What is a Student Garden?

N. Phipps

Gardens are not only building blocks for play, but also for education. There’s no better educational tool for children than the lessons learned from gardening. This fun, hands-on approach to learning allows kids to become more open minded about the world around them. Student gardens help kids develop lifelong skills for interacting with nature and others. They learn about respect as well as responsibility.

Children can learn about plant anatomy from gardening.
Children can learn about plant anatomy from gardening.

The lessons that a student garden can teach are endless. Numerous academic lessons can be incorporated into the student garden, from language arts to history. It works especially well for teaching home schooled children and covers all types of subject matter. The student garden can be used year-round, throughout the seasons, which helps kids develop a better understanding of how each season affects the garden environment.

Student gardens can teach children about different vegetables.
Student gardens can teach children about different vegetables.

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Spring provides a great opportunity for kids to learn about science. By conducting experiments, kids can learn all about plants -- how they sprout, what they need to thrive, and how they respond to various growing conditions. The student garden is a great place to learn about the various types of soil. Kids can also learn about all aspects of weather in a fun, easy to understand way. Math can also be incorporated into learning through calculating planting times and germination.

The student garden is the ideal setting for teaching children about health and nutrition by growing and harvesting food. Growing a garden can help kids learn about the environment, especially when using organic gardening methods, like composting and recycling. A children’s garden is a great way to teach them about garden etiquette and safety, including which plants are safe to eat. Allowing kids to cultivate their own gardens, with their own tools, can teach them safety as well.

During summer, kids can learn about flower anatomy and pollination. They can learn the importance of wildlife and their connection with plants by performing research into native wildlife and their habitats. The student garden can enhance learning through drawing and craft projects too, increasing visualization and memory skills. Kids can draw pictures of plants as they grow, writing descriptions or thoughts relating to them. When educational elements such as reading, language, and writing are included in a garden, children are more susceptible to learning these skills.

Creating themed gardens is another way to improve memory skills. An educational theme can make learning easier, especially with younger children. For example, a storybook theme, using plants and objects associated with a particular story or character, is a fun way to get younger kids involved with gardening. Take it a step further to help them memorize the alphabet by creating a student garden using plants beginning with each letter. This concept also works well for learning about colors by placing specific colored plants in various areas.

Many projects can be incorporated during fall, from sorting and counting leaves to studying hibernation and more. This is also a good time to discuss dormancy and putting the student garden to bed for the season. Winter is a great time to teach history, from exploring garden history to lore and legends. The garden allows children to study plant origins and various gardening styles and techniques from around the world.

A student garden can provide a multitude of learning experiences. Kids can develop social skills, conduct science experiments, and learn about nutrition and other subjects through hands-on work in the garden.

By attracting wildlife, a student garden offers opportunities for animal studies.
By attracting wildlife, a student garden offers opportunities for animal studies.

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