Life Lab

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

Category : Lessons & Activities

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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My Rock


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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Flying Seed Simulator


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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Family Walk


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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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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Card Hike


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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Garden Journal


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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Wheat Heads


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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Painted Stones


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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Sheet Shake


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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Seed Mix


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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Citrus Salsa


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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Green Sauce


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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Love Flat Bread


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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Pressed Leaves and Flowers


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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Nasturtium Cup


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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Spider Webs


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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Pretzels


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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Eating Veggie RollUp


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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Sunny Sun Tea


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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Smashing Kale


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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Honey Seed Snacks


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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Seed Spheres Fun


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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Frittata


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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Green Smoothie


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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Stone Soup


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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little-munchkin


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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Pollinator Tally


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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bug crawling


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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Opposites


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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Root View Cup


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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tape bracelet


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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Fruit Leather


Education Outside School Garden Program Resources

Education Outside’s School Garden Program Resources – An Incredible Collection of Resources to Run a School Garden Program [...]

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Webinar and Curriculum – The Soil Story: Unearthing Connections Between Climate Change, the Food We Eat, and Human Health

  NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project webinar The Soil Story: Unearthing Connections Between Climate Change, the Food We Eat, and Human Health presented by Jessica Handy, Education Coordinator for Kiss the Ground, and Whitney Cohen, Education Director of [...]

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plante stewards


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 th [...]

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kids composting


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6 days ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

Life Lab Summer Camps are always a beautiful and nurturing way to share the interconnections of nature with children. Although our campers could not join us in the Life Lab Garden Classroom this summer, we wanted to make it possible for them to have fun at home! So our camp team assembled Summer Activity Care Packages full of materials, recipes, and advice for 225 children who had already registered for camp. They then carefully and lovingly hand delivered them to each family, occasionally getting to say Hi! from a safe distance, too.

"Thank you so much!! I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for pooling your ideas together for non-screen fun and learning opportunities. We can’t wait to dive in!
With much gratitude,"
Ellie

We are grateful to each and every camp family for their kindness, generosity, and patience as we all navigated the new realities of this year. As a community, the camp families even donated more than $12,000 of their camp fees towards ensuring that Life Lab will continue cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education during this challenging time.

While we cannot deliver care packages to everyone in our broader Life Lab community, we hope that our growing BackPocketLearning.org website will help families seeking simple, fun, nature based activities and healthy family recipes to enjoy together at home this summer!🌈🐝🌻🌞

#lifelabmomentofthemonth #mylifelab #lifelab #summercamp #summerfun #gardenbasededucation #gardenlife #garden See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Emma Christie in the Life Lab garden at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville🌸#shareyourgaredLL #school gardens PVUSD Food & Nutrition Services #LifeLab AmeriCorps See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

In love with our @reneesgardenseeds flowers❤️thank you Renee for years of support & providing seeds for Life Lab gardens. We appreciate you! #reneesgardenseeds #lifelab #outdooreducation #gardensofgratitude #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

“Education is a practice of Freedom” #emancipation #juneteenth #americanhistory #blackhistory #teachablemoments See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Happy National Eat Your Veggies Day!😋🥕

To celebrate today we wanted to share some of our impacts this past school year. In our seven PVUSD Partner Elementary Schools, 98% of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd teachers reported that the Fall 2019 NGSS in the Garden programs improved their 1,900 students’ attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, their emotional well-being, and their connection with nature.

Our Kids Cook presentation brought exciting hands-on cooking and healthy eating to more than 1,500 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at these schools, too, in January, February and March. In tastings surveys 72% of the children reported liking or loving the fresh, healthful foods they ate, with 63% said they were trying a new fresh produce item for the first time.

278 second-graders from our partner schools enjoyed hands-on learning in field trips to our Blooming Classroom this school year. 59% reported tasting new healthy food items for the first time in lesson-based tastings, and 70% said they loved or liked what they tasted.

We would also like to remind you to eat a rainbow 🌈🥗

A diverse and colorful diet nourishes a strong and healthy body. All fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In addition, they contain phytonutrients, which give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and also play a wide range of roles in keeping our bodies healthy.

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this work possible. @sagegardenproject @pvhealth @pajarovalleyusd
@unfi @foodcorps

#eatyourveggies #EatYourVegetablesDay #mylifelab #vegetables See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab Stands With Black Lives.

The injustice of systemic racism must end. Our work at Life Lab to foster empathy, love and inclusion with the children who are the next generation will continue, and it is no longer enough. This painful moment is an opportunity and a catalyst for us to take the next steps to more purposefully weave antiracist learning into all that we do.

This is a time of active learning for us, as we listen and dig deeper into Life Lab’s part in historical and present-day oppression. We see opportunities to provide foundational antiracist lessons and experiences more intentionally throughout our curriculum and programs, joining with others who are on this path.

There are seeds of hope in this moment that we can nurture in garden classrooms. Our work with children, educators and schools can motivate actions, large and small, individual and collective, to help create real change for a more just society.

Black lives matter, and Life Lab commits to countering racism through education and love.

We know this process will include learning, unlearning and relearning. We welcome this collaborative work, and we will report back to you on our progress.

~ The Life Lab Team See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🥕Meet Cara, our Garden Programs Manager!🥕

Cara began her current position at Life Lab in 2014, but has worked with Life Lab in a variety of roles since 2007. While going to school at the University of California Santa Cruz, she found her calling to be an outdoor educator while interning at Life Lab in the field trip teaching program. Graduating from UCSC with a B.A in Environmental Studies and a minor in Anthropology, Cara brings 12 years of education experience to her position, specializing in environmental education and professional development for beginning educators. Growing up in Chicago, she jumped on opportunities to volunteer and work at learning institutions, such as the Evanston Ecology Center and the Field Museum of Chicago. Cara moved to Santa Cruz in 2003 and loves living in a community that appreciates healthy living, eating well, and the natural world. When she is not hard at work, she is hard at play, hiking, dancing, cooking, traveling and doing yoga.🥘🌎😁 See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Abby Hauth at the Life Lab garden at MacQuiddy Elementary🌸 #shareyourgardenLL #schoolgardens #lifelab @foodcorps @pvusdschoolfood See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Eat a Rainbow this Memorial weekend! Fruits & veggies provide nutrients essential for good health 🌈🥗💪🏽 #chard #carrots #schoolgardens #lifelab #eatarainbow #nutrition #gardeneducation #teachtheyouth See MoreSee Less

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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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