Quick and dirty lessons

by FoodCorps Service Member Susie Burton

Garden-based lessons can be difficult to plan and execute.  You’ve got to balance the content that needs to be covered, what’s growing in the garden at the time of your lesson, and the unique classroom management requirements of a school garden.

Garden-based lessons can also be really stinkin’ easy.

Today, after a ten-minute chat with one third grade teacher and a few strategic strokes of whiteout, we transformed an “area scavenger hunt” worksheet into a garden-based lesson.  I co-taught three classes of third graders, introducing the mathematical concept of area and how to calculate it by measuring our garden beds and other features of our outdoor classroom.

Ten minutes of conversation, a bottle of whiteout, a box of rulers, and a stack of worksheets is all it took to create a lesson which resulted in 40 minutes of experiential learning for each of 50 students.

40 minutes/student x 50 students= 33 hours of student experience in the garden

Complex and intensive lessons in the garden can be really fun and really meaningful, but it’s good to remember that creating a garden-based lesson can be as simple as measuring a raised bed instead of a desk, counting seeds instead of Skittles, or calculating the cost of broccoli instead of basketballs.

Just make sure you have the whiteout handy.


Slight smile as we master a new skill


Taking on the challenge of our longest garden bed!


Ms. Susie got a little bit distracted from quality photo taking (because look at how pretty and green those carrot tops along the left are!)




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