A lesson for every season. Sometimes it is hard to identify what lesson plan would best fit the needs of both the garden and the classroom curriculum. Below you will find a short description of all lesson plans that will help you decide which to choose. You may also narrow your search to lessons by season or crop.
  • (Winter Cooking Program) Food Journal – 3rd Grade

    This Food Journal is made to accompany our Winter Cooking Program. We’ve included a worksheet and recipe to correspond with each lesson pair in the Program. We hope this journal encourage students to document their learning and share it with their families. This Food Journal is designed for 3rd graders. Working with younger students? We also have a 1st grade Food Journal available.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Food Journal – 1st Grade

    This Food Journal is made to accompany our Winter Cooking Program. We’ve included a worksheet and recipe that corresponds to each lesson pair in the Program to help students document their learning and share it with their families. This Food Journal is designed for 1st Graders. Working with older students? We also have a 3rd Grade version available.

  • Needs of Seeds (Part 2-Plant Growth)

    This lesson plan picks up where Needs of Seeds (Part 1) leaves off. Students investigate the bean seed they planted the week prior, and explore what changed about their seeds and why. This lesson ends with students illustrating the growth of their beans and labeling the parts of the plant!

  • Parts of a Plant

    What are the different parts of a plant – and what do they do? Explore these questions with your students by dancing like a plant, completing a parts of the plant scavenger hunt and ending with a plant part salad! This lesson will help you teach plant growth science content in a fun, hands-on and delicious way.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Rice Noodle Salad- Cooking and Community

    In this lesson (2 of 2 in the Rice Noodle Salad series), students will be busy preparing the fresh ingredients for the salad including grating carrots, preparing cilantro and tearing lettuce. Class will end with all groups adding their ingredients to the and sampling the Japanese-inspired combination of rice (noodles) and vegetables.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Rice Noodle Salad – Food History

    In this Winter Cooking Program lesson (1 of 2 in the Rice Noodle Salad series), students will learn about the healthy Japanese diet, including rice and vegetables. The class will end with students sampling freshly cooked rice.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Tabbouleh – Cooking and Community

    This lesson (2 of 2 in the Tabbouleh series) teaches students how to make Tabbouleh salad! Students work in groups to prepare this healthy Middle Eastern dish together.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Tabbouleh – Food History

    Learn all about the ingredients in the most popular Middle Eastern salad – Tabbouleh! This lesson (1 of 2 in the Tabbouleh series) introduces students to the process of grinding wheat into flour and discusses the value of eating whole grains.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Groundnut Stew- Cooking and Community

    Students learn to make Groundnut Stew, an African recipe, during this lesson (2 of 2 in the Groundnut Stew series). They get to practice their nut-butter making skills as well as their oral tradition storytelling while the stew is simmering.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Groundnut Stew – Food History

    What in the world are Groundnuts?  Find out in this lesson (1 of 2 in the Groundnut Stew series) and learn about how they are a staple in the African diet. The lesson ends by sampling class-made nut-butter! (Spoiler alert: Peanut free option included.)

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Native Foods – Cooking and Community

    In this lesson (2 of 2 in the Native Foods series) , students make either a Three Sisters Soup or Three Sisters Saute to explore how corn, beans and squash were and are an important food combination for native people.

  • (Winter Cooking Program) Native Foods – Food History

    This lesson (part 1 of 2 in the Native Foods series) focuses on traditional and current diets of native peoples and includes a delicious elderberry ‘soda’ treat.

  • Winter Cooking Program – Intro Lesson

    This lesson introduces students to the Winter Cooking Program by making a simple and delicious Apple Carrot Salad.

  • Winter Cooking Program – Schedule and Overview

    Our Winter Cooking Program is designed to get elementary-aged students cooking and tasting fresh, culturally diverse foods with their classmates while also learning curriculum content. Check out the Winter Cooking Program – Schedule and Overview to learn more about how to use the program with your students!

