Gardening and environmental lessons provide great opportunities for implementing National and State Science Education Standards. Such opportunities go far beyond the basic study of plants themselves to include life cycles, ecosystems, soil, weather, organisms, and many science process skills such as measuring, charting, collecting data, and reporting.
California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s published a pdf, Linking State Standards to Your School Garden that can aid teachers with integrating Core State standards with a school garden project. Students learn in-depth information of natural systems; gain a stronger understanding of life-cycles, growth, and how the environment can influence change. Learning good and safe environmental practices can help students become better stewards of the earth. Students will design, plant, grow, and harvest their garden with their own hands. School garden projects nurture community spirit, common purpose and cultural appreciation by building bridges among students, school staff, families and local businesses and organizations (cfatic.org n.d.).
CFATIC reports point to significant benefits gained from garden-based learning including:
- significant gains in overall GPA in math and science.
- improved classroom management and reduced discipline problems.
- significant increase in children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- improved agricultural and ecological literacy.
- greater concern and willingness to care for living things.
- improved attitudes towards school and improved interpersonal relationships.
Many science and history–social science concepts can be taught in grade two through activities shared in planting and maintenance of a school garden or through investigations that arise from the production of food in a garden. In Grade two, science standards require students to study life cycles and plants’ responses to the environment, thus making a school garden a great opportunity to teach life cycles and plants. Calfornia Dept. of Edu. (2002).
Calfornia Dept. of Edu. (2002). A Child's Garden of Standards. Retrived from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/documents/childsgarden.pdf on June 15, 2011
CFATIC.org (n.d.). Linking State Standards to Your School Garden. Retrieved from http://www.cfaitc.org/gardensforlearning/pdf/supplement.pdf on June 15, 2011
Image from http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/product/plants+bulletin+board+set.do?sortby=ourPicks&page=2 Plants Bulletin Board set.