroom teachers and garden instructors as leads. Each lesson connects directly to standards: Next Generation Science, Common Core State [CA], Physical Education, and Environmental and Health Education. Our concise and easy to-follow lessons are a packed 45 minutes for preschool through fifth grade. Flexibility is important to us, so some lessons include several activities that teachers can choose from to accommodate their lesson plans.

Science Exploration Units - Life Lab (Santa Cruz, CA)
Grades K-5
Created with lessons from the K-5 Life Lab Science Curriculum and The Growing Classroom, these units have 6 lessons each and are available as a free PDF download or purchased as a set of four from the Life Lab store. Downloadable units include Pondering Plants Science Exploration Unit, Soil Stories Science Exploration Unit, Garden Pollinators Science Exploration Unit, and Garden Habitats Science Exploration Unit.

Growing Healthy Habits - University of Maryland Extension
Grades K-5
Growing Healthy Habits is a garden-based nutrition education curriculum targeting youth audiences. Lessons use gardening as a tool to teach about nutrition, encourage students to consume more fruits and vegetables, and increase physical activity. There are nine units. Each unit contains introductory materials, four lessons and associated handouts. One lesson in each unit includes a healthy recipe demonstration, making use of garden produce when available.

CitySprouts
Grades PreK-7
From planting and harvesting ancient grains to using technology in the school garden, teachers in CitySprouts 24 partner schools in Massachussets show and discuss how their students have learned from garden-based education. Check out the short PowerPoint presentations teachers made on diverse subjects for pre-kindergarten through 7
th grade.

Pulse on Health STEM in the Classroom Curriculum - WSU Extension
Grade 4
Despite being rich in protein, fiber, and phytonutrients, pulse crops remain an underutilized food in typical American diets. To help promote pulse consumption, this STEM-focused curriculum combines exposure to pulses in a school garden setting and in the classroom through nutrition, math and biology education. This garden-based learning curriculum utilizes pedagogy to promote critical thinking and to inspire students. This curriculum meets the new Next Generation Science Standards, Washington State Health Standards, and Common Core Math Standards, thereby meeting needs of teachers and school districts to meet educational standards.

The three-lesson curriculum includes classroom discussion paired with either indoor classroom and outdoor garden learning activities. Math worksheets, observation worksheets and ideas to extend learning using science journal options and curriculum enhancements are included in this easy to use curriculum. Also check out WSU Extension's Dry Bean School Garden Education page for other teaching tools.

Next Generation Science Curriculum - School Garden Project (Lane County, OR)
Grades 2-5
School Garden Project's Science in the Garden Curriculum is a set of 10 lessons with a focus on exploration of life and earth science phenomena. Lessons have been refined by School Garden Project staff through years of teaching grades 2-5 and have been aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Each lesson contains a variety of activities which can be combined and adapted for lessons that range from basic to complex, depending on the needs of the student group. These lessons are designed for use during School Garden Project school day programming with classes of 18-36 students and require the assistance of an additional 1-2 educators. However, many of the activities can be adapted for use by an individual educator or for smaller groups of 6-10 students. School Garden Project offers these lessons as an free resource to the education community

The People's Garden Garden-Based Curriculum - USDA
Grades 2-5
This collection of USDA People's Garden Garden-Based Curriculum hosted by WSU Extension includes 40 lessons aligned with standards from multiple subjects.

The Great Garden Detective - USDA Team Nutrition
Grades 3-4
Discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through a series of investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria, and home. This eleven-lesson curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers.

Nutrition to Grow On - California Department of Education
Grades 4-6
Nine lessons designed to teach children and their families about nutrition by relating each lesson to a garden activity. The curriculum uses the garden to integrate disciplines, including science, mathematics, language arts, history, environmental studies, nutrition, and health, while reinforcing some of the California academic content standards. School gardens are wonderful sources of food and beauty and outlets for physical activity; they can also help students discover fresh food and learn to make healthier food choices. Nutrition to Grow On taps into these instructional gardens to cultivate the students’ talents and skills while enriching their capacities for observation and thinking.

"Dig In!" Standards-Based Nutriton Education from the Ground Up - USDA FNS Team Nutrition
Grades 5-6
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.

Minnesota School Gardens: A Guide to Gardening and Plant Science - Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
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, ECE, Preschool School Garden Curriculum and Resources:

Let's Get Growing In Containers! by Seattle Tilth 
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 
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 
Provides a preschool gardening and nutrition curriculum and an online training for educators.

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

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

Middle & High School Resources

GRuB Manual
The GRuB Manual is a detailed guide to GRuB’s youth employment and education programming. This 200+ page curriculum manual provides a description of the program and curricular structure, the planning and administration required to run it, as well as detailed calendars, workshops, lessons, and forms. Please call or email GRuB to request one.

Junior Master Gardener Program
An international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension system created & managed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Curriculum includes elementary and middle school tracks.

Creating & Sustainaing Your School Garden & Garden Enhanced Nutriton Education - UC Davis
The UC Davis School Gardening Program has developed great resources for adults involved in developing and using school gardens.

Other Resources

Garden Based Education
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.

Last Updated: 1/11/2019