  • Threshing and Winnowing Amaranth

    Threshing and winnowing are age-old practices that help farmers process raw grain crops into edible products. In this hands-on lesson, students will use many of their senses to process Amaranth grain, an ancient plant valuable to many cultures around the world.

  • Identifying Plants in the Garden

    Ever wonder how botanists know the names of so many plants? They spend time in nature practicing! This lesson introduces students to the ways in which adjectives can help identify the names of our favorites garden plants.

  • Identifying Insects (1)- Bug Guide

    In this lesson, the first of two Insect Identification lessons, students will learn how to correctly ID insects they find in the garden with the help of a simple bug guide. If students feel comfortable with this, they could move onto our ‘Insect Identification (2) – Pest and Beneficial’ lesson!

  • Determine Timing of Plantings

    This early spring lesson chooses a “Spring Salad Day” late in the school year, and asks students to work backwards to figure out what to plant and when to plant it in order to have a great salad on their chosen day.

  • Making Popcorn & Butter

    This lesson explores food transformations – there’s science in our food! Students will remove kernels from ears of corn and shake up heavy whipping cream to make butter. All will then listen for the “pops” as the corn heats in oil over the stove. Class ends with a popcorn and butter snack.

  • Start a Worm Bin

    Worms are a gardener’s best friends. This lesson involves students in the process of creating a worm bin -an indoor compost system! The bin can then be kept in the classroom to munch on leftover lunch scraps and serve as a wiggly educational example of decomposition.

  • Installing Irrigation & Mulch

    As the temperatures grow warmer, the student-farmers will learn all about the need for moisture retention in the garden. In this lesson, students will create an irrigation system and use mulch to keep the soil moist in the tomato bed.

  • From Wheat to Bread

    Where does bread come from? In this lesson, students will read “Bread is for Eating” and learn about growing wheat and processing it into bread. Students will also grind wheat into flour, write about their favorite wheat-based food and taste a sample of bread with jam!

  • Pruning Tomatoes

    In order to produce abundant, high-quality fruit (tomatoes!) we must prune our tomato plants. Students will learn how and why pruning is important by practicing on the tomato plants in their garden.

  • Making Scape Pesto

    This lesson includes harvesting, chopping and crushing garlic scapes to make delicious garlic scape pesto – a full sensory experience and a mini cooking lesson all rolled into one.

  • Planting Three Sisters Beans

    The third of the Three Sisters crops is beans. Students will find the corn and squash (planted in prior weeks) in their garden bed, then look at the planting diagram to identify the proper location for the last of the sisters. As a class, students will plant and water the bean seeds, then watch them grow with the corn and squash in the coming weeks and months.

  • Companion Planting- Tomatoes

    Tomatoes, Basil and Nasturtium grow well when planted together – not to mention taste delicious when eaten together. In this lesson, students will identify the correct bed and spacing within the bed, then transplant these three companion crops.

  • Companion Planting- Flowers

    Amaranth, Sunflower and Borage are three flowers that grow well together and repel pests throughout the season for one another. What a great team! In this lesson students will help to locate the correct bed, measure out spacing and transplant these flowers into the soil.

  • Companion Planting – Peppers

    Students will learn how “companions” are not only human relationships – some crops grow well together and are called “companion plants”! During this lesson, students will plant peppers, marigolds and parsley together and learn why they grow best in combination.

  • Planting Three Sisters Squash

    Students will plant the second of the Three Sisters during this lesson – squash! Work will focus on identifying the sprouting corn plants (the first “sisters”), weeding around the corn, preparing the soil and consulting our Three Sisters planting diagram before planting and watering our squash seeds.

  • Making Salad

    Every good farmer likes to eat. In this lesson, students will taste the value of hard work as they harvest, clean, mix and eat school-grown salad with turnips, lettuce and sugar snap peas.

  • Fertilizing Transplants – Tomatoes

    Students will use a map to find the tomato bed, then learn how to transplant a seedling by identifying the necessary spacing, digging the correct size hole, gently placing the seedling in the soil, and watering the young plant into its new home.

