School Garden Curriculum

Suggested Curriculum Resources

There is a wealth of school garden curriculum available today. Many teachers use a mix of curriculums to help guide their activities with students. Most curriculums can be easily adapted for Hawaii. As you work with students and faculty you will find the right projects, lessons, activities, and inspiration you need to create a unique school garden program for your particular school in Hawaii. Here are some of the best.

HCPS III Standards and Benchmarks

HCPS III identifies Standards and Benchmarks for all subject areas in grades K-8. Here are easy to use one-page sheets identifying Standards and Benchmarks by grade level, with room to identify ideas for lessons in the garden that would enhance learning in these core subjects.

Health Standards and Benchmarks K-8

Grades K-2
Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8

Science Standards and Benchmarks K-8
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8

Math Standards and Benchmarks K-8

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8

Master Gardener Program School Garden Resources
UH Mānoa - CTAHR
The Master Gardeners of UH Manoa have created a School Garden Resource Page outlining School Garden basic systems and resources needed for school gardens.

California School Garden Network Lessons and Curriculum
This is a searchable list of mostly free online resources where you can find lessons related to garden-based learning.

Best Practices in Middle School Gardens
California School Garden Network

The Hawai‘i Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA)
HEEA has an ongoing newsletter that features environmental education resources, grants for schools, and connects you to local environmental initiatives and events.

Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation
Resources for educators

Edible Education
This free online course from the University of California, Berkeley highlights 15 speakers who are leaders in the food industry. From farmers, congresswomen, and professors to ranchers, marketers and chefs, you'll learn about the history of food in America, the Farm Bill, sustainable farming, marketing food to children, and more. These are not lectures, but inspiring perspectives about reinventing the way we grow and eat food.

A Child’s Garden of Standards Linking School Gardens to California Education Standards

Grades Two Through Six California Department of Education, Sacramento, 2002

Dr. Watters, Professor at UH Mānoa Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science has created 8 lessons for grades 6-12 that combine Gardening, Nutrition, STEM and HCPS III.

Lesson 1: Sorbet
Lesson 2: Biodegradeable Plastic
Lesson 3: Soap Making
Lesson 4: Biodegradeable Ink
Lesson 5: Biofuel
Lesson 6: The Enigma of Light
Lesson 7: Earth Sciences and Hydroponics
Lesson 8 The Chemistry and Biology of Aquaponics

Cloud EfS Standards & Performance Indicators
The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education

How are we all going to live well within the means of nature?

Education for Sustainability
With the tremendous support of the Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Council, the P/NW BOCES Curriculum Center decided to undertake the development of a K-12 Education for Sustainability Curriculum in 2008. The Curriculum Center believed this curriculum project is timely, important and urgent and will prepare students for a democratic society, global economy and sustainable future.

Land of Plenty, Land of Want
A Lesson on Sustainable Agriculture for Grades 5-8 from SARE.
This lesson on sustainable agriculture gives students the oppportunity to view farming in four different countries: Zimbabwe, France, China and the United States.

Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth

North Central SARE Online Course/Curriculum
This guide to sustainable agriculture-oriented educational opportunities for schoolchildren features more than 50 programs and curricula nationwide, from “Growing Minds,” a program linking the garden and agriculture in Appalachia, to “French Fries and the Food System,” a year-round curriculum focusing on ways youth can better understand land and local food systems.

An Educator’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening

Oregon State University Extension Service
September 2011
by Weston Miller, Beret Halverson, and Gail Langellotto
This publication provides a basic introduction to growing produce in an outdoor garden and includes information on recommended plants and a garden calendar. Adapted for the Northwest.

A Handful of Seeds, Seed Saving Curriculum

Grade Level: K-6
This publication presents an introductory seed-saving curriculum linked to California Content Standards. It can be used in a school garden project, as a part of an environmental education program and in outdoor or indoor classrooms. The topic of seed saving is vast, and A Handful of Seeds is intended to be a starting point for delving more deeply into this rich and fascinating realm. No teacher could teach the entire contents in any given year, but the ideas and techniques contained in this guide are meant to stimulate educators to include seed-saving and stories about seeds in their indoor and outdoor classrooms.

Botany on Your Plate
Grade Level: K-4
This standards-based curriculum weaves together nutritional health, mathematics, language arts, and social studies with investigative science. Every lesson includes plant snacks that spark curiosity, interesting questions, and social dialogue to fuel the learning process. The inquiry-based approach engages children as botanists observing and collecting data, discussing findings, and reflecting on what they have learned.

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
Grade Level: K-12
This is a great site for free resources. There's a wide assortment of free downloadable lesson plans and projects by grade level. Although aligned to California DOE standards, it easily translates to Hawaii DOE standards.

California School Garden Network
Grade Level: K-12
This site's amazing curriculum section provides over one hundred garden-based lessons to create, expand, and sustain garden-based learning experiences. It offers practical ideas and resources for every level of garden-based learning from sprouting seeds to understanding the food system.

USDA Team Nutrition Garden Resources
Grade Level: K-12
The United States Department of Agriculture is offering these interactive and exploratory lessons as a creative way to connect gardens with nutrition messages in the classroom, cafeteria or lunch room, and at home.

Center for Ecoliteracy
CEL has developed an amazing selection of publications (see list below). CEL also offers a great list of publications and books for the school garden community including Big Ideas. Also several free downloadable publications.

Big Ideas: Linking Food, Culture, Health, and the Environment
Grade level: K-12
Big Ideas offers a conceptual framework for understanding the connections between food/health/environment/culture. Includes essential questions, sample activities, and key concepts drawn from the Benchmarks for Science Literacy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Food Inc., Teacher's Guide
Grade level: 6-12
This teacher's guide is a companion to the Academy Award-nominated documentary Food, Inc., which takes a critical look at the industrialization of our country's food supply.

Cooking with California Food
Grade level: K-12
Cooking with California Food introduces the concept of the dynamic 6-5-4 School Lunch Matrix, based on six dishes students know and love, five ethnic flavor profiles, and four seasons. It offers ideas for adding more fresh, local, healthy foods to school lunches; helps meal services devise an appealing variety of menus around dishes that children already prefer; honors California’s rich history and cultural heritage; and describes a tested plan for effective professional development for food services staff. Free downloadable guide.

Nourish Curriculum and How to Use Nourish in the Classroom
Grade level: 6-8
Download the free Nourish Curriculum Guide. Includes a viewing guide, six learning activities, action projects, glossary, and suggested resources. Aligns to national content standards for Social Science, Science, Health, and Language Arts.

Cornell School Garden
Grade level: 3-7
This is an excellent site providing educators with inspiring, research-based gardening resources and professional development to support engaging, empowering, and relevant learning experiences for children, youth, adults, and communities. The site includes a wide selection of free downloadable activities, projects, curriculum and ways to support garden programs.

Jr Master Gardener
Level One: Grades 3-5
Level Two: Grades 6-8

The Junior Master Gardener program engages children in novel, “hands-on” group and individual learning experiences that promote a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind. JMG encourages youths to be of service to others through service learning and leadership development projects and rewards them with certification.

Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation
Grade level: K-12
Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation has collected an impressive list of environmental education resources including:
• Green Teacher: A Resource for Comprehensive School Greening
• Curriculum: The Whole Plate – A Return to Real Food
• The Story of Stuff, A look at the dark underbelly of our production and consumption patterns
• Sustainability Curricula Directory
• Curriculum: Cool the Earth, A Ready-to-Run Free Nationwide K-8 Program

Life Lab
Grade Level: K-12
Award winning science & environmental education curricula and programs from UC Santa Cruz which help schools develop gardens where children can create "living laboratories" for the study of the natural world.

Local Area Nutrition Development - University of Hawai‘i Science Curriculum
Grade level: 6-8
STEM based curriculum for school gardens. A form must be completed and submitted to receive curriculum which includes a Teacher Resource manual, links to on-line print and video resources and student activity log sheets.

Mālama ʻĀina Foundation
Grade level: K-12 and college level
The Mālama ‘Āina Foundation is a curriculum development organization supported by the Consortium for Hawaiʻi Ecological Education (CHEE). The consortium has brought together various institutions to develop educational, project-based programs at all levels that would train Native Hawaiian and other students in the ecological sciences to become better stewards of Hawaiʻi’s unique environment. Read about projects that have been highly successful in encouraging students to study mathematical and scientific principles embedded in traditional Hawaiian environmental practices.

Malama I Ka ʻAina
Grade level: K-12
The purpose of Malama I Ka‘Aina is to develop and disseminate a K-12 science curriculum that is both standards based and culturally relevant to Hawaiʻi's students, especially of those of Hawaiian ancestry.

National Environmental Education Foundation
Grade level: K-12
This is a great resource for environmental education materials. It includes an impressive array of environmental studies, videos, quizzes and other interactive features.

The Pan American Foundation: Project Aloha ʻĀina - A Teacher's Guide to the Ahupuaʻa Grade level 3-7
This online curriculum source connects teachers to curriculum and lessons specifically for Hawai‘i. Topics include Grade 3-Wetlands, Grade 4-Our Ahupua‘a, Grade 5-Stream Life, Grade 6-Conservation (waste audit), and Grade 7-Coral Reefs.

Flowers, Plants, and Gardening: For Kids!
Includes information about Botany, Gardening and Horticulture, and Hydroponics.

All About Sustainable Gardening
Sustainability maintains ecological balance through utilizing natural resources without damaging the environment. Sustainable gardening applies the theory to growing fruits, vegetables, livestock feed crops and flowers.

