ABC Garden
  • Have students plant an alphabet garden that includes one plant whose name begins with each letter of the alphabet. They make and decorate alphabet letters to put in the garden; see Plant Alphabet

African-American Garden
  • Create a garden using plants that are native to or frequently used in African countries or that were used in America by African slaves
  • Learn to cook traditional African foods and have the students taste the products
  • Using a map, show children where Africa is located and tie geography to vegetation, culture, and food
  • Students explore the diversity of ecosystems that exist in Africa and create small garden plots to represent each

American History Garden
  • Create a garden using plants that were once used for cloth or dyes (cotton, flax, beets, indigo, etc.)
  • Using plants from the garden, learn how to dye cloth
  • Use or learn about plants that were discovered by Lewis and Clark
  • Learn about plants that are native to North America or your school’s state
  • Plant a garden using heirloom vegetables
  • Plant a Kitchen Garden with heirloom vegetables, herbs, and flowers used by Colonial Americans for food, medicine, fragrance, and economic value
  • Plant a grain garden with cereal crops that are grown in your region

Art Garden
  • Grow plants that can be used for art projects (i.e., dried flowers, flowers for pressing, interesting seed pods, and gourds)
  • Sell items made with garden products to raise money for the next garden season
  • Create a garden mosaic of student designs on a garden wall (or cement bird bath)
  • Have students take sketch books out in the garden and draw plants and bug life

Asian-American Garden
  • Create a garden using plants that are native to or used frequently in Asia
  • Learn to cook typical Asian foods and have the students taste the products
  • Have students write and share Haiku poems to explore Japan
  • Using a map or globe have students research what countries make up Asia and connect geography to vegetation, culture, and food
  • As an indoor winter project, have students create miniature bonsai or ikebana flower arrangements and research the symbolism in each

Butterfly Garden
  • Have students research plants that attract butterflies
  • Discuss the butterfly lifecycle and the role of pollinators
  • Read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle (ISBN# 0399226907)
  • Raise and observe developing butterflies (we use products from Insect Lore)
  • Create butterfly journals to record development of classroom butterflies
  • Check out the North American Butterfly Association or Project Monarch Watch

Herb Garden
  • Learn how to make herbal teas from plants in the school garden
  • Discuss cultural uses of herbs through history
  • Discuss the difference between herbal tea and black tea
  • Make herbal vinegars, oils, or sachets for Mother’s Day gifts
  • Dry herbs from the school garden and sell at Parent Night to raise money for next year’s garden materials
  • Harvest fresh herbs to chop and mix with cream cheese to serve for a class or school event

International Garden
  • Have students research a particular part of the world or specific country and choose plants that are representative of that region to grow in your garden
  • Have students observe, make predictions, and then research to determine how the plants are specially-adapted to their native region
  • Find out your students’ cultural background or ethnicities and use plants from students’ native countries
  • Incorporate student art that reflects a particular country or region of the world
  • Use plants that are native to a country or region that you are teaching concurrently in a social studies unit
  • Create a “school garden recipe book” with recipes that use items from the school garden and that students have collected from their native countries

Jack and the Bean Stalk Garden
  • Create a bean teepee in your garden
  • Plant “Giant”-type sunflowers
  • Read “Jack and the Bean Stalk” in the garden (ISBN to come)
  • Dissect a bean seed. Try using Chicago Botanic Garden’s Botany Basics: Plant Parts Facilitator Guide
  • Make an Illinois Ag in the Classroom Bean Book as you dissect your seeds
  • Read “Bean and Plant” by Christine Back & Barrie Watts (ISBN 0-382-24014-6)
  • Make a bean seed necklace

Kinder Garden
  • Plant an ABC Garden using plants that start with each letter of alphabet; see Plant Alphabet
  • Build raised beds in various geometrical shapes
  • Plant a rainbow garden; see Rainbow Colors for Health to use flower color to plant a “rainbow”
  • Use plants will large seeds that are easy for little fingers to handle, such as sunflowers, cucumbers, and squash or gourds
  • Sunflowers and gourds grow very quickly—use them as the basis for a “measuring garden” where young ones learning to measure can practice measuring a couple of times each week

Kitchen Garden
  • Create an edible garden using plants that the children like to eat or have never tried before
  • Create a garden with vegetables for each different plant part—roots, stems, flowers, fruits, and seeds and learn about plant parts using foods we eat. Try using Chicago Botanic Garden’s Botany Basics: Kitchen Botany Facilitator Guide
  • Grow a salad garden that will be ready to harvest before school is out for the summer
  • Plant a fruit and veggie garden featuring “vegetables” such as lettuce, carrots, and spinach as well as “fruits” (anything with a seed) such as squash, cucumbers, or eggplant

Latin-American Garden
  • Create a garden using plants that are native to or used frequently in Latin countries, such as tomatoes, tomatilloes, cilantro, and peppers
  • Learn to cook typical Latin foods and have the students taste the products
  • Learn to make tortillas in a baggie; see instructions
  • Using a map, show children where the Latin countries are located and tie geography to vegetation, culture, and food

Literacy/Reading Garden
(garden incorporating a cozy nook for a class to sit and read)
  • Feature garden story books to be read in the garden each week; see our Top 10 Books
  • Use plants found in children’s literature such as “Peter Rabbit,” “The Ugly Vegetables,” or “Growing Vegetable Soup”
  • Create a reading circle in the garden
  • Have students construct nature journals to record garden development and collect seeds and pressed flowers
  • Have students write stories or poems about gardening or plants in the school garden
  • Read seed packets
  • Create a school garden newsletter to share with parents and the community
  • Have children write stories about the garden in books that they make
  • Use the garden as the context for new vocabulary words or for writing from different perspectives (their own, a bird flying overhead, a beetle on a leaf, a worm underground, etc.)

