Life Lab

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

Category : Garden Tips & Resources

Whole Class Garden Caretaker Activities

As part of a University of California Global Food Initiative project that we collaborated on with UC Davis and UC Berkeley, we created the the following activity guides for undergraduates to lead local school children in garden caretaking. These UCSC students are part o [...]

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kids in the garden


Make a Weather Station

Incorporating climate science into a classroom or garden is a fun and enriching way to heighten students’ awareness of the natural world around them. Weather stations are compact and versatile and are an excellent tool for teaching children about weather patterns and [...]

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Make a Weather Station


Independent Stations – Caretaking and Monitoring the Garden

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 observation. Many of [...]

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kids composting


Webinar: Innovative Ways to Fund Your School Garden

View the archived webinar at EdWeb Growing School Gardens Community www.edweb.net/schoolgardens. Life Lab curates the following resources at the Collective School Garden Network: Finding Funds for School Gardens at www.csgn.org/funding-school [...]

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Summer Vacation for Your School Garden

Summer Vacation for Your Garden- Adapted from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2003. Here are some ideas to keep your garden maintained during the summer so that your fall garden will be full of treats to harvest instead of weeds. Garden Guardia [...]

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Outdoor Classroom Management Webinar

View Life Lab and EdWeb's Growing School Garden Community webinar on Outdoor Classroom Management View the archived webinar here! View all our webinars. View Life Lab's resources on effective outdoor classroom management [...]

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girl with binoculars


Steps to a Successful Garden Workday

-by John Fisher Life Lab's Director of Partnerships and Programs This post is part of our Sustaining School Gardens Series   Over the years I have led many garden workdays at the Life Lab Garden Classroom and school gardens across California [...]

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kids in the garden


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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Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

What a great example of repurposing, but do they work? I have researched a bit and asked school gardeners that use these greenhouses if they do work. They can with the right design.     The following sites are the b [...]

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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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Types of School Composts chart


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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kids in the garden measuring plants


Saving Water in the Garden

The newest sign in our Garden Sign collection is designed by National Geographic Scientific Illustrator Jose Miguel Mayo and demonstrates tips and tools for saving water.  View all our Garden Sign Designs. Tips for Saving Water in the Garden Plant native [...]

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saving water in the garden chart


Fall 2013 Newsletter

View our September 2013 Newsletter View newsletter archives Program Updates Meet Faith - Support our Work  Summer Accomplishments Announcing the National School Garden Network The Top Ten of Farm- and Garden-Based Education Garden Tips and Educator Re [...]

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Detergent Bottle Watering Can

Watering is an activity that kids can do by themselves, with little or no instruction. Having kids water their garden instills a care taking ethic. Kids love to water and having a watering can for every kid makes it even more fun! By collecting the right types of bot [...]

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Spring 2013 Newsletter

View The May 2013 Garden Times - Life Lab's Newsletter Program Updates What We Have Been Up To Since Our Last Newsletter Meet our Senior Program Associate - Amber Turpin and her baby Hazel Update on the California School Garden Training Program California FoodC [...]

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School Garden Design Webinar

Life Lab's John Fisher led a photo filled webinar on School Garden Design as part of EdWeb's Growing School Gardens Community. Design Ideas for a Fun, Successful Instructional School Garden Webinar shares school garden design elements from school [...]

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December 2012 Life Lab Newsletter

  You don't want to miss our December 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Educator Resources Planting Fruits Trees and Vines in School Gardens Sustaining School Gardens - Funding Garden Coordinators Book Review: Our School Garden! Recipe: H [...]

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100 Plus Years of Garden-Based Learning

​Check out the Chard those kids are holding!! And we thought that our 35 plus years of school garden work at Life Lab was a long time. Browse through these school garden publications from a 100+ years ago! There are some great illustratio [...]

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Summer 2012 Newsletter

  You don't want to miss our Summer 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Educator Resources Seed Saving Resources and Video Growing Questions - Inquiry in the Garden Teaching at a Farmer's Market Recipes: Zucchini Baba Ganoush and More [...]

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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 has multiple seed fundraising oppo [...]

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Growing Questions – Inquiry in the Garden

When kids explore Life Lab's Garden Classroom, questions naturally bubble to the surface. Giant drops of water on kohlrabi leaves, gophers peering out of their holes, and hummingbirds drinking from flower vases seem to ignite their curiosity. We find students' [...]

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Spring 2012 Newsletter

  View Newsletter View Archives     Garden Tips and Recipe Make a Human Sundial Edible Crop Planning Recipe - Kale Salad Program Updates The Book of Garden Projects for Kids Update on the California School Garden Training Program In the Community S [...]

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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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2012 Winter Newsletter

You don't want to miss our Winter 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Lessons Lesson - Six Seed Trail Mix Making Garden Signs - Tips and Photos Lesson Packet - Feeling Fine With Fresh Foods Recipe - Winter Squash Teacakes  Program Up [...]

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Planning Annual Vegetable Crops

What are Annual Plants? Annuals plants go from a planted seed to producing a seed within a year. They complete their whole lifecycle in one year or season. Annual plants make up most of our vegetable crops, and many of them can be harvested within 2 to 3 mont [...]

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Making Garden Signs

In the Life Lab Garden Classroom, we consider a good sign to be one that you don't have to repair year after year ... unless, of course, you want sign making to be a project for your students year after year.  If making signs year after year, or& [...]

