Gardenschooling (A Month Long Unit Study)
We have concluded yet another wonderful month-long unit study; this time all about GARDENS!
I’m excited to share our resources, activities, and handicrafts we used to make this a super special month! This is something we all participated in as a family, from start to finish, and it has been wonderful learning and growing together.
We used the Peaceful Press Garden Guide as our main spine in addition to From Seed to Table by Creative and Growing Kids and the Garden Unit Study (upper and lower elementary) as well as freebies from my shop! These lesson plans are gentle yet thorough and allow enough flexibility to move at your own pace. The Peaceful Press guide includes handicrafts and manipulatives for hands-on learning and is truly a peaceful way to engage in topics for both of my children. From Seed to Table focuses more on growing on farming using specific books as a companion to their lessons. All of the books suggested by both educational plans are wonderful and we sprinkled in a few more of our own!
The Book List
As always, we like to incorporate living books, fiction, non-fiction, wordless books, read aloud chapter books, and poetry in our unit studies. The variety in themed material allows for continuity and a well-rounded experience when learning a specific subject.
The Vegetables We Eat – Gail Gibbons
The Fruits We Eat – Gail Gibbons
Stories From Bug Garden – Lisa Moser and Gwen Millward
From Seed To Plant – Gail Gibbons
Planting the Wild Garden – Kathryn O. Galbraith
Plants In Different Habitats – Bobbie Kalman
Seeds and Trees – Brandon Walden
My First Reference Book About How Things Grow – Usborne Books
Little Gardeners Guide – Niki Horin
Thimbleberry Stories – Cynthia Rylant
We Are The Gardeners – Joanna Gaines
Fox’s Garden – Princesse Camcam
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner
The Imaginary Garden – Andrew Larsen
Eating The Alphabet – Louis Ehlert
A Beetle Is Shy – Dianna Hutts Aston
A Seed Is Sleepy – Dianna Hutts Aston
The Vegetable Alphabet Book – Jerry Pallotta
The Flower Alphabet Book – Jerry Pallotta
Wildflowers, Blooms, and Blossoms – Diane Burns
Bees: A Honeyed History – Piotr Socha
Insects That Live Together – Starting Point Library
How Flowers Live – Starting Point Library
The Adventures Of Lily Huckelberry in Scandinavia – Audrey Smit and Jackie Knapp
When I told my husband that we were starting a month-long garden unit study, he was all too excited to help start our raised planters in our backyard. We spent an entire weekend outside as a family cutting and drilling holes in our barrels, raising them on cement blocks, and picking out correct soil and baby plants from our local nursery. We started with 2 raised beds but ended the month with 4! (Gardening is a bit addictive, when we saw the fruits of our labor, we wanted more crops!)
Of course, I wanted the children to see the entire process from start to finish, so our first lesson was about seeds and we germinated 4 different types in our kitchen window. The baby plants we put in our garden were spicy peppers (for my husband), 4 tomato plants, and 4 bush bean plants. Inside, we germinated basil, lavender, green beans, and sunflowers. We did it the old-fashioned way by placing seeds on a wet paper towel, sealing them in a plastic bag, and securing them to the window for heat. Within a few days we had lovely radicles forming and breaking through the seed coat.
Once we planted the seeds and saw the wild success we were having, we scooped more seeds: okra, spinach, and swiss chard, and those are now sprouting nice and strong as well!
This was a perfect hands-on experience to pair with our seed lessons from both curriculums. We journaled the process, created a felt seed diagram, and used our lovely learning cards from Twig & Moth.
Down In The Dirt
Once my children understood the growth process and saw what was happening above ground, we dove deeper to explore our world under the soil. We learned about composting, insects, diseases, and more! This is a perfect opportunity to educate oneself on the layers of the soil and to become acquainted with what type of soil you have in your area! Learning about insects led to discovering all types of pollinators (did you know that even bats and lizards are pollinators?) and completing some animal studies to see the symbiotic relationships in nature.
Exploring Nature With Children
Luckily for us, Wildflower week in the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum lined up with our gardenschooling study, and was the next logical step in our lessons. We now knew a ton about pollinators, now let’s discover what they pollinate! We started a wildflower garden out back as well strictly for our neighborhood pollinators and ordered some caterpillars from Insect Lore. We raised our caterpillars for 2 weeks until they emerged as beautiful Painted Ladies! If you have never raised caterpillars, I highly recommend it! It’s simple to take care of them and a quick process through metamorphosis. The level of enthusiasm in our home was unparalleled; the kids loved checking on our new friends several times a day!
Working with our hands and having the opportunity to create is a magical experience to share with our children. Within a garden theme, the options for crafts are endless! During Rainbow week in the Garden Guide, we combined both Rooted Childhood Collection (butterfly mobile) and the Forest Crafters craft (rainbow branch mobile) from April’s Firefly Nature School eBox subscription to make our own beautiful display!
We also used the DIY Seed Ball Kit from Imagine Childhood to make wildflower seed balls to add to our wildflower garden and The Silvan Reverie’s Wildflower Guide to identify which wildflowers were growing in our yard. And of course, we had to press some flowers for future crafts while we were at it!
We are not officially ‘gameschoolers’, but we love all types of games and play as a family constantly. We incorporated some new games into our garden study that we will enjoy for years to come!
The Garden Game from Imagine Childhood
Photosynthesis from Blue Orange Games
Pick A Flower Matching Game from LindenBee
The Field Trip
I wanted to end our month-long unit study with a bang, something really big and special that the kids would remember forever. Luckily, we are annual passholders to Disney, so we scheduled the Behind The Seeds tour at Epcot. We got to go behind the scenes of the ride Living With The Land to explore the gardens and greenhouses Disney manages. They grow all of their own food that they serve in The Land restaurants. They even supply food for the animals at Animal Kingdom! The Disney gardens were absolutely immaculate and we got the chance to see some super innovative techniques of growing food.
This is a unit study that we will remember forever because it didn’t feel like ‘school’. We read, crafted, got dirty, played games, raised caterpillars, grew vegetables, and went to Disney. This is lifeschooling. This is the perfect blend of learning through life and experiences, which is my main goal in raising and educating my children.
Now, we have 4 raised beds and just want to harvest and eat the lovely food we’ve grown!
If you follow me on Instagram, hop over and check out my Highlights for more photos (and videos) of our field trip and raising caterpillars!