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Garden Themes for Kids

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A theme can be a great way to tie a garden together, and add provide inspiration for students and teachers alike. 

   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


 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


 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

 International Themes for Gardens:

African Garden
-Create a garden using plants that are native to or frequently used in African countries like okra, greens, peppers, yams, cassava, and beans. 
-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

Asian Garden
-Create a garden using plants that are native to or used frequently in  Asia like bok choi, cabbage, bitter melon, soy beans (but remember no bamboo! it will take over your garden!)
-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

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

-Using a map, show children where the Latin countries are located and tie geography to vegetation, culture, and food

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

 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

 Literacy/Reading Garden 

  • incorporate 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”


 Nutrition Garden 

  • Research proper nutrition guidelines; talk about how fruits and veggies fit in
  • 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


 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


 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
  • 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


 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