Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Category : Lessons & Activities

Independent Stations – Caretaking and Observations

A garden classroom is wonderful space for children to "take ownership" of a corner of their school. Here are examples and resources for independent stations that contribute to garden caretaking and/or engage students in the scientific practice of [...]

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Garden Pathways

101 Ways to Connect Learning to the Garden Gardening Project Map created in the early 1980s by Vicki Greenhouse for her 2nd & 3rd grade students in Lincoln, Vermont. Orginally published in Life Lab's The Growing Classroom in 1982, reproduced in c [...]

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1,700+ Educators Trained in California School Garden Training Program

The California School Garden Training Program (CSGT) trained 1,729 educators from 2012- June, 2014. It includes workshops on Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden (CSYSG) and Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education (GENE). CSGT also conducts Train-the-Trainer Works [...]

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How Do Schools Compost?

A senior intern at Life Lab, Savannah Rugg, created a composting in schools survey (still open!) to better understand how composting functions in schools and school-districts. The survey asks questions regarding types of composting, compost materials, compost manageme [...]

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Common Core in the Garden

Here at Life Lab, we have cross-mapped every lesson in The Growing Classroom with the new Common Core Math and Language Arts standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) being rolled out in schools across the country! We&# [...]

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Inquiry in the Garden Webinar

Life Lab's Education Director Whitney Cohen led an enthusiastic webinar on Inquiry in the Garden as part of EdWeb's Growing School Gardens Community.  Inquiry in the Garden: Facilitating Student-Led Investigations for Grades K-8 Webinar covers how to create [...]

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The Fine Art of Flower Pounding – Making Floral Prints Video

Here's a great art activity to do with flower petals. Download this lesson and some others from The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Activities to Get Outside, Dirty and Having Fun! View more activities in our easy garden activity video playli [...]

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Farm and Garden Jokes

Knock, Knock... Have a joke or riddle of your own? Share it in the comments below. What did the doctor remove from her salad? Kidney beans! Why do worms act so frightened? They have no backbone. What is an ant? A hard-working bug that still finds time to go to lots [...]

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Book Review: Our School Garden! by Rick Swann

Books reflect our lives and the times that we are living, as the details that form the content weave cultural elements of any given place and time into the words. For this reason, seeing a children’s book about school gardens is a heartening symbol of our current [...]

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Seed Saving Resources

  Educator Resources for Teaching About Seeds A Handful of Seeds: Seed-Saving and Seed Study for Educators - free download with practical information on seed saving in the school garden and seed history and lore. Fedco Seeds [...]

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Make A Human Sundial

The human sundial in our garden never fails to fascinate children and adults alike. To use it a person stands on the appropriate month marked on the ground and their shadow is cast on a numbered marker that tells the time. A human sundial or analemmatic sundial dif [...]

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2012 ~ Family Gardening Book

Order Now View front and back cover [...]

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Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods Lesson Packet

Feeling Fine With Fresh Foods Lesson packet from our Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods Field Trip. Our winter field trip helps students make the important connection between their health and the foods they choose. Classes explore our Garden Classroom and the UCSC Farm, and [...]

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Six Seed Trail Mix

A great extension to a seed study lesson. Make a trail mix of edible seeds while students practice math skills. While eating your trail mix discuss all the ways we eat seeds and grains. Download seed cards and lesson. [...]

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“Help! I’m the New Garden Parent” – Online Lessons and Resources for Garden Educators

Recently, my friend who has become the "garden parent" for her son's school lamented to me, "I know how to garden, but what am I going to do with 10 kindergarteners in the garden?" There is a world of difference between gardening in your yard and [...]

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Worm Composting Resources and Video

We like our red worms that compost for us at the Garden Classroom. Here are some resources for you to learn and teach about red worms. Life Lab's Ultimate School Composting Website   The Worm Guide: Vermicomposting Guide for Teachers [...]

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Garden Scavenger Hunts

Many teachers break large groups of students into smaller groups in order to facilitate meaningful learning opportunities in the garden. By designing some activities that a small, supervised group of students can accomplish independently, teachers are able to divide the [...]

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How Do You Say “Rake” In Spanish? – Spanish Language Garden Resources

Over the years we have been asked, "Do you have any garden-based education resources in Spanish?" Here's a nice collection of resources for teaching and working in school and community gardens with Spanish speakers:   For Ga [...]

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My Edible Garden

Create edible art or a garden cracker with humus "soil" and veggie piece "plants".  We have used this lesson as an edible art activity, to teach about plant parts, and to eat the rainbow of colors in the garden. Download the lesson and have fun. [...]

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Farm and Garden Educator Resource Round-up

Farm and Garden Educator Resources that were shared during the "On the farm and in the garden educators" bus tour. 2011 Eco-Farm Bus Tour visited Cesar Chavez Middle School in Watsonville, De LaVeaga School in Santa Cruz, The Life Lab Garden Classro [...]

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Chard, Eat It!

Not only is chard a delicious and amazingly healthy addition to any dish, as evident in all of the following recipes, it is also easy to grow in most regions. A great source for tips in starting your very own chard patch can be found at Organic Gardening. The history of [...]

