Lessons & Activities
Rogue Valley Farm to School Curriculum
Farm Scavenger Hunt Students get a chance to explore the farm with all their senses and learn about specific topics such as seeds, seasons, and the farm ecosystem.
Seed Dispersal Students explore 4 different mechanisms of seed dispersal and identify farm plants going to seed using each method.
Root Investigation Students will differentiate between two different types of roots. Students will describe the importance and function of roots for a plant’s survival.
Fall Farm Scavenger Hunt Students get a chance to explore the farm and make connections and observations about how farms change with the seasons.
Shapes in the Garden Students search for shapes in the field, exploring plants, garden structures, and the natural environment. Students develop an understanding of the characteristics and properties of geometric shapes.
From the Field to the Table Students will harvest vegetables from the farm, wash them and prepare them for snack. Students will distinguish between ripe and unripe vegetables. Students will learn proper post-harvest handling techniques and nutrition facts about the food they harvest.
A Feast for the Eyes Students will create sculptures out of vegetables that have outgrown their edibility. Students will identify and harvest vegetables in the field that have passed their prime.
Seed Saving Students will draw and describe a plant life cycle, discussing in depth the production of seed. Students will harvest seed to be saved for next year’s planting.
Plant Lifecycle Hunt Students discuss the plant lifecycle and plant part functions. Students identify plants at different stages in their lifecycle.
Plant Parts and Our Bodies Students discuss the plant lifecycle and plant part functions. Students learn about the nutrients that plants provide our bodies.
Insect Investigation Students will capture and investigate insects, learning to identify them as a pest or beneficial. Students will be introduced to organic pest control strategies and the importance of insect pollination on a farm.
Compare and Contrast Students use all five senses to find and classify contrasting objects on the farm. Students develop deeper understanding of opposites through categorizing garden plant traits.
Compost Connections Students will learn what compost is, how it is made, and why it is important for organic farmers. Students will learn to describe and represent the nutrient cycle. Students will examine the compost made at the farm and build a compost pile with materials from the farm.
Seed Saving Students will harvest seed to be saved for next year’s planting. Students will discuss important elements to consider when saving seed, and explore specific seed-saving methods for different plant families.
Pasture Connections Students will define an ecosystem, and name the elements found in a pasture ecosystem. Students will draw connections between all the elements in a pasture ecosystem.
Pasture Connection Observation Sheet Use this sheet with the Pasture Connections lesson plan. Students will make observations about animal behavior and ecosystem connections.
How Many Seeds in a Tomato Students take measurements of different tomatoes and make predictions about the number of seeds in each one. They then count and use estimation and math skills to find the answer.
Erosion, Splash! Students will learn about the negative consequences of erosion on soil health and watershed quality. They will compare the amount of erosion (splash) that occurs with various soil conservation techniques and discuss the implications for farm soil and watershed health.
Color Hunt Students get a chance to explore the farm and make observations of the diversity and variety of colors found on the farm.
Living Camera Students use observations to find locations around the farm.
Introduction to a Seed Students will learn what a seed is, as well as the different seed parts. Students have an opportunity to see many different types of seeds. They can dissect, draw seeds, play a seed guessing game, and plant seeds in the greenhouse or in the field.
Spring Farm Scavenger Hunt Students get a chance to explore the farm and make connections and observations about how farms change with the seasons.
Worm Bingo Students explore worm composting by examining compost and identifying elements of a compost pile. Students describe how worms participate in composting. Students explain what worms need to live and how we provide for these needs in the worm bin.
Plant Pollination Students examine flower anatomy and identify the characteristics of a flower that make it attractive to a pollinator. They will discuss what animals are responsible for pollination. Students will play a pollination game to reinforce the concept of cross-pollination.
Invisible Gold Students will identity different nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. They will discuss the importance of having different nutrients in their diets, and how color can be an indicator of different nutrients.
Edible Plant Parts Students identify the 6 plant parts and describe the plant lifecycle. Students discuss the structure and function of the plant parts and classify fruits and vegetables by plant parts.
Soil Scientists Students will examine the soil composition, testing for texture, nutrients, and structure. Students will examine soil, describe important soil attributes for farming and list things farmers do to improve the soil.
Ecosystem Hunt Students explore the farm to find evidence of ecosystem components and interactions involved in the creation of our food. They answer the essential questions: “In what ways do we depend on ecosystems for our food?” And “How does food production effect ecosystems?” Students will describe ecosystem components and find examples of each component on the farm.
Other — Mixed Grade Levels
Harvest & Planting Students learn proper techniques for performing farm tasks including planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, cultivation, bed preparation and harvest. Students will distinguish between ripe and unripe vegetables.
