Welcome to my Spring Series called “Bringing Spring into your Homeschool”. Today’s post is by Sharla about ways to incorporate gardening into your homeschool. Check out her bio below and enjoy reading! Also make sure to check out other posts in this series and guest author bios by clicking on “Bringing Spring into your Homeschool” under Blog in the menu.
20 Ways to Teach Homeschooling in the Garden!
Written by Sharla Fossen | May 4, 2018
Hi everyone! I’m Sharla Fossen from Minnesota Country Girl. I’m a single mom, blogger, homesteader, homeschool mom, and avid gardener. My blog goals are to educate the public on products that can make our reader’s lives easier. Whether it’s a new homeschooling product that makes learning easier for kids or products that make gardening easier on the gardener. I also educate my readers with how to tutorials and articles. I hope to inspire homeschoolers & homesteaders to become self-sufficient in life and in the homeschool. My guest post is “20 Ways to Teach Homeschool in the Garden.” It will cover all the homeschooling subjects you can teach through gardening and activities you can do for each subject.
It’s that time of year again and I am so EXCITED to get out in the garden, soak up the sun, and get my hands dirty! It’s the perfect time to incorporate gardening into your homeschool lesson plans. Whether you’re teaching math, science, your core classes, or just some basic life skills lessons, you’re definitely in the right place! This list of 20 ways to teach homeschooling in the garden is PACKED with fun-filled homeschool lessons, activities, ideas and learning resources to fill or supplement your curriculum! Without further ado, grab a coffee or tea and get inspired to spring the kiddos into gardening action!
1. Planning & Organization Skills
Gardening takes plenty of planning and organization skills. If you’re planning on building or starting a vegetable garden, there are many things to consider. What vegetables you want to plant, where to plant them, when to plant them, coming up with a garden layout that incorporates companion planting all take a great deal of planning and organization skills.
Activities: Do a little planning project or involve your kiddos when you’re planning the garden. Teach them about what plants you can plant together and which ones have to be separated (companion planting). Let them help decide which vegetables or flowers to plant. You can also work on this FREE Growing Garden Companions lesson plan! Get this Kids DIY Garden Starter Growing Kit and teach the kiddos how to start a garden! Beanpost Farmstead has a tutorial for a Kids Garden Planner that introduces kids to planning on scale as well as considering space requirements.
2. Instills Responsibility
Responsibility is one thing we try to engrain in our children. To show them how to take care of themselves and their things. A garden needs to be watered and weeded. It needs a little nurturing at times, all of which takes responsibility. We can instill responsibility in our kids through showing them how to garden.
Activities: Start a garden chore chart for them to complete. You can add tasks like watering the garden, pulling some weeds, thinning out carrots (if they’re old enough), and so on.
3. Builds Patience
Gardening teaches us patience in almost every aspect of the process. From ordering our seeds and waiting for them to come in the mail. Waiting for spring to start to plant the seeds. Waiting for the seeds to sprout. Waiting for the plants to start producing fruits & veggies and the final wait for the plants to be ready for harvesting. Gardening definitely builds a LOT of patience.
Activities: Plant some seeds with your kiddo, show them how to water the seedlings, and let the growing begin. They can see the seeds sprout, seedlings grow into small plants, take part in the transplanting process, and watch the plant grow into full fruit for consuming…or just to see the pretty flowers bloom!
4. Instills a Good Work Ethic
Jenna from the Flip Flop Barnyard explains how gardening instills a good work ethic in your children. “For us, teaching our kids a genuine work ethic is very important. It is not only about teaching them how to do jobs but to do them to the best of their ability. They need to put their hearts into it and take pride in their work. If you go about a task half-heartedly, your end result will not be the quality that it should be. It is also about teaching them to do a job thoroughly, from start to finish. Most jobs begin with careful planning of how you should go about your tasks. Planning the garden out well before it is time to plant is crucial to the outcome of your garden. You have to know what grows best in your zone, when each seed needs to be planted, what plants are compatible with each other, what pests to expect and how to avoid or deal with them, and the best place to source your seeds. It is very important for children to learn that most good things in life are the result of putting forth a valiant effort. Nothing is free in life and if you just hand your children everything they need and want without requiring anything of them they will be ill-equipped for succeeding in life as an adult.”