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Worm Bin Bingo

Materials: Fresh, "living" worm compost. Download and print up worm bin bingo pages and laminate or cover in plastic sleeves. Pennies, beans, or other small items to mark bingo cards. Tweezers, hand lenses, and/or sticks to explore worm compost.   [...]

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Free Garden Science Exploration Units

Created with lessons from the K-5 Life Lab Science Curriculum and The Growing Classroom. These units have 6 lessons each and are available as a PDF download or purchased as a set of four from our store Download the following units: [...]

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New Publications for Families and Pre-school Educators

Our two new publications will help get families and wee-ones exploring the garden!Sowing the Seeds of Wonder - Discovering the Garden in Early Childhood EducationThrough hands-on activities preschool-age children will engage all of their senses as they di [...]

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“Back Pocket” Garden Activities

The following videos demonstrate what we, here at Life Lab, refer to as "back pocket activities." These are all quick, easy, and highly engaging activities that require minimal preparation. We suggest always having one or more of these activities read [...]

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Middle School Social Science Lessons

These lessons have been developed to bring garden-based nutrition education and California standards-based social studies curriculum together. We believe that food history is an integral part of understanding culture and that experiential lessons in the garden and cooki [...]

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Compost Sifting Lesson

Garden instructor Jane Forbes of Westlake K-5 in Santa Cruz, CA teaches 2nd graders about compost. This 13 minute video is created from a 45 minute lesson of children learning about decomposition by sifting composting and exploring the garden. [...]

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School Garden Learning Stations

3rd Grade Mar Vista Elementary School Teacher Colleen Riggen and parent volunteers lead students in garden activities. [...]

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“Salad Bowl” Fundraiser Lesson

Garden Teacher Caprice Potter leads 4th graders in potting up "cut and come salad bowls" for Gateway's School Garden Plant Sale. Visit the Gateway school garden blog to learn more about year round teaching at the Gateway garden [...]

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Lettuce Spring Roll Lesson Video

Garden Nutrition Educator Jessica Curcio leads a small group of first grade students in the Gault School Garden Kitchen. [...]

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Creating School Garden Rules

Hear from three Life Lab Garden Instructors and one 3rd Grade Teacher on how they generate and share their school garden rules. View our post and resources for Managing an Effective Outdoor Classroom. [...]

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40 Years of School Garden Instruction

The following videos are interviews with Garden Teacher Jane Forbes of Westlake K-5, 3rd Grade Teacher Colleen Riggen of Mar Vista K-5, and Garden Teacher Caprice Potter of Gateway K-8. Collectively these three garden educators have close to 40 years of teaching childre [...]

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Spring Scavenger Hunt

Garden Instructor Susan Dahlgren leads first graders in a garden scavenger hunt. This 7 minute video highlights a 20 minute lesson at Gault K-5 School Garden in Santa Cruz, CA. [...]

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Flower Anatomy Lesson

Caprice Potter has been a garden teacher since 1987 at Gateway K-8 in Santa Cruz, CA. This 13 minute video highlights a 40 minute flower anatomy lesson taught in the spring of 2008. Visit the Gateway Life Lab Garden blog to learn more what's being taught in the garden. [...]

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2007 ~ The Growing Classroom New Edition!

This new edition of The Growing Classroom is pulished by our friends at the National Gardening Association and help to bring a fresh look and needed revisions to one of the be garden-based learning publications in print. [...]

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1994 ~ 4th-5th Grade Science Curriculum

Videodiscovery publishes 4th and 5th grade Life Lab Science Curriculum. [...]

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1992 ~ Life Lab Science Curriculum

Videodiscovery publishes Kindergarten - Third grade science curriculum. This curriculum is disseminated throughout the country training 10s of thousands of educators.< --Life Lab Science Laser Disc Cover [...]

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.

THANK YOU!

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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
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End the year making a life-chaning difference!
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With women and people of color still underrepresented in scientific fields, "I'm a scientist!" is a powerful statement coming from a 2nd grade girl in Watsonville. It came during a field trip to our Blooming Classroom field trip program. Young students look at flowers on living plants in the garden, see pollinators interacting with them, and pick a flower to dissect and explore its parts. Then they draw the flower and label all the parts they learned about in a lesson with our garden educators. This hands-on, garden-based science in action, and the feeling it gives students is exciting!

These ah-ha moments happen all the time at Life Lab, inspiring children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature. 100% of the funds needed to create these life-changing experiences come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that thousands of children each year can experience the joy of hands-on garden-based learning? Your tax-deductible gift will go directly to supporting our programs.

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We all know that hands-on experiences are critical to learning. No one would dream of teaching technology without computers: in fact, in many schools today they are mandating 30 minutes of screen time per student, per day. Why on earth with this understanding are we trying to teach earth and life science without giving them exposure to earth and life? School gardens are spaces--outdoor classrooms--where students can learn science and apply math and language arts, in a context that feels relevant to them. And what might happen if we elevated the status of hands-on, experiential, outdoor learning? What might happen if schools started mandating 30 minutes of dirt time per student per day? This would be time where they could apply what they're learning in the classroom outdoors to the world around them and develop a connection to it. Well that’s what we’re here to find out!
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"This field trip was a fun experience that taught me how to eat healthy food in a fun way." -6th grader on a Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods Field Trip
Help grow the next generation of healthy eaters!
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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom