Garden Study


Your Name: Louisa Anderson

Class Grade Level(s): K-1

Class Subject: Science Work

Number of Students in the class: 13

 Lesson/Project Name: Garden Study

A.  Pre-Reflection

1. What are your professional teaching goals going into this?  Please list at least 3.

1. Try some of the techniques we learned at the workshop.

2. Recommit to outdoor experiences for the springtime and the rest of the year.

3. Practice management of the group outside.

4. Integrate curriculum back into the fall harvest with a look at the raised beds and an investigation of   the plants and the soil now.


2.  What are your goals for students going into this?

a.  Process/skill goals: A chance to again review how to be a group of students doing research outdoors, an experience separate from recess, using special tools or responding to specific questions.

b.  Subject/content goals: Compare the spring garden before planting to the fall garden after harvest.  Investigate and observe: What plants have survived the winter? Has the garlic come up

yet? Is there a temperature difference under the plastic lid of the cold frame as  compared to the temperature outside? What is soil made of?



1.  Materials

chart paper


-clipboards and paper



-popsicle sticks

-hand lenses

-large sheets of manila paper


2.  The Class/Project

a.  Prep before going outside: (20 minutes/ 1 day)

Start by remembering the construction of the raised beds and what we planted last spring. Recall the harvest soup we made this fall with the vegetables we harvested. Join in the soup-making chant we wrote last fall. Talk about individual experiences with gardens.

b. Outside: (30 minutes/ 1 day)

Description of activity:

On the next warm day, after brainstorming and recalling behavior guidelines for outdoor classroom work, load up clipboards with paper, collect pencils (and extra ones), and head out to our raised beds by way of a door we do not use for recess. Children examine the beds, look for signs of plants, lift the cover of the cold frame to feel temperature inside, sketch what they see. Label the drawings with phonetic spelling or simply writing initial consonants. Inside compare notes about what we chose to draw.

Next outside activity: 30 minutes/ 1 day

Inside talk about what we know about soil: What is it made of? What do we use it for?  Any experiences with soil?  Review the expectations of outside behavior. Discuss what to do if we find living things in the soil. What might we see? Collect cups and popsicle sticks. Return to garden site by the “science door” and make an elbow-touching circle near one of the raised beds. Demonstrate collecting soil with the sticks and encourage students to take samples from many of the beds. Also collect a communal cup of soil from a bare spot on the playground on our way back inside.


c.  Classroom follow-up: (Same day / 15 minutes)

Students pour their soil sample out onto individual sheets of manila paper at their worktables. With hand lenses, moving their soil around with the popsicle sticks, they begin to recognize some things in the soil. After a few minutes of discovery, pause the investigation to begin a list of what they see in their sample.  Add the soil from the playground on another sheet to be examined. Are there any differences in the samples from the two places? Continue the observation, adding to the list. Finish by reading the list of soil ingredients together. Ask if anyone has learned anything they didn’t know before. Did anything surprise them? What else would they like to do with soil?

Pour samples into a collective container to be returned to the garden.


C.  Reflection:

These activities seem to be a series of first steps to more activities we’ll plan outside in the spring. Lots of reminders of behavior expectations were necessary. I look forward to a time when outdoor learning is so routine that a few words of preparation suffice. I was struck by the differing responses of the children when it was time to actually touch the soil. Some were ready to investigate, but there were reports among the group of the existence of poisonous worms or bugs in the soil that can poison people. We agreed that such things do exist, but that their likelihood in our Maine garden was scant. This is, though, a sad reminder of some children’s unease with and fear of the natural environment.

The living creatures- an arachnid and two grubs- that we found this time were fascinating to watch, as was the students’ response to them.  Two children reported being afraid of them. One was “freaked out” by them he said, but then wished he had found one and that he could take one home. Many of the children carefully put away their cups and Popsicle sticks so that they can do more soil explorations.

Our next activities will be with seeds and planting. The soil scientists at K-1 may have a different appreciation of soil because of our investigations.


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