The garden provides young people with the valuable opportunity to learn through direct observation, exploration, and experimentation. We optimize the learning power of the garden when our lesson plans and activities support students in exploring and experiencing the garden classroom through their direct experiences.
Here at The Learning Tree we LOVE our gardens and creating lesson plans to get the children involved and exploring in the gardens. We wanted to share with you three tips on how to get your children involved in the garden with you at home!
Make it hands on:
Many children are motivated to learn about the world around them through first-hand experience. Sometimes, the best education we can deliver is accomplished simply by providing our students with the space and support to learn through their own exploration of outdoor learning environments. research indicates that hands-on learning experiences help children to develop enduring bonds with nature that support an ethic of environmental stewardship and leadership later in life. By emphasizing hands-on, immersive, project-based learning in the garden, you will make the most of your dynamic outdoor learning environment.
Engage the Senses:
Sensory experiences in the garden create rich memories that can support a lifelong affection for good food and time spent in nature. Gardens are incredible places to develop sensory awareness—whether it is the feeling of gritty, sun-warmed soil on your outstretched hands, the sweet aroma of freshly harvested fennel, the graceful beauty of a Red-tailed Hawk circling overhead, the sweet burst of flavor from a Sun Gold tomato just plucked from the vine, or the sound of wind moving through tall grass. It is through these impactful sensory experiences that children will deepen their connection to their garden and to nature and food.
Cultivate a sense of place:
Cultivating a sense of place is a key—and sometimes underestimated— component of a successful garden-based education program. As educators, we can become so preoccupied by lesson plans, planned activities and other programming that we lose sight of the essential relationship to be cultivated between our students and the garden itself. The emotional bond that young people form with the garden and the garden community will provide fertile ground for deep learning and connection. If you can help your students feel that the garden is their garden, their place, your program will truly thrive. As empowered caretakers of the garden, children gain a sense of place as well as a sense of purpose as they grow food throughout the season.