Life Lab

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

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Everyone Needs a Rock

Everyone Needs a RockKids use their senses to explore and identify rocks, Ages 2+, 15 min+ Start by asking your kids, “If you lost your favorite possession, what would you do to try and find it? What senses would you use?” Discuss what senses can be helpful to i [...]

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Paper Pots

Paper Pots Make paper pots with your kids and learn about reusing newspaper to help your garden grow! Ages 5+, 30 min+ Reuse newspaper to help get your seeds started in a pot you can make at home with your kids.  There is no need to go out and buy small pots when [...]

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Samara Seeds

Samara Seeds Create a physical model of a seed that soars and watch how it flies! Ages 5+, 30 min+ A samara is a type of fruit surrounding a seed in which a flattened wing of papery tissue develops, allowing the wind to carry the seed away from the parent plant. T [...]

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Playing Human Camera

Playing Human CameraPretend to be cameras and photographers and you and your kids will see the garden in a whole new light. Ages 2+, 15 min+ Head outside and show your child how you will guide her safely and then have her close her eyes.  Tell her, “Now I’m the [...]

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Flower Bling

Flower BlingCreate nature-inspired jewelry using fresh flowers and fishing line. 30 min, Ages 5+ Spring and summer is a great time to create beautiful necklaces, bracelets or crowns made out of flowers found in nature and some 40 pound gauge fishing line.  Flowers [...]

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Family Walks

Family Walks Easy low-prep ideas to get kids out exploring nature on a walk. Ages 2+, 15 min+ Family walks have become a daily occurrence for us recently and we have found some creative ways to explore our natural surroundings. Giving kids a sense of purpose or ju [...]

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Rainbow Chips

Rainbow Chips Explore your yard or nearby outdoor space for all the colors of the rainbow. Use paint samples or other color chips as a guide. 15+ minutes, Ages 2+ The outdoors are full of vibrant colors but we don’t always take the time to look closely at just [...]

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Amazing Reseeding Annuals

Reseeding AnnualsI call them "amazing" because this bunch of plants has the ability to surprise and delight every year that they return to the garden! Self-sowing, or reseeding plants create seeds that re-emerge as plants year after year. Some gardeners refer to these p [...]

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Next Generation Science in the Garden Webinar

Where better to explore ecological interdependence, growth and development of organisms, structure and function, adaptation, and the environmental impact of human activity than in an outdoor garden classroom? In this edWeb webinar Whitney Cohen, Education Director at L [...]

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Card Hike

Card Hike Send kids out on a hike to complete fun, nature-inspired tasks along the way. Ages 2+, 15 min+ Sometimes our kids need a little extra motivation to get out and get hiking and this is a great activity to add a little spark.  Before we head out, I make so [...]

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Nature Journaling

Nature JournalingKids create their own garden journals and use them to record observations of nature in the garden, through drawing, writing, and painting. Journaling brings literacy, art, and creativity into the outdoors and can be used as a one time activity or as an [...]

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Wheat Heads

Wheat HeadsMake and decorate a planter with faces that will grow wheat hair you’ll be able to make fun haircuts to. Ages 5+, ~ 30min Looking for an activity that involves reusable material, gardening, and craft-making? Wheat heads is a favorite activity in which [...]

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Rock Painting

Rock PaintingFind some rocks and paint beautiful designs, creatures and other nature-inspired themes on your rocks. Ages 2+, 30 min Add a pop of color to your garden or window sill or create a pet you don’t need to take care of! All you need for this activity is [...]

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Sheet Shake

Sheet Shake Use a sheet to explore just how much life can live in a backyard bush or shrub. Ages 5+, 15+ minutes What use does an old bed sheet have in a garden?  It’s a wonderful exploration tool for examining the wondrous amounts of life that a single bush c [...]

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Six Seed Trail Mix

Six Seed Trail Mix Make a good snack while thinking about plant parts, especially seeds, and perhaps doing some seed math in the process! 20 minutes, Ages 5+ A variety of edible seeds, roasted or raw, such as:  Pumpkin seeds Sunflower seeds Almonds W [...]

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Citrus Salsa

Citrus Salsa Delicious winter/spring salsa that will keep you returning to the salsa bowl! 30 min, Ages 5+ 4 cups peeled & finely chopped citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, mandarins) ½ cup finely chopped onion ¾ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro (sm [...]

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Pesto Green Sauce

Pesto Green SauceA mouth-watering dip/spread/sauce full of flavor! 20 minutes, Ages 5+ Classic Basil Pesto:4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed½ cup grated parmesan cheese½ cup olive oil6 T. pine nuts or walnuts4 garlic clovesPlace all the basil leaves and garlic i [...]

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Herbed Flat Bread

Herbed Flat Bread Use any fresh herbs you have on hand or in your garden to add flavor to a delicious whole grain flatbread. Mold the bread into any fun shape you want! 90 minutes, Ages 5+ 1 Tablespoon yeast 1 teaspoon of sugar  2 cups warm water 2 teas [...]

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Making an Olla

Making an Olla Use terra cotta pots to create a homemade Olla. 30 min, Ages 5+ Ollas (pronounced “oy-yahs”) are unglazed clay/terra-cotta pots with a bottle or tapered shape that are buried in the ground with the top/neck exposed above the soil surface and [...]

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Pressed Flower Card

Pressed Flower Card Use flowers, leaves and some heavy books to create natural art on a card. 1 hr, Ages 5+ This activity will inspire observation and appreciation of nature while also making a beautiful craft. Start by encouraging kids to observe the plants arou [...]