  • Fertilizing Transplants – Peppers

    Students will use a map to find the pepper bed, then learn how to transplant a seedling by identifying the necessary spacing, digging the correct size hole, gently placing the seedling in the soil, and watering the young plant into its new home.

  • Preparing to Transplant

    During the course of this lesson, students will explore the ways in which indoor and outdoor growing climates differ as they prepare to “harden off” their seedlings. They will also make and add Compost Tea to their seedlings to give them a great start to their life!

  • Planting Three Sisters Corn

    This lesson introduces students the Three Sisters, a Native American planting trio of corn, beans and squash. Students will take part in measuring out corn spacing, making mounds for the seeds, planting and watering the first of the “sisters”. Beans and squash will be planted in subsequent weeks.

  • Turning Under Cover Crop

    In this lesson, students will count the weeks the cover crop has been growing, measure how tall it has grown and “turn it under”, incorporating the nitrogen-rich plant matter into the soil for the benefit of future crops.

  • Planting Wheat

    Students will learn about domestication and the process of using a warren hoe to make a furrow in this lesson. By the end of class, students will also have planted and watered wheat seeds in the garden.

  • Thin Turnips, Braise with Spinach

    During this time of the growing season, it’s a good idea to pull out weaker plants to create room for strong ones to grow. Students will help to thin spinach and turnips, then braising these vegetables to create a light snack.

  • Dissecting Flowers

    Each part of a flower plays an important role in its growth and development. Students will dissect a flower to discover this for themselves, and create a flower-part booklet to document their findings.

  • Starting Sweet Potato Slips

    Not all plants grow from seeds! Removing a side shoot from a mature sweet potato plant, students will help to create a “slip”, placing the shoot in water to grow a new seedling sweet potato to plant in the garden.

  • Identifying Insects (2)– Pests & Beneficials

    This is a great follow up to our ‘Identifying Insects (1) – Bug Guide’ lesson. Students will learn the ways insects help and harm our garden and work as their own ecosystem – and even look at both pests and beneficials up close!

  • Honeybees

    This lesson provides an overview of the busy life a honeybee. Students will see photos of the life cycle, try out the “waggle” dance, draw a picture of what it looks like inside a hive and enjoy a honey sample.

  • Seed Starting – Tomatoes

    This lesson, like the above in process, teaches students to make a newspaper pot, fill with soil and plant tomato seeds to be germinated in the classroom.

  • Seed Starting – Amaranth

    During this lesson, students will make their own newspaper pot (planter), fill it with soil and plant amaranth and/or marigold seeds as we discuss and explore the idea of starting seeds indoors.

  • Weeding Our Garden

    This lesson will introduce students to weed identification and proven removal techniques in the best way – hands-on!

  • Planting Turnips, Using Row Cover

    Safe tool use and teamwork will be practiced during this lesson as students prepare the soil and then plant Turnip seeds. After planting, students will learn how using row cover protects the seeds from cold and pests during the first few weeks in the ground.

  • Spring Scavenger Hunt

    This interactive lesson puts spring plant, pest and disease identification in the hands – and eyes! – of the students. Each will receive a magnifying glass to investigate, draw and describe 3 different crops in garden journals. Class will end with students helping to label spring crops with garden signs.

  • All Food Begins with a Plant

    This lesson focuses on tracing all the food student’s have eaten that day back to the plant (or plants!) it was created from. Real and processed food products (such as Colby cheese and Cheez Whiz) will be compared side by side. Students will also “deconstruct a pizza” to figure out just how many plants are packed into their pie.

  • Row Seeding Lettuce

    During this hands-on lesson, students cultivate the soil and plant lettuce. Students will learn how to follow and write careful step-by-step instructions and will discuss the differences between conventional and small scale sustainable agriculture in simple tasks like seeding crops.

  • Using Tools to Till Our Soil

    In this second safe tool-use lesson, students will learn how to properly use a few more garden tools to till up soil. One the garden bed soil is loose and aerated; students will add compost to the mix and discuss the importance of loose, healthy soil for spring plant germination and growth.

