Specific grade level ideas are listed by grade level for integrating language arts curricula in the following publication from Life Lab: Common Core Math and English Language Arts Standards We Can Frequently Reinforce in Gardening, Cooking and Tasting Activities. Click on Common Core Connections.
Many books for children, both fiction and non-fiction can be found in the school library and in the reference section of our website that focus on the garden or garden related subjects. Click here to link to School Garden References for a list of books. In addition, the garden can be the location for "Read Outs," partner or "Buddy" reading, cross-age reading tutorials, and individual sustained silent reading. A garden can be designed with a literary theme of a book (e.g., Peter Rabbit), a series, or an author with references to the book or books throughout the garden. A Dr.Seuss garden could include wild looking veggies such as Brussel sprouts and succulents such as tree aloes looking like Truffula trees from the Lorax. Larger gardens can incorporate a different book for different grade level plots or raised boxes within the garden. Book posters can be a part of the garden, either laminated or protected on roofed kiosks. Add scarecrows dressed as characters from grade level literature or as the students themselves enjoying a book in the garden. Include reading nooks, hay bales, benches, etc. to promote the pleasure of reading in the garden. School librarians may also want to use these gardens!
With a simple clipboard, the garden becomes a wonderful arena for creative and journal writing. Any writing assignment will be fun when the students are outside in a garden. Students might interview a classmate, work on a collaborative story, play, or group report in the garden where their talking does not interfere with others in a classroom. Other garden ideas that easily fit into writing curriculum requirements are:
- Alphabet- A garden of letters and phonics for young learners (S is for soil, sunflowers, etc.)
- Poetry- Structured poetry, especially, draws inspiration from the garden. Try haikus, cinquains, five senses poems (i.e. I see…, I hear…, I smell…, I taste…, I feel…, I know…,) and concrete poetry.
- Journal writing- Journals are excellent tools for maintaining permanent records of children's experiences in the garden. Creating a journal provides an opportunity for the child to use his or her observational, imaginative, expressive, and artistic skills. Making regular entries in a journal helps develop a child's writing and observation skills and provides information from which he or she can learn to draw conclusions. Journal entries can also be used to record measurements such as numbers of plants or leaves or daily soil and air temperatures.
Even grammar can be taught in a garden (e.g. Choose two adjectives to describe a plant or a vegetable growing in the school garden).