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Lesson plans

Here are short descriptions and links to NDE lesson plans.

Some of the lessons may be used at different times of the year than suggested below.

Fall lessons

Fall is a great time to enjoy the last harvest from summer crops, a great time to plant cool season vegetables or to establish shrubs,trees, bulbs and wildflowers.  There are lots of opportunities for craft projects for seasonal decorations and gifts.

Garden tours, rules: Students are introduced to the garden sites and rules.  They can start garden maintenance, harvest summer crops or taste test what is growing.

Plant cool season seeds: Fall is the best time to plant cool season edible crops and flowers. Here are two links for fun ideas for seed packet projects; also search the internet for current project ideas. 

Seed packet template:

Creative seed packet ideas:

Plant a pack: Directions on how to plant small bedding plants like pansies and violas that we will press for spring craft activities.

Scarecrow building: How to build real straw scarecrows to place in the gardens.

Pumpkin tasting: Students learn about pumpkins and use pumpkins in applesauce, yogurt and juice.

Pumpkin pancakes: A cooking lesson using fresh or canned pumpkin. I created this lesson for Willett elementary and I also did the lesson once at NDE in kindergarten. It is more involved but quite do-able if you have the set-up for it.

Buried treasure: All about bulbs and bulb-like items that are planted in the fall for spring bloom.

Native wildflowers: Plant wildflower seeds for spring bloom; learn about wildflowers, invasive weeds, and local vernal pool habitats that feature native wildflowers.

Stems and wreaths: Make wreaths and garlands with grapevines, found greenery and decorations. Learn about stem structure in plants.


Winter lessons

Rain often moves in during this time of year so we shift garden activities to lessons that can be done when the soil is too wet to work in. 

Compost corners: Learn how to build a compost pile and use the finished compost in our garden beds.

Compost game: Reinforce compost lessons with this show and tell card game.

Worm winners: Learn how worms can be used to vermicompost food scraps and other items.

Herbsense sachets: Gather fragrant plants from the herbsense garden to make scented sachets.

Indoor seed start: Use special seed starting mix or peat pellet pots to start seeds for the warm season garden.

Cream cheese and anything! Spread crackers with a thin layer of cream cheese and let students stick on fresh produce from the gardens. Or students harvest and chop herbs, mix with cream cheese, and spread on bread or crackers.


Spring lessons

Spring is a good time to harvest and eat the maturing cool season edible crops. Spring flowers and bulbs should be blooming and can be used in flower part lessons. Seeds can be started indoors for warm season crops, and any plantings for the summer garden need to be started.

Flower and leaf pressing:  Use books and plant presses to flatten small leaves and pansy flowers to make into bookmarks, cards or melt and pour glycerin soaps.

Salad making: Gather greens, herbs and other veggies for a school-made fresh salad.

Good bugs: a lesson on beneficial insects.  Learn about and release ladybugs. 

Integrated pest management: Outline of activities that will get kids thinking of different ways to deal with insects and pests in the garden.

IPM Cartoons by Carolyn to go with the IPM lesson.

Dig your dirt: Learn about different soil types and about how to garden in our local clay soil.

Leaf and flower crafting: Directions for making bookmarks, cards and soaps as a surprise gift for Mothers Day.

Summer garden planting: Plant seeds or starts for warm-season crops like tomatoes, squash and corn.

This site provided with the assistance of the Davis Community Network.