  • Safe Tool Use & Soil Aeration

    In this first spring lesson, students will get outside and learn the names and proper uses of a few garden tools. Then, students will till up and “aerate” the soil in a few garden beds in preparation for spring plantings.

  • Rocks & Minerals

    In this in-depth soil lesson, students will dig up soil samples from a few locations in and around the garden and then shake them up with water in a mason jar. After the sand, silt and clay settle out, students will compare/contrast the stratified layers in the jars noting similarities and differences in composition.

  • Worm Composting

    In this lesson, students “adopt a worm” for the class period as they learn about how worms are wonderful decomposers. Students will replicate their own worm bin on a sheet of paper as they draw their worm, some vegetables, straw and a bit of water and consider how vermicomposting is much like the big compost bin outside!

  • Growing Mushrooms

    The classroom closet (or other dark space) becomes much like the forest-floor growing environment in this lesson. Students will explore how mushrooms are decomposers that grow in damp, dark environments from spores using the class’s own oyster mushroom growing kit!

  • Compost Relay

    What’s Compost? In this lesson, students will actively add “greens”, “browns”, “air” and “water” to their team’s very own compost pile. Students will learn how old, unwanted plant material decomposes into rich soil with time, moisture, microorganisms and a little mixing.

  • A Farmer Builds the Soil

    This lesson introduces students to the science and composition of soil. Students will “build” their own soil ingredient by ingredient and discover and compare homemade soil to nature-made soil. The class will then discuss the ways in which soil contributes to the health and structure of all plants.

  • Tiny Gardens, Giant Farmers

    Every plant in our garden needs sunlight. In this lesson, students will use paper replicas of crops and a flashlight to think through where each crop should be planted in order to get the sunlight it needs to thrive.

  • Seed Quantity

    Using tape to create life-size garden beds in the classroom, students will figure out how many seeds they need to order to fill their beds. Measurement, sharing and multiplication will come in handy during this lesson!

  • Pruning Raspberries

    Pruning is important for many plants. In this lesson, students will learn how and why we prune raspberries, then practice on the school’s own raspberry bed in preparation for the spring’s delicious crop.

  • Plant Spacing

    In this lesson, students will use poster-board cutouts of full-size plants in a “garden bed” (created out of tape on the classroom floor) to help visualize just how much space to leave between our seeds as we plant this spring.

  • Plant Families

    Beginning by looking at, touching and providing adjectives for a variety of seeds, students will be introduced to the concept of “plant families.” Students will then learn that each plant family has recognizable traits and specific needs.

  • What Grows Here?

    Why can’t we grow oranges in Pittsburgh? Students will discover how temperate and tropical zones on the earth correspond with different crop growing climates. They will then learn where their favorite fruits and vegetables grow best – and why.

  • Needs of a Seeds (Part 1)

    Explore plant growth and the needs of seeds through this hands-on lesson pair. During this lesson (the first of the pair), students explore the inside of a seed and learn all about germination. The lesson ends with students planting their own seeds to watch grow into baby plants over the coming week(s). Needs of Seeds (Part 2-Plant Growth) picks up where this lesson leaves off.

  • Creating a Garden Schedule

    This lesson will begin with students dreaming of eating their ideal spring salad by the last day of school. Working backward from that date, students will consider how long plants take to grow and which crops can grow in cooler spring temperatures in order to plan a garden planting schedule for the school!

  • Removing Fall Crops

    This lesson will encourage students to clean up the garden and “put it to bed” for the winter. By removing dead plants, students are decreasing places for pests to hide out over the winter and therefore decreasing next year’s overall pest population.

  • Making Applesauce

    Heating food changes flavor and texture. In this lesson, students will taste apples before and after they are cooked to compare and contrast the flavor. Students will participate in making the applesauce as they discuss the science behind the process.

  • Freezing Broccoli

    In this winter lesson, students will learn how to take fresh broccoli and prepare it for freezing. Students will learn how enzymes, time and temperate affect food – and how we can preserve food for later consumption.

