Life Lab

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

Bring one of the following workshops to your site or come to one of our upcoming workshops at our Garden Classroom in Santa Cruz, CA

The Growing Classroom: A Garden-Based Learning Intensive (Grades 2-6)

Learn to use a garden to breathe life into standards-based lessons, promote ecological literacy, encourage healthy eating, and support students’ social development. Using Life Lab’s Growing Classroom activity guide for grades 2-6, participants in this hands-on workshop experience tried-and-true garden-based lessons linked to Common Core Language Arts and Math and Next Generation Science Standards; practice basic gardening techniques, and develop management strategies for a school garden program. Graduate education units available.

Next Generation Science in the Garden (Grades K-5)

Let’s head outside and put earth and life back into Earth and Life Science! Using activities from Life Lab’s award-winning curricula, participants in this workshop learn to use a garden as a meaningful context in which their students can engage in Next Generation Science and Engineering Practices to examine Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross-Cutting Concepts. 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? Graduate education units available.

Language Arts and Math in the Garden (Grades K-6)

Learn to use a school garden to provide a meaningful context in which students can apply their emerging skills in math and English language arts. Using lessons from The Growing Classroom activity guide, participants in this workshop will experience and discuss garden activities that support learning in math and language arts. Whether they are graphing the temperature of their compost pile over time; reading a recipe to make fresh salsa; writing a story from the perspective of an ant; or presenting to a buddy class on the animals that visited their sunflower patch, the opportunities for children to practice traditional academic subjects in the garden are limitless! Graduate education units available.

Plant to Plate: Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education (Grades K-8)

Make the connection from seed to table in this fun and delicious workshop. Using tried-and-true Life Lab lessons and recipes for grades K-8, participants explore effective ways to teach nutrition and encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables through hands-on activities with food, including harvesting and meal preparation. Graduate education units available.

Sowing the Seeds of Wonder, Part 1: Designing the Preschool Garden Learning Environment (PreK-K)

Look at the garden through the eyes of a young child. Using Life Lab’s Sowing the Seeds of Wonder activity guide for preschool and kindergarten, participants in this workshop will explore leadership techniques and physical garden design elements that cultivate in young children a sense of peace, caring, curiosity, and joy. This workshop is ideal for new educators as well as seasoned educators ready for a fresh perspective on guiding positive behaviors as well as designing an environment that is ripe for learning, connection, and growth. This workshop can be taken on its own, or in conjunction with Sowing the Seeds of Wonder, Part 2. Graduate education units available.

Sowing the Seeds of Wonder, Part 2: Garden Activities that Inspire a Love of Learning, Healthy Food, and Nature (PreK-K)

Discover how you can use a garden to cultivate young children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature. Using Life Lab’s Sowing the Seeds of Wonder activity guide for preschool and kindergarten, participants in this workshop will sample activities designed to encourage young children to safely explore the natural world using all of their senses. We will practice basic gardening and cooking skills together, with a focus on how to grow and prepare food with young children. We will also learn garden art projects and songs for preschoolers. This workshop can be taken on its own, or in conjunction with Sowing the Seeds of Wonder, Part 1. Graduate education units available.

Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden

Learn the basic skills you’ll need to design, develop, enhance, and maintain a school garden. Using Gardens for Learning, participants in this workshop learn about garden design, soil preparation, planting, watering, and pest management as well as building a support network, linking to academic content standards, and program planning. Schools may opt to add a second workshop day to apply these skills directly at their site. Graduate education units available.

Supporting English Language Learners in the Garden

Discover the opportunities for meaningful writing, reading, listening and speaking that abound in a school garden! Participants in this workshop engage in scaffolded lessons and examine the specific strategies that make content accessible to students with varying levels of fluency in English. They then practice facilitating garden-based lessons with structured participation strategies to ensure that every student is involved. Graduate education units available.Graduate education units available.

Classroom Management in the Outdoors

Let’s explore tried-and-true tips for establishing and maintaining a positive, engaging culture of learning and fun in a garden setting! Together we will experience and discuss setting the tone for effective learning; garden class routines; station rotations; and specific techniques to maximize student engagement and participation.

School Garden Program Management

Why do some school gardens take root and become well-established, while others struggle? In this workshop, we will discuss key elements of well-integrated school garden programs. Together, we’ll explore different, sustainable school garden program models; planning tools to align year-round garden activities with academic and garden care goals; methods for assessing garden programs; and strategies for increasing funding.

Digging Deeper Into School Gardens (Grades K-8)

Create a customized workshop specifically designed for experienced garden educators and/or past Life Lab workshop participants who are ready to take their educational garden to the next level. Possible workshop topics include:

  • Sequencing lessons for each grade and/or season
  • Facilitating student-led inquiry investigations in the garden
  • Lesson Coaching: Participants demonstrate lessons and give and receive feedback with support

The content for these workshops is unique from that of our introductory workshops, making Digging Deeper an ideal follow-up experience. Graduate education units available.

The Food Lab Experience

Discover the magic that happens at FoodLab! At Pacific Elementary School, FoodLab students cook the daily school lunch. Participants in this workshop will learn to set up a kitchen space that will encourage children to explore, ask questions, and connect to food they make themselves. We will also explore activities to engage children’s curiosity and enthusiasm while introducing them to fundamental ideas in math, chemistry, language arts, history, and leadership skills. Graduate education units available.

Santa Cruz School Food and Garden Tours

Get inspired by some of the most impressive and well-established cooking and school gardens in the nation! The Santa Cruz area has a rich history in school gardening. On this tour, participants will see a wide variety of school gardens, meet with long-time garden educators, and cross-pollinate with other garden educators to learn from one another. Graduate education units available.

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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