In many parts of the country the school year is starting back up with some significant differences from past years. Many districts are engaging students in fully remote learning, some are embracing hybrid models that mix in-person instruction with distance teaching, and others have fully opened. No matter what situation you’re in and whether you’re a teaching or an at home caregiver, there are plenty of resources available to help you tackle garden-based learning in safe and meaningful ways this fall:
Lessons to Grow By is a FREE four-month KidsGardening program of weekly garden-themed lessons and activities for parents teaching at home, or for educators instructing via distance learning. These fun, engaging adventures are grouped around a monthly theme, featuring three hands-on activities for kids each week with supplemental suggested reading, videos, and more. Lessons to Grow By is aimed at learners in grades 3-5, but the activities can easily be adapted for younger or older audiences. Lessons to Grow By launches August 31 and is only available by subscription (see link above to sign up and gain access to these special learn-from-home lessons)
Edible Education for the Home Classroom is a collection of lessons from the Edible Schoolyard that can easily be done at home. Many of their activities extend beyond the garden to the dinner plate, which means you’ll find recipes and guided reflections on mindful eating alongside germination experiments. Lessons are categorized based on central themes including imagine, create, support, learn, connect, and reflection.
SGSO Webinars and Virtual Gatherings will allow you to hear from experts in the field or engage in peer to peer networking through an entirely online series hosted by the School Garden Support Organization Network. The fall series kicked off yesterday with a Virtual Gathering on garden care and management during Covid-19 (you should be able to find a recording of this event, along with past webinars and virtual gatherings in the extensive SGSO Archive). Future topics include distance teaching/learning, Covid-friendly outdoor classroom infrastructure, using your school garden to support food relief, and more.
A Guidance Template for Gardening during Covid-19 created by the University of Minnesota Extension provides best practices for minimizing risk while working in a garden space. Originally created for community gardens, this template has sections that are most definitely applicable for schools interested in thinking critically about sanitation and safe social distancing protocols.
Green Schoolyards of America’s Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Page serves as a compilation of resources to help teachers and administrators creatively and realistically navigate repurposing outdoor spaces as classrooms. Many of the resources listed here are not specially focused on school gardens, because the truth is you don’t need a growing space to have an outdoor classroom or to teach outside. That being said, many of the tips and strategies recommended by Green Schoolyards of America and their working groups are relevant to folks invested in school garden programming and infrastructure.