  • Making Ice Cream

    Students will understand how cold temperatures transform the ice cream ingredients from one physical state to another and how temperature energy (hot and cold) is exchanged between bags during the ice cream making process. Then, they will snack on their cold treat!

  • Making Cheese

    In this Farmer’s Cheese-making lesson, students will: practice reading a recipe, work as a team and practice table manners such as grace and courtesy. The end product will include polite students eating “classmade” cheese in table groups.

  • Baking in a Solar Oven

    In this lesson, students will participate in cooking winter squash in a solar oven. Students will discuss how we can use the sun’s energy to cook food – and in this case, change starches into sugars. Once the squash has cooked, students will taste the sun-cooked treat.

  • Planting Fall Bulbs

    Students will learn about fall Tulip and Garlic blubs in this lesson. They will explore the cloves inside the garlic bulb, plant cloves 6 inches apart and help to gather leaves to spread as mulch to help keep the bulbs over the winter.

  • Making Coleslaw

    Together, the class will harvest cabbage and carrots in the garden. Students will help to clean the vegetables and then chop up ingredients to make coleslaw. The class will enjoy their snack at the end of the lesson!

  • Migration & Hibernation

    This lesson focuses on how animals sense winter coming and take actions to stay alive during the coldest months of the year. Students will dig for hibernating earthworms and look for migrating birds with binoculars.

  • Lifecycle of a Plant

    Students will make a small book about the many stages of a plant’s life. To reiterate the lesson content and release a bit of energy, students will learn the Lifecycle of a Plant Dance.

  • Making Tea

    In this herb lesson, students will follow tea from plant to cup. We will harvest mint together and then brew some delicious tea to share while discussing how herbs add flavor to our food.

  • Measuring Sun Position: Yearly Change

    In this lesson, students will consult and use data collected about changing sun positions throughout the year. They will discuss the relationship between the angle of the sun and the seasons.

  • Threshing, Winnowing & Grinding Wheat

    Students will take previously harvested, now-dry wheat and remove the seed heads from the stem. We will then explore a variety of flours made from different grains. Last, students will work together to grind the class’s wheat into flour.

  • Drying: Tomatoes and Peppers

    During this lesson, students harvest tomatoes and peppers from the garden and learn that removing moisture from food helps to preserve it for a longer period of time. Two techniques – sun-drying and food dehydration – will be explored.

  • Pickling Fall Crops

    Learn how to preserve fall crops through windowsill fermentation! In this lesson, students will help to create delicious class-made pickles from green tomatoes, dill, beets and/or cauliflower. Two weeks later, the pickles will be ready to taste as a class.

  • Overwintering Spinach

    This lesson introduces students to cold-tolerant plants such as spinach that can be planted in the fall and survive throughout the winter. Students will work together to create rows, plant seeds and water.

  • Charting Seasonal Change

    Create three different graphs to chart temperature change, sun angle and day length. Learn how these factors effect what crops we can plant and when we can plant them during the year.

  • Harvesting Wheat

    In this lesson students will harvest wheat and allow it to dry. We will also explore the history of wheat from hunter-gatherer societies through domestication to modern staple food-crop.

  • Broadcasting Cover Crop

    Students will pull out summer crops and plant cover crop in their place. Then they will consider how these practices stop the spread of pests and disease and restore fertility to the soil.

  • Saving Seeds

    During this lesson, students are introduced to the agricultural benefits and cultural importance of seed saving. They will learn how to identify desirable traits in a plant and try a few different methods for collecting and processing seeds.

  • Tasting Apples

    In this lesson students will select a few common characteristics of apples. Then complete a grid, rating the strength of each of those characteristics in three different apple varieties.

  • Harvesting Produce

    Learn how to use a spading fork, pruning shears, and your own hands to harvest fall crops such as tomatoes, carrots, and squash. We’ll also practice cleaning and storing produce properly.

  • Fall Scavenger Hunt

    Where’s the compost bin? And where do we keep the tools? In this lesson, we’ll follow a map through ten stations and learn a little about the fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs around us.