Activities: When completing activity #2, reward them for their hard-earned work. Explain to them the importance of having a good work ethic, work hard-play hard, and taking pride in doing a job well done. Allow them to eat some of the veggies when they’re done with the tasks so they can reap the benefits of their hard work!
5. Environmental Awareness
Whether we realize it or not, gardening is being environmentally friendly. The more plants you grow, the more carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere, providing the much needed fresh air for us to breath in and to reduce the effects of climate change. Speaking of climate change, it definitely impacts gardeners in which we need to know and be prepared for the weather changes. It important to know how to protect your plants, know when to plant them and so on.
Activities: Work on this rain garden lesson with your kiddo! It has a full FREE downloadable lesson plan on collecting rainwater for your garden! Or complete this FREE Reducing, Reusing and Recycling in the Garden activity! Make a difference by educating your children on how much of a difference planting a tree makes. Get a tree from the Arbor Day Foundation, show them how to plant it, and watch it grow!
6. Generates Mindfulness
A Woman’s Health describes seven ways gardening teaches us mindfulness. This is an excellent article in which I couldn’t have said it better myself. Gardening genuinely shows us how to be mindful.
Activities: Go over the seven ways gardening teaches mindfulness with your children. Explain the impact on how gardening makes you feel and the beauty it provides.
7. Teaches Microbiology
Microorganisms are algae, bacteria, and funguses. There are bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae that’s hidden in your garden soil extremely beneficial for added health benefits. Microbiology is the study of these microorganisms and how to reduce infections and learn how to keep a clean healthy food supply. Sometimes you get some different funguses and diseases in your garden and you need to do some research on how to get rid of it. That in itself is an act of microbiology.
Activities: Go through the slideshow of funguses and diseases (Click on the picture to view the next one). Talk about the different types funguses in the garden so your kiddos know what to look for. If they find any of them in your garden, have them look up the various ways to fix the issue (Pinterest is great for this)!
8. Teaches Zoology
Wikipedia describes, “Zoology or animal biology as the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems.” You have to be a bit of a zoologist to know what animals are beneficial to your garden and which ones can destroy it. It’s important to know the difference and maximize the growth of your garden to keep the good ones and deter the bad ones.
Activities: Do the “How to Grow A Butterfly” zoology project! Watch a butterfly evolve from a caterpillar to butterfly! I collect monarch butterfly caterpillars with my family every year and watch them grow so keep an eye out on my future articles on collecting them and watching them grow! To go along with this project, you can also do this FREE Plant a Butterfly Garden lesson! You can order your own butterfly kit HERE! Subscribe to Zoobooks and get tons of information on your kiddo’s favorite animals!
9. Teaches Entomology
There are a lot of bugs that come into your garden. It is beneficial to study entomology at least a little bit so you know which bugs are bad for your garden and which ones are worth keeping. For instance ladybugs eat some of the most bad aphids (bug eggs) that you don’t want in your garden. I actually ordered some ladybugs online last summer to eat the aphids that were killing my plumbs over the last couple of years. There’s also a small bug called a ground beetle that loves to eat slugs and snails. I tell you I wish I had some of these in my garden last year! I had slugs eating up my potatoes big time. All in all, it’s good to know your bugs in the garden!
Activities: Check out these cool insect notebook pages! There’s 18 different insects your children can write about! Each page allows them to categorize them in what habitat they live in, their size, what food they eat, and their behavior & characteristics. Research each one and see how they can benefit (or be an nuisance) to your garden!
10. Teaches Economics
Think Garden explains how produce yields a lot of money in grocery stores. Economics is connected when you produce, consume, & trade veggies. When you buy from the grocery store, farmers market or grow your own fruits & veggies, your choice affects supply & demand. If you’re consuming more or fewer fruits and vegetables, the stores and farmers markets need to tailor their inventory to the consumer’s needs. The same goes for your garden. If you plan on using more vegetables throughout the year, you need to plant more seeds to ensure you have enough for the year.
Activities: Check out this FREE garden activity and go on a “field trip” to your local farmers market!
