very young children
sometimes just means
. . . turning empty
seed packets into
treasure maps, garden
;ags, and sleeping
bags for pet rocks.
other compost materials, and of course
;ese raised garden beds provide so
many advantages for the kids. ;e boxes
clearly de;ne each personal space and
are easier to weed, but more importantly,
they generate fewer weeds because the
boards create a natural barrier between
the mini garden and the volunteer plants
that try to creep right along and snuggle
in with the produce.
;e planting choices of each child articulate so well their personalities that
it is like looking into a window to their
hearts. My oldest son is extremely conscious of family, and his garden box re;ects that. He planted kohlrabi because
it is his father’s favorite, onions from the
seeds of his grandmother’s plants, and
Brussels sprouts because he heard tales
of woe and giggles about his aunt detesting them at the dinner table when she
was a child.
My daughter, a thoughtful and practical child, planted lettuce for our family, as
salad is a regular menu item in our home.
;e garden box of my middle son has a
little bit of a lot of things, much like his
coveted storage box under his bed, and
he has also decided to donate some of his
produce to a local food shelf. ;en there
is my dear, young, artistic child who sees
the world through what must be mesmerizing lenses and therefore planted
white pumpkins—simply because they
One of the most rewarding bene;ts of
gardening with children is growing their
pallets for healthy food choices. My children have repeatedly tried new foods,
only because they were more excited
about the growing and harvesting than
they were hesitant about the new textures and tastes. ;e kids are conscious
;e Secret Garden
;is classic story written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Sandra M. Gilbert is
a tale of children who discover the joys of friendship, the pain of loss, and the
de;nition of family amid the secret paths and branches of a hidden garden.
Unit Study Ideas for ;e Secret Garden
have and to keep a secret. Age-appro-
priate discussions might include top-
ics such as the di;erences between fun
secrets for birthday gi;s and secrets
that might be harmful or dangerous.
secret gardens. Give each child a pot
to ;ll with soil and an assortment of
seed packets from which to choose
(out of sight from the other children). Each child can plant the seeds,
care for them, and then see if family
and friends can guess which types
of seeds are growing in their pots by
the look of the seedlings emerging.
See if their guesses change as the true
leaves begin to form and telltale signs
of plant types emerge. ;is is a great
lesson for practicing the idea of a hypothesis, with each child recording
his own observations and checking to
see if his hypotheses are correct.
• Use paper cups or small pots and
have your children prepare Garden
Gi;s (the kids can decorate the cups
with stickers or markers). Add dirt
and choose the seeds of small, yet
hardy, ;owers to add to the mix.
Place plastic wrap over the top of
the cup and secure with a rubber
band. Have the kids prepare a note
explaining that they are sharing the
joy of gardening through these Garden Gi;s, and all that is needed is to
add water, sun, and attention. ;ese
make great holiday gi;s or special
tokens of appreciation.
•;After;reading;the;book;either;inde-pendently or as a group, watch the
movie and discuss observations
about the di;erences, similarities,
and opinions of each version.
and aware of the varieties of items in the
produce aisles and at farmers markets
and how they might have been grown, as
well as why living in Minnesota does not
allow us to produce wonderful mangoes
in the backyard.
Four garden boxes have turned into almost a dozen, one of them constructed
in secret by my children and presented to
me as a gi;. Homeschooling and gardening are intertwined in our lives, and the
parallels are innumerous. Each homeschool, like each garden, is unique in size
and vision. Our homeschools require
diligence and energy, and our children
re;ect the attention we provide in their
education and formation. If we don’t put
in the time and persevere, rarely will our
children grow well without us.
Just as we fertilize our gardens with
compost and other materials, we provide
our children with the nutrients of faith,
love, patience, and the tools with which
they can succeed. And like those garden
boxes, our homeschools o;er our chil-
dren their own personal space in which
to bloom, protected from intrusions, yet
allowing their own abilities and passions
room to grow.
One of the most
rewarding bene;ts of
gardening with children
is growing their pallets
for healthy food choices.
My homeschooling adventure would
simply not be as enriched or rewarding without gardening, whether it is in
the fruit and vegetable gardens with my
children’s boxes or my ;ower beds, where
the children skip through to admire but-ter;ies and my lesser favorite, snakes.