Figuring Out the Food System Working in groups, students are given a food product from the grocery store. Students work together to make a poster displaying the path that food follows from the farm to their table including processing, packaging, transportation etc. Students discuss inputs, outputs, costs, and environmental impact of different food products. Better suited for the classroom.
Websites & Downloadable Curriculum
Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Curricular Resources
A resource guide for educators across the state to increase school garden and farm to school activities in the classroom and beyond. Links to grade and subject specific, vetted curriculum created by at committee of Farm to School and School Garden educators from across Oregon.
Eat, Think, Grow!
Wonderful lessons that are categorized by grade and season. K5, designed to meet Common Core.
School Garden Project of Lane County
This Eugene-based non-profit offers great resources and lessons. Not organized by grade level, but in a two year seasonal rotation.
Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Garden activities, program tools and resources. This is a very useful site for establishing a school garden program.
Growing Healthy Kids: Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education
Created by the Oregon State University Extension Nutrition Education Program, this is an 11 lesson hand-son, activity rich curriculum for elementary aged (grades 2nd through 3rd) children focused on nutrition education and the connection to plant parts. With the addition of the supplementary activities the series can be extended to 22 lessons. For school and non-school sites.
School Garden Wizard
School Garden Wizard was created for America's K12 school community through a partnership between the United States Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden. This site provides information and resources to start and sustain a school garden.
National Gardening Association Kids Gardening
This website has information regarding funding school garden projects, activity ideas, gardening advice. It also has a very in depth store for buying books, materials and resources to support kids gardening.
This website has useful information on sustaining a school garden and has other helpful information including their Life Lab curriculum books.
Shelburne Farms is a hub for farm-based education. They provide extensive resources for farm field trips and downloadable curriculum.
California School Garden Network
This website has a link to “Gardens for Learning – Creating and Sustaining your School Garden” manual and all chapters are downloadable. The website also has a good curriculum section with 12 downloadable lesson plans.
The Collective School Garden Network
This website has a searchable curriculum database as well as information on grants, school garden resources and the opportunity to join networks of people working in school gardens across the state and nation.
A Garden of Standards
Links California State Content Standards to many different Garden-Based Curriculum and lessons.
Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils
Elizabeth Patten & Kathy Lyons. Tilbury House Publishers 2007.
Help children understand how their food choices affect not only their own health, but also farmers, the environment, and your local community. This book invites you and your students to discover where food comes from, how our bodies use food, and what happens to food waste. You’ll participate in the ecological cycle of food production, compost formation, and recycling back to the soil. Includes background information and a guide for integrating activities into the classroom.
Math in the Garden
Jennifer White, Katharine Barrett, Jaine Kopp. National Gardening Association 2006. The activities are grouped by the predominant mathematics strands and support the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Principals and Standards of School Mathematics and the National Academy of Sciences National Standards for Science Education. Each investigation has an simple step-by-step format and can be completed within an hour. The inexpensive equipment and materials necessary for the activities can be found in most homes and garden programs.
Growing Food: “Linking Food and the Environment, An Inquiry-Based Science and Nutrition Program”
Pamela Kotch, Angela Calabrese Barton, Isobel Contento. Teachers College Columbia University & National Gardening Association 2007. The Growing Food module provides experiences for students to learn science through the study of food systems. The module’s driving question—How des nature provide us with food?—frames students investigations as they learn about critical ideas in science. Grades 46.
Farm to Table & Beyond: “Linking Food and the Environment, An InquiryBased Science and Nutrition Program”
Pamela Kotch, Angela Calabrese Barton, Isobel Contento. Teachers College Columbia University & National Gardening Association 2007.
In the Farm to Table & Beyond module, students learn science through the study of food systems. The module’s driving question—What is the system that gets food from farm to table and how does this system affect the environment?—frames students’ investigations of our complex and highly technological, global food system. Students develop an understanding of systems and examine the interacting parts of the food system. Grades 56.
Early Sprouts: Cultivating Healthy Food Choices in Young Children
Kattie Kalich, Dottie Bauer, Deirdre McPartlin. Redleaf Press 2009. A research-based early childhood curriculum, this seed-to-table approach encourages young children to eat more vegetables by planting, harvesting, and preparing their own organically grown produce.The book assists you in designing and caring for gardens, provides sensory exploration and cooking activities, and promotes healthy eating at home and at school.
