with nets or put up a fake owl and see if
that stops them from pecking holes in
your berries. You can create a compost
pile and use it to enrich the soil. You can
raise worms and turn them loose in the
garden to aerate the soil, or you can let
your husband use a few of them for fishing. You can add in a carpentry project
by creating raised beds. The possibilities
Math has a place in the garden too.
Teach your children to measure the distance between the seeds they are planting, to read the charts that explain how
deep to plant various seeds, and to wisely
determine how far apart to make the
rows. Go to the seed store together and
weigh the amounts.
The garden can also
serve as a catalyst for
Even social studies can be learned
through gardening. The children can
learn about “climate zones” and what
they can and can’t grow where they live.
Can Grandma grow rhubarb because she
lives up north? Why can’t she get peanuts
to grow? Can you grow wonderful toma-toes but no carrots because your ground
is too much like clay instead of sand?
Throw in some related field trips to a
variety of climates, if possible. If travel
is prohibitive, perhaps there is a place
where the climates are simulated, such
as the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, where I grew up, which was an indoor facility where there were jungle and
desert environments. Better yet, travel
to a beach and check out the different
vegetation that is found as you move
through the marshy lowlands and emerge
into a sandy landscape.
Literature, art, and music can also be
related to a garden project. For small
children, read The Carrot Seed by Ruth
Krauss, and learn the song that goes with
it if you can find the tune. (Lyrics: “Oh,
carrots grow from carrot seeds, I’ll plant
a seed and grow it. I’ll water it and pull
the weeds . . . Carrots grow from carrot
seeds!” Make up your own tune if you
can’t find it anywhere!) Nonfiction books
by Millicent Selsam and others can be
interesting additions to your gardening
“curriculum.” Encourage the children
to write a poem or a short story about
a garden. Read good fiction books that
feature gardens. Some examples would
include The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beat-
rix Potter, Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson,
and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
They could also do some nonfiction writ-
ing about various garden topics or write
up science experiments they conduct in
. . . Learn your
lessons in the
and learn your lessons in the beautiful
outdoors! Keep a few records by writing
down your experiences in a journal, and
yes—of course you can call it schoolwork!
These are the types of experiences that
create long-term learning and precious
memories that will never fade!
Mary Hood, Ph.D., and her husband,
Roy, homeschooled their five children
since the early 1980s. All have successfully made the transition to adulthood.
Mary has a Ph.D. in education and is
the director of ARCHERS for the Lord,
Inc. (The Association of Relaxed Christian Home Educators). She is the author
of The Relaxed Home School, The Joyful Home Schooler, and other books,
and is available for speaking engagements. Contact her via her website, www