Curricula & Activity Guides
Update: We have cross-mapped our Growing Classroom activities to relevant Next Generation Science and Common Core Math and Language Arts content standards, and also mapped our Sowing the Seeds of Wonder activities to California's Preschool Learning Foundations. Learn more about Common Core and Next Generation in the Garden.
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The Growing Classroom – Garden and Nutrition Activity Guide New Edition!
This award-winning resource book for educators contains 480 pages of science, math, language arts, and nutrition activities that you can do with your students in the garden. A searchable online database cross-maps each activity to Next Generation Science and Common Core Math and English Language Arts Standards. Lesson topics include soil, plants, cycles, ecology, weather, nutrition, and food systems. Also includes team-building and sensory exploration activities, organic gardening skills, and information on how to create and sustain a successful school garden program. The fourth edition includes a new chapter on Healthy Eating, an expanded resource section on Cooking with Kids, over 25 student lab sheets for experiments, and more.
- Group Juggle – Students toss balls and learn one another's names
- Lighthouse – One student guides another, blindfolded student through a maze of people
- Space Travelers – Students work in small groups to explore the composition of soil
- Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other – Groups of students use multiple senses to find and classify contrasting objects in the natural environment
- A Day at the Races – Students prepare soil flats using five different soil conservation techniques and then compare water flow and soil loss.
- Seed Ya Later – Students explore seeds and learn about how they are adapted for travel. They then search around the garden or other outdoor areas for examples of seeds that travel in different ways.
Life Lab offers one- or two-day trainings using the The Growing Classroom. Learn more about The Growing Classroom: Intensive on Garden-Based Learning Educator Workshop.
Want to preview or borrow a copy of The Growing Classroom? The California Healthy Kids Resource Center has copies for Californian's to borrow. Learn more
Recent comment from a Growing Classroom user:
"Recently I purchased your book The Growing Classroom and can’t thank you enough for this wonderful resource. One of our 3rd grade teachers and I started using the lessons and are blown away by the simple set up and amazing outcome for the students. The whole school community loves the program." – Parent and School Garden Chair, Hopi Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ
The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids – 101 ways to get KIDS outside, DIRTY and having FUN
This inspiring guide offers simple, practical advice as it takes you step-by-step through more than 100 engaging, family-friendly garden activities. Whether you're playing leapfrog over pumpkins, harvesting a six-plant part burrito, cooking up a compost cake, weaving lavender wands, or pickling pears, the fun-filled memories will last a lifetime.
View sample pages:
With 40 interactive activities and games divided into five categories, Kids' Garden encourages children to engage with the outdoors and appreciate the green world around them. Each double-sided card has step-by-step instructions with colorful collage artwork. A great way for budding gardeners to plant, investigate, learn and experiment! –40 cards plus 8 page leaflet • Box 8.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches; Card 6.25 x 8 inches AGES 8+
* Independent Publisher Book Awards, Gold Medal: Children's Interactive Category
* Parents' Choice Award: Books, Gold Medal
* NAPPA–National Parenting Publications Award, Honors Winner
* Tillywig Toy Award: Books, Brain Child Award
View the table of contents of our Kids' Garden Activity Cards
Click to view Root View Cup, Chive Hairdos, Stone Paperweights, and Recycled Bird Feeders Sample Activity Cards
This activity guide is full of hands-on activities designed to inspire in young children a connection to the outdoors, an appreciation of healthy foods, and a love of learning. A searchable, online database cross-maps each activity to relevant standards from California's Preschool Learning Foundations. Lessons invite students to dig into the soil; observe birds, insects, and other critters; and enjoy the tastes of fresh fruits and vegetables they plant, harvest, and prepare. 120 pages.
Sowing the Seeds of Wonder Includes:
- Getting started information – tried and true tips for launching an educational garden.
- Twenty-eight gardening activities for children ages 2-5, featuring garden explorations; soil, plant, and animal studies; and harvest, cooking, and art projects.
- Gardening how to's: basic gardening techniques, plant lists, and design guides for creating and maintaining a thriving garden, as well as specific techniques for involving young children.
- Educator resources: garden-related songs, ECE garden case studies, and suggested literature lists.
- A searchable, online database of Preschool Learning Foundation standards relevant to each activity.
"I love this book! I intended to browse through it, but got hooked and read it from cover to cover. Early childhood educators will discover a treasure trove of interdisciplinary projects that will kindle the flame of curiosity inside every child." – Sharon Lovejoy, Author of Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots
View Sowing Seeds of Wonder Table of Contents, Rainbow Chips Lesson and Edible Flower Plant List
Life Lab Science offers teacher friendly, hands-on units that children can dig into! Recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as an “outstanding curriculum,” Life Lab Science is a core curriculum which integrates earth, life, and physical science concepts within the context of a Living Laboratory school garden. Inquiry-oriented lessons, both outdoors and in the classroom, encourage students to ask questions and explore multiple solutions. Unit topics, such as soil, water, weather, plants, and animals use a developmental approach based on students' prior knowledge. Assessment is embedded in the activities and extensions are included.
