“I feel that your program tremendously enhances the education that the children of Loveland (including my children) receive and as a parent value your program immensely.” Wendy Ray

You are the leader during garden class time.

  • In the garden class, the Class Garden Educator teaches the lesson and leads the class in the related activity.  The classroom teacher is required to be present, but is there to assist you and help manage the class.  Make a plan to include the teacher.
  • We love when family members are involved.  Garden volunteers allow the Garden Educator to plan for smaller groups during the activity and to have help with set up and clean up.  The classroom teacher will recruit volunteers.

We make it simple to teach a garden class.

  • Granny’s Garden School provides a calendar of lessons and activities that are curriculum-focused by grade and, whenever possible, timed to occur when the subject matter is taught in the classroom.  The calendar and lessons are available on the website.
  • Garden Educators attend training regularly about upcoming lessons and activities to understand the focus of the lessons and the flow of the activity.

You are assigned a schedule of classes for the school year.

  • Participation by classroom teachers is voluntary.
  • Teachers sign up for a day and time to participate weekly or bi-weekly during the growing seasons of late summer/early fall and spring.  A Garden Educator is assigned to the class for the school year.

Communicate with your teacher and volunteers weekly.

  • Classroom teachers appreciate knowing what is coming up, so Garden Educators keep in touch with assigned teachers and classroom volunteers to let them know what is coming up each week.
  • This is a good time to ask the teacher to have students prepared to bring any supplies, like pencils, scissors, or clipboards from the classroom (if the teacher supplies them).
  • Explain the role of volunteers and when and where to meet to discuss their role.
  • Let the teacher know where you will meet.  Will you have the class meet you in a garden area or will you go to the classroom first?

All lesson materials and supplies are provided for the Garden Educator to prepare and set up for the garden class.

  • Before your class, read through the  lesson. Ask questions if you aren’t sure about something in the activity.
  • Check the garden area you will use for the class to see if there is a point of interest to share with the students.
  • Take needed tools and supplies to the location of the activity before the class comes out.
  • Many lessons have a student worksheet.  Worksheets are used as part of the educational experience and to let families know what their child experienced and how family members can become involved in the garden class.

You must sign in as a school visitor before working in the gardens.

  • You will be wearing your garden apron and name badge, but the schools require you to sign in.

Managing the  Class

  • Before going out, explain the garden rules.  Reminders of garden rules are often needed early in the season with younger students.
  • If you’re using a tool that day, explain the safe way to handle and use the tool.
  • Ask open-ended questions. These will show you the class’s level of knowledge about the topic and generate interest.
  • Remind students to use “inside voices” when they are in the garden.  Many gardens are near classrooms.  Plus, low voices help students to hear better.
  • Talk to the teacher about the method she/he uses to redirect the students’ attention or use your own signal for quiet.
  • Sometimes a whisper is better than a shout.
  • If you feel you have lost control, stop.  Do not try to continue to teach.   Use your signal for quiet, or let the teacher get students’ attention.

Flexibility Helps

  • Watch for a “teachable moment” – often the students will find them first!
  • Appease the children’s curiosity when possible.  If you find a caterpillar, point it out, and then go back to  the planned activity.
  • Be prepared for some bad weather.  Find out in advance your teacher’s preference for rainy days.  Most teachers like to continue with an inside activity, though others prefer to cancel.  Some of the scheduled activities can be done inside, plus ideas can be found in lessons and by talking to other garden educators.  Be aware that most inside activities require advance planning.
  • If you have “crop failure,” don’t worry about it.  Turn that into a teachable moment.  If your spinach doesn’t come up, ask the students what could have happened.
    • Ask how farmers and consumers are affected if this happens to farmers.
    • If insects are eating your plants, ask students about food chains/webs.  See if they can find the culprit.
    • Split what you are able to harvest into small, single samplings.