11. Teaches Art
I believe gardening is truly an expression of art. Whether you’re working in and growing a flower, vegetable or another kind of garden, you’re truly expressing yourself in a unique way! The layout and how you plan your veggies or flowers, the colors of flowers and plants in your garden, even down to the herbs that provide great aromas to lighten your senses, gardening is a beautiful, authentic work of art!
Activities: There are so many great activities to involve art in your garden! Make a garden Art Box! Make Plant People! Do a Pressed Flowers and Leaves project! Build a Terrarium! Or check out this cool Art in the Garden Lesson Plan! The possibilities are endless!
12. Teaches Biology
Biology. The study of living organisms. Most gardeners don’t realize when you garden, you’re actually studying biology. Gardening is truly the definition of biology. You’re studying not only how vegetables grow, but also every living organism within the soil.
Activities: Complete this FREE Plant-Soil Relationship lesson plan! Or you can make a Worm Composting Bin for the boys & girls who like to get their hands dirty! Get this Growing Science Experiment to do at home!
13. Teaches Ecology
When you’re gardening, you’re actually designing and building a whole new ecosystem filled with plants, soil or compost and much more. The Yale Teacher’s Institute explains “Ecosystems are made up of three components: organisms, environmental factors, and ecological processes. In other words, it comprises organisms, species, populations and communities, soil, climate and other physical factors and processes such as energy flow, nutrient cycle, water flow, freezing, and thawing.” Everything you do when it comes to gardening is an ecological process. You won’t water your garden on a day its supposed to rain. You learn which kinds of bugs, flowers or plants that are beneficial or bad for the growth of other plants and organisms in your garden. Everything you plant and grow has an ecological process.
Activities: Plan a Pollinator Garden! You could also start this FREE Bulb Botany lesson plan and do this Forcing Spring-Blooming Bulbs activity! Or check out this fun Scavenger Hunt in the Garden activity! Or this Spring Scavenger Hunt! Get the “For the Birds” box from Groovy Lab in a Box and you will learn about the types of birds in your local area, their drinking and feeding habits, and what types of bird feeder structures they are most delighted to use while they enjoy their Food, Glorious Food!
14. Teaches Chemistry
Composting is not required when gardening but it is definitely one thing that flourishes a garden with rich soil. The soil in your garden is comprised of a certain carbon-nitrogen ratio of which breaks down your composting material that makes the organic soil. Who knew gardening could teach us so much about our environment.
15. Generates Good Nutrition & Healthy Eating Habits
Gardening is one thing that provides the freshest & healthiest form of fruits and vegetables. And it comes straight from your backyard. I love to snack on my veggies while I’m gardening, which provides a means of eating a healthy snack. I make most of my side dishes straight from my garden as well. Veggies provide your body with so many vitamins and nutrients. This definitely teaches your family, especially kids, healthy eating habits!
Activities: Complete these cool (and FREE) nutrition lesson plans: Exploring Food Preservation, Grow Your Own Herbal Tea, Eat a Rainbow and Lettuce Be Healthy! Sign up for Kids Cook Real Food for lesson plans and everything necessary to teach your kiddos how to cook healthy meals!
16. Teaches Meteorology & Climatology
When gardening, you definitely want to find out what USDA Plant Hardiness Zone you’re in. This tells you what vegetables will thrive in your particular location. Gardening teaches meteorology & climatology through trial and error so to say. You don’t want to plant your seeds if you know there’s going to be a big storm. Water is great for growing vegetables. Too much rain pouring can run your seeds and shift them to a new location making your rows uneven, especially if your garden is on a slop. At the same token, when my plants are already growing from seed and there’s a big lighting rainstorm, my plants always hit a really big growth spurt (as long as the winds aren’t too bad). The weather and climate definitely play a huge role in the growth…or death of your garden.
Activities: Check out this FREE lesson plan on Weather-Tracking Tools!
17. Teaches Mathematics
The California Department of Education perfectly emphasizes how students can learn through mathematics: “Mathematics has many practical applications in a school garden. Designing, building, and measuring garden infrastructures, such as garden beds, fences, or tool sheds, are activities that can meet measurement and geometry standards. Standards on measurement, fractions, percentages, and proportions come alive through cooking. Many statistics, data analysis, and probability standards can be reinforced through manipulation of data collected from garden experiments or surveys on food preferences. Investigating mathematical relationships, such as those between various environmental factors and plant growth, provides teachers a means of addressing some of the algebra and function standards. Garden-based problems in statistics, measurement and geometry, and algebra and functions also offer opportunities for teachers to teach and students to apply mathematical reasoning.”
