Curriculum

Transitional Kindergarten

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  • Nature Rangers: Pre-schoolers develop observation skills, learn to use garden tools and plant seedlings while being introduced to the school garden.

  • Soil Explorers: Pre-schoolers use various tools to explore physical properties of soil and share discoveries of living and non-living matter as they dig in the garden soil.

  • Garden Snacks: Pre-schoolers learn about plant parts by tasting the six main plant parts—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds.

Kindergarten

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  • Garden Greetings: Kindergartners embark upon an exploratory adventure in the school garden. This lesson provides students with the opportunity develop their observational skills while orienting them to the school garden.
  • Soil Explorations: Students investigate the contents of soil and share their discoveries.
  • Garden of Senses: Students explore their garden using their sense of smell, touch, and sight.
  • Compare the Area of Leaves: Children are introduced to the idea of surface area and practice this abstract concept by measuring the area of a leaf with nonstandard units, such as beans, buttons, or bottle caps.
  • Incredible Edibles: Students identify plant parts as they snack on them.
  • It’s Autumn! Students taste several kinds of winter squash and describe each squash’s color, shape, taste, and texture. Students also make their own butter in jars in this fall-themed lesson

First Grade

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  • What’s My Habitat?: First graders participate in a garden-based scavenger hunt during which they discover mutualistic relationships between plants and various garden critters.
  • Food Factories: Students are introduced to the concept of photosynthesis and the vital part that plants play in the food chain. During this lesson, students plant seedlings and snack on edible plant parts and come back several weeks later to measure the growth of their plants.
  • Growing Vegetable Soup: After harvesting the vegetables and fruits they have been growing, students prepare a nutritious vegetable soup for all the class to share.
  • The Best Nest: Students survey a variety of different nests and work in pairs to build bird nests from natural materials found around the school grounds.
  • Animal Homes: Students examine the structure and function of various animal homes and conduct an outdoor search for animal homes around the garden and school grounds.
  • Garden Tea: Students gather fresh herbs from the garden, capture the sun’s energy and make delicious tea. Students also learn more about tea traditions around the world.

Second Grade

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  • Life Cycle of a Tomato: In this three part lesson, students study the life cycle of a plant as they save tomato seeds from heirloom tomatoes harvested in the school garden and plant them in the late winter/early spring to grow new seedlings.
  • From Seed to Pretzel: In this three part lesson, students experience the life cycle of the wheat plant by planting wheat seeds in October, harvesting and threshing the wheat in late May, grinding the wheat berries to make flour, and baking pretzels.
  • Leaf Attributes: Students collect and compare the attributes of various leaves as they work with a small group to create an “Attribute Train” organizing their leaves based on shared characteristics.
  • Garden Treasures: Children review coordinate graphing as they work in pairs to locate “treasures” in the garden using a life-sized coordinate grid. They also plot several elements of their school garden and learn how to make a scale drawing.
  • Dirt Detectives: Students investigate the physical properties of soil as they explore the contents of garden soil, discover that the components of soil have different densities, and conduct an experiment to determine which types of soil hold the most water.

 

Third Grade

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  • Flower Power: Third graders learn about the reason for a flower and the anatomy of a flower and try to determine which flowers attract which pollinators. They also taste test different honey flavors based on which flowers the bees pollinated.
  • World of Color: In this two part lesson, students review the Scientific Method as they experiment to see which wavelengths of light contribute the most to plant growth.
  • Traveling Seeds: Students investigate the different methods of seed dispersal and work in small groups to design and test their own seed dispersal mechanisms.
  • Three Sisters Garden: During the fall, incoming third grade students harvest and make measurements of the crops and participate in a garden scavenger hunt. In the spring, students apply what they have learned about intercropping as they design and plant a Native American garden as a gift to next year’s third graders.
  • The Mighty Worm: Students become familiar with the anatomy of an earthworm and observe the role of the worm as a soil tiller by creating and monitoring a worm bin. The worms are eventually set free in the school garden to help produce fertile soil.
  • What Good is Compost?: In this two part lesson, students are introduced to the science behind compost and conduct a scientific experiment to measure the impact of compost on plant growth.

Fourth Grade

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  • Symmetry Inside Fruit: Students explore bilateral symmetry, rotational symmetry and asymmetry within fruit. They practice dissection and observational skills.
  • Habitat Perspectives: Students demonstrate their observation and description skills as they investigate and examine what lives within a schoolyard microhabitat. Student teams practice relating the physical conditions of a habitat and what lives there.
  • Sustainability on the Ground: Students learn about the meaning of sustainability and apply it to a garden, considering how garden output waste can be recycled back into the garden as an input. The importance of beneficial insects, compost and water conservation are also covered.
  • California Indian Uses of Native Plants: In three rotations, students learn about how California Indians harvested and processed acorns as a staple food, how they started fires, medicinal herbs, how to make cordage and exploring the many uses of native plants.

Fifth Grade

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  • Eyewitness to Photosynthesis: Fifth graders observe the amount of air bubbles released from an aquarium plant when it is exposed to light and test to see if these air bubbles are similar to the air we exhale. They discover how plants and animals exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • Water World: Students discuss the cycle of water from evaporation to condensation to precipitation. Students create a self-contained wetland environment utilizing recycled tennis ball cans, sand, soil, and seeds and play a water droplet game.
  • American Colonial Uses of Plants: In three rotating stations, students learn about the plants used to make ink, dyes, and clothing and how these and many other plants were important to the colonization of North America.

Sixth Grade

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  • Planting in Circles: Students are introduced to the radius, diameter, and circumference of circles by planting circular beds in the garden, investigating circles in fruit, constructing circles using a compass, and by looking at tree rings.
  • Ancient Civilizations – How Plants Shaped History: Students gain a deeper understanding of the role that plants played in establishing ancient civilizations as they gather seeds from last year’s harvest and then plant the seeds from some of the plants that helped found civilizations in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, India, China, Greece and Rome. They will also taste and examine some of the foods and herbs that were so important to these cultures. The geography and history of the Ancient World are expored using a large map with representative foods from each region. Students work together in small groups to become experts on an assigned region and then present their region to their classmates.
  • California Biodiversity: In this two-part lesson, sixth graders use the book Atlas of Biodiversity of California to answer questions about the significance of California's biodiversity and to do research on a specific topic related to biodiversity. Pairs of students will produce a power point presentation with the responses and research findings along with some photographs of animals and/or plants relevant to their research topic.
  • The Nitrogen Cycle: Students learn about nitrogen fixing plants and their importance in nature and for agriculture, examine bacteria nodules on the roots of legumes to learn how nitrogen from the air is fied into the soil, and examine evidence about the mutually beneficial interaction between Rhizobium bacteria and legumes.
  • Garden Animal Biodiversity: Using butterfly nets, magnifiers, and insect boxes, students compare the degree of biodiversity in the school playing field with that of the native plant garden and record their findings.

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