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Social Studies

Social Studies K-5

The Social Studies standards have not been revised for the common core.  The concepts are the same but teachers are asked to add non-fiction reading and writing into the curriculum as prescribed in the Common Core.  The garden is an excellent project-based learning site for integrating multiple subjects around grade level social studies.

Kindergarten: Learning and Working Now and Long Ago
In the garden:

  1. Students learn to work together, to share, and to follow rules.
  2. Students can write about sharing in the garden.
  3. Students and teacher read about workers especially related to jobs at the school and then write about their own garden jobs.
  4. Students and teacher read about workers from historical accounts then student can write about their account of history particularly as it related to historical gardening.
  5. Students compare and contrast the locations of people, places, and environments to the San Diego Mediterranean environment.  Students can do this comparison verbally, class charting with their teacher, or writing (alone, with partners or with the teacher).
  6. Students compare/contrast radish seeds and carrot seeds.  Then they will plant the seeds and see how they grow. (Radishes come up in a few days, are large leafed and are ready to harvest in about six weeks, whereas carrot seeds come up in about fourteen days, are fine leafed and are ready to harvest in about ninety days.)
  7. Students will understand how people lived in the past and how they sustained their families by growing their own food.


Grade One:  A Child's Place in Time and Space

  1. Students compare/contrast how location, weather and physical environment in San Diego compare with people in other parts of the United States and the world.  How do these difference and similarities affect growing things?
  2. When growing food in San Diego what grows easily, what does not? Students compare and contrast.  How does location affect how things grow?  Students will discuss cause and effect.
  3. Construct a map of the class garden.  Measure the size of the garden for a scale drawing.   Discuss what will be planted in the fall and then in the spring?  Identify a place for students to work and how any students can work in the area each time. Discover where is the water source is and ask  what else the garden map should show?

Grade Two:  People Who Make a Difference

  1. Ask students how their relatives lived long ago.  How was it the same/different from their life today.  Chart these as a class.
  2. Have students write about similarities/difference in rural and urban society long ago and today.
  3. Look at the latitude of areas around the world.  Find the five Mediterranean climates around the world (about 32 degrees north and south, along coast line, effect by ocean currents, at about sea level: Med. Area; southern California; Santiago, Chili; Adelaide, Australia; and Cape of South Africa.)
  4. How is the natural environment and gardening different in the Mediterranean area?  Have students research this, then write about it.
  5. What area of California is called the "Bread Basket of the World"?  Why?  Read, talk and write about this.

(Answer:  Central California because of all of the food that is grown in this area, which feeds much of the world.)


Grade Three:  Continuity and Change
At this grade level students learn about the Native Americans who originally settled in the students' area.  Teacher and students can read about, learn about and write about the life style of the Native Americans in the area where today's students live.

  1. In the San Diego area the Native Americans were primarily Kumeyaay people.  After reading The House on Maple Street have students write about how people may  have lived on the land long ago where the students now live.  Where did these people go?  Why?  Discuss with a partner then write about it.
  2. Review what students know about the Kumeyaay people (or native Americans of the student's area).  Chart the responses as a class.
  3. Read The Good Green Ball That Grew From a Seed or similar story.  Discuss with students their reaction to an unfamiliar food.  Have students write their own story about the first time thy tasted an unfamiliar food. 

Discuss the story and ask why the Kumeyaay did not know about watermelon. 
Have students grow watermelon (or similar food), ask students to write about their reaction to the food they grew.

  1. Together make a chart of the parts of the plant eaten by the Kumeyaay.

    Plant Part Used Uses
    Milkweed stem

    dried and chewed

    Oak acorns

    ground then cooked into mush

    Black oak bark

    carved into bowls (for water and food)

    pine/pinon nuts food
    sage seeds

    toasted for food, boiled into mush

    elderberry berries food

    tea (coughs, fever, cold)

    wild rose fruit food
    petals tea
    yucca rosette roasted and eaten
    manzanita berries food and drink
    prickly pears fruit

    eaten raw

    mesquite pods food
    juniper berries food

  2. Students may try to grow and eat some of their foods from their Natïve Garden

Grade Four: California: A Changing State (Students learn about their state)

  1. Studying the characteristics of California, students will be able to identify the physical environment of California (ex. water, land formations, vegetation, climate)
  2. Students discuss the different areas of California; deserts, coastlines, mountains and valleys.  Then students will write about these differences.
  3. Why is California called the "bread basket of the world"? How has the state's water system affected the rural areas of California and its "bread basket"?
  4. Have the students compare the different eras in California history: Native Americans, European settlements, Mexican role then statehood.  Put these comparisons in writing.
  5. How does the area in which the student lives (rural/urban, climate, water, etc.) affect the student's gardening?  Students will write about their experiences.
  6. Have students describe the differences in native gardens and food gardens.
  7. Students will write about their garden experiences-from preparing the soil to eating their food products.

Grade Five: United States History and Geography

  1. Students need to understand (and/or write about ) the eras of early settlements-from pre-Columbian settlements, American natives of the Pacific Northwest, nomadic Plains Native Americans, to woodland people of eastern America.  How did food sources and growing foods affect their lifestyles?
  2. Describe the cooperation and conflicts among the English, French, Spanish, Dutch and native Americans with the focus on plant life and foods of these peoples. 
  3. Teachers will show students how colonial herbs affected the life of early Americans (1492-1812).  Have students learn and write about their favorite colonial herbs.  Are these herbs still in existence today?  Why/why not?
  4. Students will grow some of the colonial herbs or vegetables they have studied.  Have the students write about their experiences in the garden.
  5. Describe the continued migration of Mexican settlers into Mexican (then US) territories of the West and Southwest.  How did agriculture affect this migration?  Discuss together and then write about it.


Starting with secondary school (grades 6-12) the focus is on science in the garden.