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Leafy Water Play

Leafy Water PlayExploring waters' wondrous properties by observing beads of water on different leaves. 15+ minutes, Ages 2+ Let's explore waters' wondrous properties! I watched two kids pass beads of water back and forth on nasturtium leaves. Their curiosity of wa [...]

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Spider Web Hunt

Spider Web Hunt Search for sneaky spider webs. Using a spray bottle with water, spray gently and watch the web design come alive. ~30 minute, Ages 2+ A kid once asked me, "What do spider homes look like?" So together we set off on an adventure to find out. We fir [...]

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Soft Pretzels

Soft PretzelsTwist soft dough into your own designs and enjoy a hearty treat. 60 - 90 Minutes, Ages 2+ 1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounce or roughly 2 teaspoons)2 T. sugar1 1/8 teaspoons salt1 1/2 cups warm water4 cups all-purpose flour (Life Lab uses whole wheat [...]

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Veggie Roll-Ups

Veggie Roll-UpsRoll up your favorite veggies and dip or spread and slice to create yummy veggie art! 20 minutes Ages 4+ Fresh vegetables from the garden (Just about anything you have to harvest can work here. Nice raw options include beets, carrots, green beans, sn [...]

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Sun Tea

Sun TeaMake a refreshing garden tea with the power of the sun! 15 minutes prep. Ages 2+ 1 large glass jar with lid1 handful of fresh or dried mint leaves or other suitable plants, or a combination (examples: lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, rose hips [...]

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Kale Smash

Kale Smash Kids of all ages can tear kale leaves and massage the kale along with avocado and lemon to make this tasty treat! Ages 4+ 30 minutes 2 bunches of Kale, such as Dino, Red Russian, etc., torn into bite sized pieces2 Avocados4 Tbsp. of Lime or Lemon JuiceSa [...]

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Honey Seed Snacks

Honey Seed Snacks Remember to thank the bees when you enjoy these honey and seed treats! Lots of fun for little hands to shape these into balls… or moon shapes… or worms! Ages 2+ 30+ minutes ½ cup carob or cocoa powder ½ cup honey ½ cup peanut butte [...]

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Seed Spheres

Seed Spheres Make spheres out of mud and native flower seeds. Dry them in the sun, and then toss them out to fill an area with native flowers. Ages 5+. ~30-45 min Materials: A bowl, pail or bucket you don’t mind getting dirty A trowel A full watering c [...]

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Garden Frittata

Garden Frittata A perfect spring meal using fresh or dried herbs, greens and other veggies you may have on hand Ages 5+. ~60 min 2-3 cups pre-cooked vegetables (could include garlic, onion, chard, kale, spinach, artichoke hearts, peppers, zucchini, potato, brocco [...]

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Garden Green Smoothies

Garden Green Smoothie Blend some fresh greens and fresh or frozen fruit to make a yummy smoothie, and toast to the garden! Ages 2+. ~30 min 5 chard leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped (or torn) or 1 cup of spinach leaves 1 cup water 1 cup plain yogur [...]

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Stone Soup

Stone SoupMake a delicious soup using what you have on hand. Best when each family member contributes a different ingredient to the pot, and even better when the Stone Soup story is told to kick off the cooking! Ages 5+ ~60 min+ 8 cups veggie broth 3/4 cup dried l [...]

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Little Munchkins

Little Munchkins Pretend you have shrunk to the size of an ant and imagine the world from that perspective! Ages 5+ ~15 min For this activity you’ll need a string (about 24 inches long), colored pencils, paper, a firm book or clipboard to draw on and a magnifyi [...]

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Pollinator Observation

Pollinator Observations Use a tally sheet to observe pollinators visiting a flower. If you want to be a “citizen scientist” upload your data to the Great Sunflower Project. Ages 6+ 15 min+ This activity is perfect for window-watching or outdoor quiet and refl [...]

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Bug Races

Bug Races Search for bugs, set up a race and watch them go! Ages 2+ ~30min Easy, fun and a great energizer! Take kids outside and look for bugs that can race against each other. The best places to find bugs are under rocks, pots or other cool, dark, and moist pla [...]

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Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

Six of One, Half Dozen of Another Use your senses to find and classify contrasting objects Age 6+ ~30min This is a great activity for making detailed observations and improving your child’s appreciation of our natural world in a fun and engaging way. The first [...]

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Root View Cups

Root View CupsUse a clear plastic cup to view and explore how plants grow Ages 5+ ~45min Looking for a project kids can continue to track and monitor over the next 3-4 weeks? This project is a great way for kids to examine and observe how roots grow over time throu [...]

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Tape Bracelets

Tape Bracelets Make a decorative bracelet using tape and found objects Ages 3+ ~30 min This is my daughter’s current favorite outdoor activity because it allows her to search for things, be creative, and in her words, “make something fancy!” Gently wrap a [...]

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Birdseed Wreaths

Birdseed wreaths are a winter feast for our feathered friends! Kids, adults, and birds alike love these decorative projects. They are easy to make and create terrific gifts. They look wonderful hanging in trees or in windows. Makes 12 small wreaths. Here's what you'l [...]

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Fruit Leathers

Fruit leathers, or a your kids may know them, fruit roll-ups, make wonderful, packable, healthy snacks year-round. Your kids will love turning freshly harvested fruit into mush, and then making that mush into fruit leathers. Apricots, apples, pears, berries, and plums a [...]

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Garden Tour Promoters Pack

As part of Life Lab's 40th Anniversary we organized and promoted "Santa Cruz County Open School Gardens Day" This was a one day event where 14 local school gardens opened their gates for community building and garden tours. Our post event assessment noted that about 300 [...]

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Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
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
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