Life Lab Science is garden-based and grade level specific (K-5). Teacher instructional manuals include pre- and post-assessment, unit planners, parent letters, and suggested connections to language arts, math, and social studies. View the complete curriculum (K-5) Scope and Sequence to learn how each unit of Life Lab Science supports science process skills and life, earth and physical science concepts.
"I am a scientist have a Ph.D in molecular/microbiology, but I am a mom first. When I came to my son's 2nd grade class and found that the 'science' kids were doing consisted of making dinosaur dioramas, I knew the school needed to do more. I wanted elementary school students to be exposed to true, hands-on science. I chose Life Lab to fill the void because the science was sound. The Life Lab program provides true experiments for students and inspires in them a love of science." – Volunteer Garden Coordinator near San Diego, CA.
Grade level sampler packets are linked to from grade level descriptions below.
First grade – third grade curriculum is sent with one copy of the lab book. Fourth and fifth grade curriculum comes with lab pages in their appendices.
Additional Lab Books for grades first – third and Spanish Blackline Masters for all grade levels may be purchased separately. View sample Spanish Lab Book pages.
Download Life Lab Science lesson matrix that links science lessons to gardening skills.
Adopting a garden-based science program at your school? Have Life Lab train your teachers. Life Lab has trained tens of thousands of teachers in over 1,500 locations. Learn more about Life Lab Science Curriculum Teacher Workshops
Great Explorations – Kindergarten
Use your senses as built-in tools for exploration of the physical properties of soil, water, plants, garden animals, and more. Culminate units of study with garden celebrations.
Kinder Black Line Master, mostly consists of parent letters – 10 pages
Earth is Home – First Grade Teacher Resource Manual
Investigate the concepts of diversity and cycles while studying the differences among organisms. Themes include: plant life, soil, weather, and garden creatures.
1st Grade Blackline Master – parent letter and student lab book worksheets – 104 pages
Change Around Us – 2nd Grade Teacher Resource Manual
Observe and investigate the concept of change by measuring the conditions that affect living and non-living things such as plants, water, food chains, resource conservation, and air.
2nd Grade Black Line Master – parent letter and student lab book worksheets – 118 pages
How Things Work – 3rd Grade Teacher Resource Manual
Investigate concepts such as: garden tools as simple machines, structure and function of plant parts, garden animals, and soil.
3rd Grade Black Line Master – parent letter and student lab book worksheets – 190 pages
Connections – 4th Grade Module Set
Explore the interactions and physical properties of a habitat or ecosystem while applying the skills necessary for science investigation of water, nutrient cycles, food webs, and light. 4th grade consists of 8 modules with lab pages and a teacher guide.
4th Grade Black Line Master – parent letter and student lab book worksheets – 300 pages
It has come to our attention that in some copies of 4th Grade Module 5 – Light Interactions, pages 10-11 were missing. We are sorry about this. Find these pages here: Module 5 – Light Interactions Pages 10-11
Change Over Time – 5th Grade Module Set
Study the adaptations and evolution of living organisms and their interactions with climate, soil, plants, animals, and seasons. 5th grade consists of 8 modules with lab pages and a teacher guide.
5th Grade Black Line Master – parent letter and student lab book worksheets – 268 pages
Maize Activity Guide for 5th to 8th Grades
Maize is designed to help children understand what agriculture is and why it is important. Activities help raise awareness of the diversity of local and national food production, introduce components of farming, and demonstrate basic ecological concepts related to growing food sustainably.
Download the Diversity Game lesson from Maize
Popcorn is designed to help children understand what agriculture is and why it is important. Activities help raise awareness of the diversity of local and national food production, introduce components of farming, and demonstrate basic ecological concepts related to growing food sustainably.
1st to 4th grade Science Exploration Units – Plants, Soils, Pollinators, Habitats Created with lessons from Life Lab Science and the Growing Classroom our Science Exploration Units are garden themed based and aligned to the California State Science Standards. Themes for each grade are: 1st Grade – Plant Adaptations, 2nd Grade – Soil Studies, 3rd Grade – Garden Pollinators, 4th Grade – Garden Habitats. 4 lesson packets with 6 lessons per packet
Science Exploration Units are available as free individual downloads as well.
Download Getting Started (1.8MB)
Download Getting Started En Espanol Comenzando (5.2MB)
The Life Lab Science Program distilled their years of world-wide school garden experience into a concise 50-page guide that asks and answers most questions you need to consider for creating an outdoor classroom garden. Items covered include your garden’s purpose; school staff, volunteers, and students; connecting with curriculum; site selection and design; theme gardens; fund-raising; public awareness; and more. Get this guide if you are thinking about starting a garden for your school or program, then move on to The Growing Classroom and Life Lab Science. This publication is available free as a PDF download, see links above.