10 Creative Ways to Teach Gardening in Your Homeschool
You probably have your homeschool curriculum chosen for this year. You surely know what core subjects you want to teach, when, and how. You even have your morning homeschool basket ready for the first month. Still, do you feel like something is missing? Something creative, practical, and good for the planet?
What about a homeschool garden?
You might have learned to appreciate contact with nature more after the Covid lockdowns. Now you’re ready to teach it to your kids.
Adding gardening lesson plans to your homeschool schedule can bring some unexpected joy for the whole family and many other benefits.
I’ll spill the beans about why you should have a homeschool garden and how to teach gardening to kids of different ages. And you don’t need a garden, not even a yard! Ready?
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Benefits of Working with Plants
Gardening is great and beneficial for kids. It can be taught from kindergarten through high school and be equally enjoyable and profitable.
If you start gardening with preschool kids, you’ll stimulate all their senses. They can play with the dirt, smell flowers, taste fruits and vegetables, and listen to the sounds of birds and insects. It also sharpens their fine motor skills which is beneficial for their handwriting practice later on.
Gardening curriculum for elementary school lets you teach science and math in a fun and practical way. You can also teach botany, chemistry, biology, and even economics if you choose to sell the produce at the local farmers’ market.
Having a homeschool garden teaches responsibility—the plants need daily watering and other care. Your child will also be exposed to practicing patience, since nothing happens overnight in a garden!
You’ll also be working together on healthy eating habits as you inspire your child to eat the very vegetables they helped to plant and bring to fruit. And you too!
Gardening together strengthens family bonds and lets you spend quality time with your child.
And last but not least, it teaches them to take care of the planet!
10 Ideas to Teach Gardening
Let me show you some ideas on how to homeschool gardening. You’ll find something for kindergarten and elementary kids but also for older students.
Taking care of your homeschool garden can be a great idea for your morning time routine, and can develop into longer projects and even lifetime passions.
1. Grow a Bean Plant
An easy way to show a plant’s growth to the smallest is by growing beans. I’m sure you have done this simple experiment at some point in your own educational journey.
You just need a bigger glass, cotton wool, and bean seeds.
You can use this lesson plan by Britishcouncil.org for a whole growing bean plant experience.
2. What Does a Plant Need?
This is another experiment that will lay a strong gardening foundation. You can do it with little kids but it’s also appropriate for early elementary.
Grownups know that plants need both water and light to grow. But kids don’t. It’s one of these pieces of information that we find so obvious that we forget that we learned them too at some point.
You’ll need 3 pots with the same type of plant. Your kid will put one in a light place and water it. The second one will be placed in a light place too but will get no water. Plant 3 will get water but will be covered with a box. The only plant that will grow is the first one.
With early elementary kids, you can teach the scientific method with this experiment, and make them write their hypothesis and the concept of a variable.
For more homeschool science ideas, check out The Ultimate Resource to Homeschooling Science K-12
3. Kitchen Herbs
Kitchen herbs are easy to get and grow. To start with, you can buy some small ones even in a local supermarket and have your kid take care of them. It’s a good idea to include more meals with the kind of herbs you’ll have on your windowsill and ask your kid to cut the amount you need for cooking.
You can play games with your preschooler by having them smell or taste the herbs and guess their names.
4. Plant Growing Kits
Kids gardening sets are the first step to a serious homeschool garden. They are fun and educational and are ready-to-use saving you lots of shopping, planning, and prepping time.
I would first start with vegetable seeds as it’s very satisfactory for a child to grow their own food. The Hortiki Plants Kis Organic Garden Kit includes a lettuce blend, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.
5. Working with Seeds
Although it’s easier to grow a homeschool garden with seedlings, you should teach your kid the whole process at some point.
As my husband is Mexican, we have a whole chili plant collection started from seeds of plants we bought and ate.
A chili seed takes about one week to start growing after you plant it in a small container and grows incredibly fast. You can have your first chilies after about 4 months, depending on your climate.
6. Water Erosion Experiment
It’s important to teach your kid that plants are not only beautiful and yummy but they’re also essential to our ecosystems.
The vegetation covering the soil is important as it prevents soil erosion. If you live next to the coast you know what I mean.
Read here what you need to conduct the experiment and how to do it.
7. Learn Composting
Adding composting activities to your homeschool curriculum will not only teach important gardening skills to your child but will also help your plants grow and reduce your household waste. And you can do it in your kitchen!
All you need is an indoor compost bin, some soil, and compostable materials. Teach them to put apple cores, banana peels, and eggshells into the compost before putting the dishes in the dishwasher.
You can start with an Educational Insights See-Through Compost Container to make it funnier for the smallest ones.
8. Books About Gardening
If your kids love to read, it’s a good idea to add gardening books to your homeschool morning basket. They can accompany any activity you’re currently doing together or simply widen their gardening horizons.
My favorite picks:
- From Seed to Plant, by Gail Gibbons
- The Tiny Seed: With seeded paper to grow your own flowers!, by Eric Carle
- National Geographic Readers: Seed to Plant, by Kristin Rattini
- Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner
- A Green Kid’s Guide to Composting (A Green Kid’s Guide to Gardening!), by Richard Lay
- The Best-Ever Step-by-Step Kid’s First Gardening, by Jenny Hendy
- Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide, by Emma and Steven Biggs
9. YouTube Channels About Gardening
If your kids are more visual learners, watch with them Gardening YouTube channels for children.
My daughters like Kids Gardening and Learn to Grow that focus specifically on gardening skills but you can find a YouTube video on absolutely everything related to gardening. SciShow Kids channel has a video on composting, how seeds become plants, wonderful worms, and many others.
Keep a Gardening Journal
Even a 3-year-old kid can start with a gardening journal. They can draw and color bugs, critters, and plants, and draw plants from seeds to harvest.
Older kids can write down their observations, write hypotheses, describe experiments and report the results. It’s a great start for a scientific journal later on.
For high school students, you can get a proper gardener’s logbook and make them step on a professional level.
Add Gardening to Your Homeschool Schedule
No matter if you want to start a proper homeschool garden, or just teach some natural plant cycles, there are plenty of materials that will guide you through the process. And I’m sure that together with your child you’ll not only plant fruit and vegetables but also cultivate valuable memories.
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