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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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400 Interns and Counting – Working with Interns at The Garden Classroom

Tips for running an internship program Life Lab Internships Engaging University Students in Local School Gardens: A Toolkit for School Districts, School Garden Support Organizations and Universities 400 Interns and Counting – Working with Interns at The Garden Cla [...]

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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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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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Reuse and Repurpose in the Garden

Save money, save your landfill, and teach conservation by reusing materials in your garden. Next time you're off to buy something at the garden center first look around to see what else you have that might do the trick. Check out these resources for creat [...]

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Chicken Coop Design

Many folks have asked us for our chicken coop design. Here it is as a four page PDF(1.4mb). This coop is: easy to clean with its side access door crafty with its viewing windows and hinged roof option secure with a nest box an [...]

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Edible Crop Planning

If you haven't already it is time to start planting for your school harvest.. Planting for a school time harvest takes a bit more planning so that you time your harvests while school is still in session. Generally there are a few harvest windows [...]

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Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden

The Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden (CSYSG) Video Series is a part of the CSYSG Training Model. This workshop has been given to over a thousand educators in California and it includes the California School Garden Network's book Gardens for Learning, parti [...]

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Worm Composting

Learn to compost with worms. Video goes over selecting a container, starting a worm bin, caring and troubleshooting.Worm Composting Basics http://www.compostsantacruzcounty.org/Home_Composting/Worm_Composting/index.htmThe Worm Guide: Vermicomposting Guide for Teachers h [...]

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Summer Vacation for Your Garden

Summer Vacation for Your Garden- Taken from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2003. Also view Summer in the School Garden a 40 page guide for summer garden care from www.growing-gardens.org and confluencecenter.org Here are some ideas to keep you [...]

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Managing an Effective Outdoor Classroom

Life Lab's Effective Outdoor Management Handout (Two page PDF or view text below.) More resources on effective outdoor management: Observe School Garden Lessons taught by veteran garden instructors View our Easy "Back Pocket" Activities that all garden teach [...]

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Sustaining Your School Garden

Sustaining Your School Garden - Taken from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2002 Most people connected to schools realize that change is a given. Administrators, staff, teachers, parents and students eventually move on. This can be a challenge for maintaining and s [...]

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12 hours ago

Life Lab

Join us for Life Lab’s Annual Benefit Brunch! Complimentary delicious meal and an inspiring program. 😋

Event is complimentary, and we hope to inspire you to make a meaningful donation toward growing healthy children! 🌱

Sunday, May 19th // 11am-1:30pm // MacQuiddy Elementary, Watsonville

Register Here
www.lifelab.org/brunch See MoreSee Less

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17 hours ago

Life Lab

Be part of our Garden Classroom workshops. Join educators from all over the country and possibly from around the world. Continual Education Credit is available for most of our workshops.

Register today! bit.ly/2V9iToG See MoreSee Less

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6 days ago

Life Lab

It was an absolute pleasure working with such a stellar group of educators. Thank you all for the great work you are doing at MDUSD Science and Garden Education Program.

We look forward to working with you in the near future."This is the best day of work EVER!" -Direct quote from a teacher participant in yesterday’s "NGSS in the Garden" workshop at Sun Terrace Elementary by Life Lab. Whitney Cohen led classroom teachers from 6 different elementary schools in an amazing, in-depth training on how to implement the new Next Generation Science Standards in that tried-and-true method of "learning by doing". On the agenda were 3 sample lessons, lots more demoed garden activities, debriefs with deep dives into the 3 strands of the NGSS, and practical exercises on how to plan new lessons using the 5E’s and how to "NGSS-ify" existing science lessons. What a day!

Out heartfelt thanks to Battery Powered for making this workshop possible! See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

PSSST!!! Keep this between us but we still have very limited spaces for our Garden Sprouts Camp for 4-6 year olds. Spaces are filling up fast.

More details and registration at www.lifelab.org/camp/ See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

We hosted a gathering of Central Coast school garden educators and allies in March at Life Lab’s birthplace, Green Acres Elementary School in Live Oak. It was great to see old and new friends there and share updates from many local school garden programs.

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Our friends at the Children & Nature Network are hosting the 2019 Children & Nature Network International Conference in Oakland, California, May 16-18, 2019. We’ll be there — and we hope you’ll join us at this premier gathering of leaders, advocates and activists from the children and nature movement. You’ll be inspired by three days of powerful keynotes, expertly-curated workshops, field trips and events designed to support the work you do to connect children, families and communities to nature. Help spread the word and get the conversation going at #CNC2019. See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab is turning 40 this year! There is nothing that would make us happier than to reconnect with you.

🌱Have you attended a Life Lab summer camp or field trip?

🐞Are you a past intern?

🍏Have we made a meaningful difference in your life?

If so, please share your story by using #MyLifeLab or email us at manny@lifelab.org. We would love to share your stories with the world! See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Come explore the garden and farm with us! Our camp days will include harvesting, making garden snacks, exploring the farm, singing, storytelling, garden caretaking, garden crafts, and investigation of the natural world. This camp serves 24 campers with a 1:6 ratio of instructors to campers, allowing us to tailor camp activities to the ages and interests of our campers.

Hurry, limited spaces are filling fast! Most slots are taken. We only have Tues/Thurs available for 4-6 year olds. ALL other ages are filled. For more info and register click here bit.ly/2FC277X?platform=hootsuite&utm_campaign=HSCampaign . For questions contact Amy at (831)-459-4035 or email amy@lifellab.org See MoreSee Less

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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