How To Incorporate Gardening into Kindergarten and First Grade Curriculum

Cross Curricular Activities

Kids harvesting vegetables

Gardening with children is a perfect hands-on multi-sensory activity. Gardening and plant care can be a stand alone curriculum if you incorporate it into each content area. Here is a guideline to incorporate a gardening unit or project into every aspect of your kindergarten or first grade curriculum.

  1. Language Arts
    • Vocabulary: Use word cards or sticky notes to label every aspect of your gardening and plants.
      • Label plants growing in your garden. (carrot, corn, beans,etc.)
      • Label different parts on a plant: stem, roots, leaves.
      • Label the parts of your garden (use a bulletin board display if necessary): soil, sun, rain, worms, plants, buds, bugs, butterflies, etc.
      • Label gardening equipment: hoe, rake water, can, hat, etc.
      • Label plants, fruits and vegetables. Include color and number words. (four red apples)
      • Label weather words.
    • Phonics
      • Make word walls from gardening words.
      • Use words with common short vowel and consonant blend phoneme patterns for kindergarten. (hat, sun, bug, stem)
      • Use words with common long vowel, and digraph and dipthong patterns for first grade. (rake, hoe, bean, seed, root, etc.)
      • Extend each word into a word family list. (rake, bake, make, take, stake, lake)
    • Spelling
      • Practice one word family per week. Include one rule breaker each week. (water, worm)
      • Make up a simple song to remember word family words.
      • Color code word families patterns. (initial consonant-blue, short vowel-orange, long vowel-red)
    • Writing and reading: Each student should:
      • Journal about gardening activities.
      • Dictate a sentence or paragraph to the teacher.
      • Use vocabulary words.
      • Copy what the teacher has written
      • Do an ELA (elicited language sample) on board together. The teacher writes what the students say. Students copy in a book.
      • Read what they have written to each other.
      • Illustrate journal entries.
      • Keep a word bank of new words from the week.
    • Literature: There are many books about gardening in children's literature. Here are some of my favorites:
      • The Carrot Seed
      • The Popcorn Book
      • The Gardener
      • A Tree is Nice
      • The Giving Tree
      • A Year at Maple Tree Farm
      • The Little Red Hen
      • Ox-Cart Man
      • The Legend of Johnny Appleseed
      • The Beetle Bush
      • A Pocketful of Cricket
      • Blueberries for Sal
  2. Math and Science
    • Count seeds.
    • Divide seeds according to how many will be needed for each plant.
    • Measure plant growth.
    • Estimate which seeds will sprout first, how big a pumpkin will get, how many tomatoes will grow, etc.
    • Graph plant growth.
    • Make a weather station. (see links for samples)
      • Gauge rain fall.
      • Measure temperature.
      • Measure wind speed with anemometer.
      • Record barometric pressure.
    • Chart and graph weather, windspeed, temperature and barometer readings.
    • Track plant progress and keep a calendar of gardening events (planting, harvesting, weeding, heavy rain storm,etc.). You can add these to your regular calendar regime.
    • Check the links attached for free math and science printables based on gardening.
  3. Art, drama and music
    • Check the link for plant and gardening songs.
    • Choose a story from the literature list to act out.
    • Dramatize a plant growing.
    • Explore the work of famous artists who specialized in plant and garden themes. Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Diego Rivera, Paul Gauguin and Vincent VanGogh are good places to begin.
  4. Social Studies
    • Map where different plants are found.
    • Explore which biomes produce which kinds of plants.
    • Use five senses to explore different kinds of plants.


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