Math Garden
  • Create a garden to include raised beds of various geometric shapes
  • Have the children estimate number of seeds they will need in a row based on row length and seed spacing information on seed packet
  • Do the Percent Seed Germination Activity in the classroom; see instructions
  • Have children chart seedling growth
  • Create a square-foot garden

Maze Garden
  • Create a maze in your garden using grasses, a hedge, or corn plants
  • Include something fun like a reading area in the middle of your maze
  • Use maize (corn) in your maze for a “play on words”

Native-American Garden/Colonial Garden
  • Learn about the Three Sisters Garden tradition
  • Create a garden using plants that are native to America or plants traditionally used by Native Americans
  • Make corn seed necklaces; see instructions
  • Learn about plants used for dyes
  • Discuss medicinal plants; learn how Native Americans and Colonial settlers used plants as medicine
  • Read “Corn is Maize” by Aliki (ISBN 0-06-445026-0) to learn about the history of corn

Nutrition Garden
  • Do the Plant Part Pounding Activity as a basis for nutrition study; see instructions
  • Plant fruits and vegetables in different sections that represent a wide range of vitamins (i.e., The Vitamin C section, Vitamin A section, etc.)
  • Plant plants of every color of a healthy diet; see Rainbow Colors for Health

Outer Space Garden
  • Create a garden using “outer space” sounding plants such as Moon Flower, Moon and Stars’ Watermelon, and Cosmos
  • Learn more about growing plants in outer space

Peter Rabbit Garden
  • Have students read Peter Rabbit and create a garden with plants mentioned in the story (cabbage, carrots, lettuce, etc.)
  • Have students create a Peter Rabbit play to act out in their garden
  • Create a “nest” space in the garden where students can sit and read Peter Rabbit and other books

Pizza Garden
  • Grow a garden that has all the ingredients for pizza: wheat, tomatoes, peppers, oregano, basil, onions, garlic, etc.
  • Learn about the history of pizza
  • Grow mushrooms in your classroom
  • Make a classroom pizza using produce from your garden
  • Use the pizza garden as the basis to launch a study on Old World and New World plants (Did you know that the first “pizzas” were Old World and did not include tomatoes, which are a New World plant?)

Native Plant Garden
  • Research what plants are native to your region
  • Discuss ways in which Native Americans and settlers used plants in your region
  • Learn about endangered native plants in your state or region
  • Read plant folklore stories
  • Hold a “seed-saving” day in the fall; collect seeds and create a seed bank

Salsa Garden
  • Create a garden with all of the plants you might find in salsa (tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers, and garlic)
  • Have students create a salsa recipe to make and share with other classrooms
  • Make salsa to give as gifts or sell at a garden fundraiser

Sensory Garden
  • Use plants you can feel, smell, taste, touch and hear
  • Do a lesson or activity where students can use their five senses
  • Use edible flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, borages, etc.
  • Have students find ways they can use their five senses in the garden and then combine this with activities and lessons in art
  • Have a garden concert using musical instruments made out of garden tools, seedpods, branches, gourds, grass blades, or flower pots
  • Use plants that will have winter interest (especially if you live in a cold climate) such as grasses, shrubs, and trees with colored or exfoliating bark, evergreens, and plants with seed pods that will persist into winter

Shakespeare Garden
(plants from Shakespeare’s classics)
  • Create a garden using plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works
  • Discuss the mythical or medicinal uses of Shakespearean plants
  • Research the meaning or significance of plants or flowers found in Shakespeare’s work

Storybook Garden
  • Have students design a garden with plants found in storybooks
  • Incorporate a Jack and the Beanstalk bean teepee
  • Incorporate a poppy field as found in Wizard of Oz
  • Incorporate a Peter Rabbit section including cabbage, carrots, etc.
  • Have students write their own fairy tale
  • Have students make and write their own books

Tea Garden
  • Create a garden using plants commonly used in herbal teas such as chamomile and mint
  • Learn about the history of teas
  • Learn about different types of tea ceremonies throughout the world
  • Make herbal mint tea; see instructions
  • Have a classroom tea party
  • Discuss the differences between herbal tea and black tea
  • Read “The Boston Tea Party” by Steven Kroll (ISBN 0-8234-1557-0) and grow an “alternative tea plant” used by early American Colonials in place of expensive, highly-taxed true tea

Tops and Bottoms Garden
  • Read “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens (ISBN#0-15-292851-0)
  • Have students design a classroom garden using plants in “Tops and Bottoms” (above book about plants that grow above and below ground)

Vegetable Snack Garden
  • Encourage children to grow fruits and vegetables that they would like to taste, favorites as well as new items
  • Incorporate nutrition lessons
  • Grow a Pizza Garden that includes plant ingredients on a pizza
  • Grow a Salsa Garden that includes plant ingredients found in salsa
  • Have students keep a food journal to record what plants they eat
  • Build and observe a compost bin in your school garden
  • Discuss when to plant/harvest vegetables in the garden
  • Learn about plant life cycles
  • Read “The Reason for a Flower” by Ruth Heller (ISBN# 0-448-41091-5)

Wildlife Garden
  • Incorporate a tree with berries for the birds in your garden
  • Use tall grasses for cover for small animals such as rabbits
  • Install a birdbath or birdfeeder outside a classroom window
  • Have your students research plants and flowers that specifically attract hummingbirds, butterflies, or moths
  • In winter months, create a variety of bird snacks to hang in the garden as a cold-season snack
  • Use plants with seed heads that will naturally provide snacks for birds, such as sunflowers and millet