18. Teaches Plant Physiology
Amanda Robb explains plant physiology as, “Plants have many different uses. But how do plants develop from seeds, and how do they grow? This is where plant physiology comes into play. Plant physiology is the study of how different parts of plants function. It includes many aspects of plant life, including nutrition, movement, and growth.”
19. Teaches Botany
Botany, the study of plants to include their physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification, and economic importance. When you’re gardening, you’re definitely teaching yourself botany. How your plants grow in the soil you’ve provided with how much water you provide it and the list goes on. There are many different types of botany. One of which is called forensic botany. You’ve probably seen some form of this watching CSI or forensic files where investigators use soil from someone’s shoes or tires to link a person to a crime scene. I can tell you I do a little forensic botany myself when I discover deer tracks in my garden! Haha!
Activities: Complete these FREE plant science lesson plans and activities: Prehistoric Plants and Make New Plants and Keep the Old. Get the “Greenhouse” Kit from Groovy Lab in a Box and investigate parts of plants and seeds, learn about photosynthesis, the greenhouse effect, the water cycle, build plant pots and even build your own greenhouse!
20. Inspires Writing
Joy at the Beanpost Farmstead uses her kids garden projects as inspiration for writing all summer long~ and well into fall! It is so much easier to write what you know, and if a child has spent sunny days in the warm soil, knows the smell of a tomato plant in the hot sun, has tasted the crisp coolness of a carrot on a fall morning, or has seen a wilted plant perk up almost right before his eyes with a little water; then these are things he KNOWS! There are ideas for fiction all over the garden ecosystem! There are poems to be written, inspired by the beauty there. There are journals of daily observations and activities. There are tidbits of knowledge to be added to photo journals or notebooking pages! Writing about a project they are interested in and intricately involved with is a sure way of building confidence in their ability as well as strengthening their skill painlessly!
Activities: Check out this neat Growing Poems lesson plan (FREE)! You could also just have your child write about their day in the garden or what they learned from gardening that day…or even have them write about all of these fun-filled activities they’ve completed! Let your child have their own garden for more inspiration! Use it as a school project. Have them keep a journal to record all of their activities, observations of all the garden is doing and so on.
A “My Garden Project” notebook is the perfect place to house all of the creative and scientific writing your child is doing! Including pictures, growth rates, observations, plant facts, etc, etc. We use simple, clear cover, three ring binders so that we can customize with our own pictures or artwork! As an extra incentive, for a more in-depth or polished project you can make your own custom, professional quality book with Blurb!
Additional Gardening Resources to Check Out:
Here’s an Article from Rock Your Homeschool on Ideas & Inspiration on How to Use Your Homeschool Bucket List for Spring Fun!
For more FUN gardening activities and lessons, go to www.KidsGardening.Org!
You can also go to Lesson Planet for over 3,700 homeschool lessons and resources related to gardening!
GetEpic! is the new Netflix of books in which they have over 400 books, stories, read-alongs, videos, and audio books just on gardening alone for kids ages 3-14! Can you imagine how many other books they have!?! Check em’ out! $7 a month gets you a full subscription for the kiddos to read as many books as they like! They even have quizzes for the books the kiddos read (or you can make your own!)
Order your garden seeds from SeedsNow and get a FREE 175-page Organic Gardening eBOOK with any purchase! This 175 page eBook is full of easy-to-understand information that will walk you through the entire process — step-by-step — of growing your entire garden from just a single seed, organically!
So there you have it! A giant fun-filled list of resources, tips, ideas, and lesson plans to incorporate gardening into your homeschool!
What did you think about this article? Was it helpful? Have you tried any of the resources? Drop a comment below and tell me your thoughts!
Your Minnesota Country Girl, Sharla
Check out more of Sharla’s most popular posts below.
Follow Me On
Recent and Related Posts
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on Instagram
Products I Love
How do you incorporate gardening into your homeschool? Share in the comments below!