I recently obtained two resources from my local library that I thought might be of interest to some of my readers. The first resource book I picked up was “The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy & Art” by Cathy James. This book is aimed at children ages 4-8. This is a fairly substantial book at 221 pages. It has acid-free, recycled paper for the publishing and includes many photographs. The sections include:
- Welcome to the Garden Classroom
- Introduction: Nurturing Young Gardeners which points out that the environment is the third teacher (Reggio Emilia philosophy), that the garden provides an ever-changing and varied curriculum as it evolves through the season, and that connection to nature is a gift. It also includes a section about organizing a garden classroom that I think would be helpful to classroom and homeschool teachers alike. A glossary of key gardening vocabulary is included in this section.
- Section One: Let’s Grow! Garden Basics includes five favorite plants to grow, a word about bees, planting seeds with suggestions for all kinds of seed pots, a project of “egg heads & tin can hair salon” , ideas for quirky ecoplanters, painted plant pots, grow your own meadow, cultivating a snipping garden, making plant labels, making a DIY watering can, making garden potions to help feed your crops, harvesting your own seeds, and a word about strawberries.
- Section Two: Play & Imagination. This section includes ideas about loose parts play and materials for your play space, how to build a fort, making a pretend-play pottery shed, having a mud-pie tea party, making a fairy garden, making a dinosaur world, making miniature gardens, creating garden sensory tubs, having a sensory treasure hunt, playdough in the garden, and snail races.
- Section Three: Reading & Writing brings ideas for the alphabet and words outside, using story tents and other literacy methods, writing a garden observation journal, creating a chalkboard observation station, creating a sensory word hunt, creating a nature treasure bag, telling stories (example given is Jack and the Beanstalk, but there are many tales that would fit the bill), using story stones, creating a gnome or fairy mail box.
- Section Four: Science & Math. Science in the garden can include soil testing, composting, use of magnifying glass or microscope, use of reference books (Note: In Waldorf Education, some of these things would be held until much later grades. We always start with naked eye observation and nature observations.) Ideas are given for math manipulatives from the garden, math games for the garden, a counting treasure hunt, addition and subtraction, and graphing. There is a section on creating an “investigation table”, a growing seed experiment, a minibeast bingo game, creating a bird cafe, looking a small garden creatures close up, creating a bug hotel, making a ladybug number line, the use of measurement through a one-yard leaf race, hosting a plant olympics (counting, measuring, weighing), making a sunflower height chart, making a symmetry butterfly, making a tree-trunk geoboard.
- Section Five: Arts & Crafts. This section includes making paint and paintbrushes from the garden, making natural plant dyes, making handprint sunflowers and cement-tile art, making garden buntings, finger knitting flowers, making leaf collages, making a daffodil bunting, (which I am so going to tie into our Feast of St. David of Wales in March!), making daffodil pinwheels, making large scale landscape art, making a spring flower bouquet. Other projects include making: sticky pictures, caterpillars, clothespin butterflies, clay leaf impressions, clay faces and creatures, land-art wreaths, land-art mandalas, and scarecrows.
- Section Six: Garden Recipes. This section includes notes on edible flowers, customized soup, basil pesto, and zucchini relish. Other ending notes include a form to create a garden journal, a list of blogs and websites, great books for children and adults.
I am happy to say that this book runs about eight to thirteen dollars, depending upon if you buy it used or new. I am happy to recommend this book to you all. Although this book is not aimed at Waldorf Education, I think it could be used for the Early Years, and grades one through three easily.
The next resource I had to order through inter-library loan and it came from another state. This book I cannot find anywhere under about thirty-five dollars. This book is “Math In The Garden”, but Jennifer White and published by the National Gardening Association. This book is more of an oversized paperback, with pencil drawings throughout. It is about 160 pages long.
This book includes an Introduction that explains how to look at each page of activities (for example, each activity denotes an age range, group size, what you need, getting ready . A lightning bug “illuminates” math concepts and skills featured, a hummingbird icon to point out notes for success in conducting the activities, a section for a databoard and what to put on it, and ideas for more math in the garden). Pages 9 and 10 denote activites by age (and for my Waldorf homeschoolers, these may or may not match what we do in Waldorf Education). The activities span age ranges 5-13, so essentially grades K-8 in a public school system. A section regarding making a garden journal is also included.
- Chapter One: Numbers, Operations, & Algebra. The activities include estimation and counting and comparing in “How Many Seeds in A Tomato?”, number sense/tally and number sequence in “Everything Counts In The Garden” (which also includes movement ideas for walking a numberline), coordinate grids and using a x and y axis in “Locating Garden Treasures” and “Inside the Coordinate Grid”, number sense and estimation with nonstandard measuring tools in “Comparing the Area of Leaves”, area and perimeter in “Area & Perimeter of Leaves”, measurement/dividing by increments of one-half in “Half of a Half of My Garden Plot”, ratios in “Ratios of Shoots and Roots”, fractional equivalents in “Soil Plus Water Profile”.
- Chapter Two: Measurement. This includes using hand spans, metric unit measuring, converting nonstandard units into standard units, measuring growth in the garden, measuring with steps (nonstandard measurment), using consistent nonstandard units of measurement, estimating and measuring volume, weighing garden harvest (consistent nonstandard units), and making a balance scale.
- Chapter Three: Geometry & Pattern includes exploring attributes of geometric shapes, using craft stick caliphers to record and compare angles, using radius, diameter and circumference of circles, exploring patterns, exploring symmetry and asymmetry, exploring bilateral symmetry, rotational symmetry, and asymmetry, drawing trees to look at proportions and identification of shapes and patterns.
- Chapter Four: Data Analysis. This includes collection and interpretation of data, including the meaning of range, sorting and classifying data, recording, organizing, and evaluating data, use of pattern recognition and proportional reasoning, using mathematical models to represent quantitative relationships (this one is found in the exercise “Self-Similarity”), linear measurements and graphing to compare changes over time.
I like this book as well. I think for Waldorf homeschoolers, we most likely would use this book most in third grade (measurement) and then onward.