Beyond the Bean Seed: Gardening Activities for Grades K6
Nancy Jurenka & Rosanne Blass. Teacher Ideas Press 1996. Lessons integrate gardening, children's literature, and language arts through creative activities that that have poetry, word play, and recipes. Literature-based projects lead to learning in a variety of subjects-from ecology, history, and geography to career exploration and the sciences. An annotated bibliography provides a list of gardening-related resources. Grades K6.
French Fries and the Food System
Sara Coblyn. The Food Project. This year-round curriculum provides kids from varied backgrounds a fertile environment in which they can develop an appreciation for the close links between farming and food systems. Lessons range from practical, handson activities to social and economic aspects of the food cycle. The lessons and activities are organized by seasons. This book is an excellent resource for classroom and community educators. Geared toward teenagers.
The Worm Café: Mid-Scale Vermicomposting of Lunchroom Wastes
Binet Payne. Flower Press, 1999. This manual describes how a teacher and her students developed a system to compost lunchroom waste with worms and save their school $6000 per year. Teachers, decision-makers, and activists in school, small businesses, and community groups will welcome this unique material. This comprehensive how-to manual gives complete steps for conducting school-wide waste audits, harvesting worm castings, incorporating lunchroom waste-composting into a recycling program, determining worm bin size, location, and costs, setting up worm bins, providing worm bedding, recognize worm anatomy, teaching about ecosystems and foodwebs with worm bins.
Cultural Uses of Plants: a guide to learning about ethnobotany
Gabriell DeBear Paye. The New York Botanical Garden Press, 2000.
Teachers will appreciate the fact that this volume not only satisfies the National Science Education Standards, but also can supplement the curriculum of Social Studies, History, Language Arts, Health, Mathematics, Environmental Science, or Biology classes. The significant lists of resources provided in the book's appendix make it easy for teachers and students to further explore any topic that interested them in the course of reading.
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Activities To Do in the Garden
Sharon Lovejoy. Workman Publishing, New York, 1999. This book presents 12 spirited, easy-to-implement ideas for theme gardens that parents and kids can grow together.
TWIGS Youth Development Program: Focus on Gardening and Nutrition
University of California Cooperative Extension, 1997. This 125 page curriculum package includes 30 field tested lessons connecting gardening with nutrition for children in Kindergarten through sixth grade. The focus is on positively influencing participant’s nutritive choices through the development and harvesting of a vegetable garden.
Lessons are flexible, meant to be selected based on interests, timing of project, and available materials. Nearly all lessons include a Handout suitable for reproducing. Many original illustrations are included.
Botany on Your Plate: Investigating the Plants We Eat
Katharine D. Barrett, Jennifer M. White, Christine Manoux. The National Gardening Association, 2008. This investigative science curriculum introduces the world of plants through foods we eat. Children explore edible roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds through observation, dissection, journaling, discussion of findings, and, of course, tasting! Supports standards in nutrition, math, language arts, and social studies. Every lesson includes plant snacks that spark curiosity, interesting questions, and social dialogue to fuel the learning process. grades K4.
GrowLab: Activities for Growing Minds
National Gardening Association. This complete curriculum uses fun, illustrated activities to explore plant life cycles, examine plant diversity, and investigate the interdependence of plants, humans, and other living and nonliving things. It's a must for any plant-based studies! Meets National Science Standards; gr K8.
The Growing Classroom – Garden and Nutrition Activity Guide
Life Lab This Life Lab book has step-by-step instructions for setting up a garden-based science program and outdoor classroom activities. Topics include working together in the garden, growing, nutrients, garden ecology, climate, nutrition, gardening tips, and food choices. The new edition includes updated content as well as an expanded gardening tips section. On-line searchable lesson guide based on lesson, grade, and standard.
Garden Detectives is a curriculum guide and gardening book that helps students use their powers of observation to solve the mystery of creating a healthy garden. The language is geared for kids 10 and older, but the concepts are applicable to and easily adapted by teachers for younger children. Students explore their garden environment through 20 hands-on activities covering soil fertility, planting strategies, plant selection, composting, watering techniques, and beneficial plants and insects. The guide includes an extensive reference section on nontoxic, kid-friendly treatments for the top 10 garden pests in coastal Southern California. Perfect for home or school gardens. Grades 48.
Junior Master Gardeners
A series of books available through kidsgardening.com that includes Health and Nutrition from the Garden, Literature in the Garden, and Youth & Leader Handbooks for becoming Certified Junior Master Gardeners.
Worms Eat Our Garbage by Mary Appelhof
This curriculum uses over 150 worm-related classroom or home activities to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in children grades 48. Activities integrate science, mathematics, language arts, biology, solid waste issues, ecology, and the environment. Grades 48