Considering all Five Senses in the Children's GardenFrom Farm to School Network: Recently spotted this list of tips for creating accessible school gardens and garden activities on the National Gardening Association’s resource website, KidsGardening.org.
Consider all Five Senses in Planning a Learning Garden:
Tasty garden treats and visual beauty are top factors when picking out plants for any garden. But more of our senses can be engaged! Activate students’ sense of smell by planting edible flowers and highly fragrant herbs. Want students to experience the garden through touch?
Incorporate a variety of plant textures – smooth, hairy, delicate, woody. And, don’t forget sounds! Add a wind chime, water feature or feeder to attract singing birds.
Adapt garden tools
Be intentional in making a variety of garden tools available for all body types and ability levels so that every student can contribute and learn in your school’s garden. Have tools of different lengths and sizes, of varying weights, and kneeling pads stocked in your shed. KidsGardening.org recommends having Velcro straps handy to secure tools to students’ arms, which can help distribute the weight and steady tools in their hands.
For some students, reaching up may be easier than stretching out. There are lots of designs for vertical gardens that make the most of your available square footage on the ground and may be easier for some students to reach than traditional garden beds. Try vertical trellises for vining plants like cucumbers and squash, or plant a wall of leafy greens out of discarded wooden pallets.
To learn more about starting and maintaining school gardens or incorporating school gardens into the classroom with lesson plans, check out the great resources available at SlowFood USA and The Edible Schoolyard Project.
Heading Back to School?
Bring the garden into the classroom by connecting science with great children’s literature. Books in Bloom invites children to learn about science while experiencing a great story. Suitable for grades PreK-5, each chapter features a popular children's book that's perfect for families, classrooms, after-school programs, anyone who gardens with children. Compact lesson ideas, hands-on activities, and full lesson plans are included, along with reference icons that clearly identify appropriate grade levels, related titles for alternative reading levels, and connections to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
Enjoy these last weeks of summertime sun and fun -- but remember to start planning ahead for an exciting new season of learning that will strengthen your students' skills and enhance their connection to the natural world!