National Farmers Union Education Materials
The National Farmers Union has written new curriculum for Grades 1-12 that is tied to different areas of the curriculum. The areas are Growing Good Taste, Leading by Serving, Planet Stewardship, Project Citizenship, and Eat Fresh, Buy Local.

School Garden State Standards & Curriculum
Alameda County Master Gardeners, University of California
This section contains a variety of resources that provide lesson plans linking curriculum to gardening activities and that correlate gardening activities to specific California educational standards.

A Field Guide to the New Nature Movement: Great Resources You Can Use
Many of us believe it’s time for a New Nature Movement, one that includes but goes beyond traditional environmentalism – one that connects children and adults to the natural world. Here are a few examples for how to apply the Nature Principle where we live, work, learn and play.

Project Aloha ‘Aina curriculum
Grade 4: Ahupua‘a
Produced by the PAcific American Foundation

Uses of Corn Poster
Center for Crops Utilization Research
Iowa State University

Climate Change in the Garden
Cornell Garden Based Learning

Garden-Themed Nutrition Education
Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables is a garden-themed nutrition education kit for child care center staff that introduces children to: three fruits - peaches, strawberries, and cantaloupe, and three vegetables - spinach, sweet potatoes, and crookneck squash.

Suggested School Garden Resources

A Child's Garden of Standards: Linking Standards to Garden Based Curriculum
California Department of Education
Grade level: 2-6
A guide to garden-based education using existing curricula in grades 2nd through 6th. It links activities selected from several published educational materials to specific academic content standards at each grade level in science, history/social sciences, mathematics, and English language arts. These varied publications, many already widely used and field-tested by teachers statewide, feature effective garden-based learning strategies. Download a PDF order form to purchase a hard copy or download a PDF version for free.

Agriculture in the Classroom
United States Department of Agriculture
This site is really great. Check out the Teacher Center which offers an extensive library of free downloadable lessons searchable by grade and subject. Lesson plans, STEM programs and projects. In the Resources section there are instructional units for Pre-K through 12th grades.

Green Teacher Magazine

Download a free issue here.

Growing Gardens
A comprehensive collection of resources for school garden programs. Topics include Starting and Maintaining School Gardens and Garden Based Curriculum.

Kids Garden Activity Cards
Ages: 8+
With 40 interactive activities and games divided into five categories, Kids' Garden encourages children to engage with the outdoors and appreciate the green world around them. Each double-sided card has step-by-step instructions with colorful collage artwork.

Kids Gardening Classroom Projects
A collection of garden based classroom projects. Each project includes curriculum connections.

Linking Gardens to Curriculum
An excellent resource for activities to link history-social science, English language arts, visual and performing arts, health and nutrition to garden based learning.

Our Growing Place
Our Growing Place is an easy to follow tool-kit for instructors with little or no experience in cooking or gardening. It is designed as a community based after-school and summer day camp program but can be adapted for use in school. It is designed for 3rd to 5th grade children but can be adapted for children older and younger. Also offers free videos of classroom lessons.

San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance
This site contains 22 sites with School Garden/Green Schoolyard related curriculum resources.

School Garden Weekly - Instructional Activities for School Gardens. Free, excellent resources including activities, video lessons, articles, and recipes.

USDA Ag Science Fair Project Ideas
There's a science fair project for students in every grade on this list. Included are Botany, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Health & Nutrition, Microbiology and Zoology project ideas.

Worksheet Place - Printable worksheets and booklets - elementary level.
This site contains free downloadable worksheets and booklets, including parts of a plant, parts of a flower, plant parts word find, and more.

Children and Nature Initiative
National Environmental Education Foundation
NEEF’s Children and Nature Initiative addresses two important issues—preventing serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes and reconnecting children to nature.

Saving Seeds with Farmers and Gardeners
The Seed Savers' Network was established in 1986 to preserve local varieties of useful plants by an French-Australian couple Jude and Michel Fanton. The organisation is known for its community seed action in thirty-seven countries within community groups, indigenous organisations, Transition Towns and also with interested individuals wanting to spearhead seed action. is a site for educational materials for school garden teachers including fruit posters, calendars, seasonal fruit guides and postcards.

Hawaiʻi County Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study 2012
Hawai‘i Geospatial Data Repository & Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Lab

The American Carbon Footprint:
Understanding and reducing your food's impact on climate change
Brighter Planet provides technology-driven climate change solutions that help people and businesses manage their environmental impacts. Its suite of innovative tools range from debit and credit cards that build renewable energy, to crowd-powered community climate projects, to a technology platform that integrates carbon emissions modeling with business operations.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook
54 winning recipes from America's Junior Chefs

Know your Farmer, Know your Food Compass

AOSCA Organic Seed Finder
The purpose of this website is to allow seed providers and their potential customers to find one another. The seed listings are dynamic and will change during the year to reflect new vendors and seed availability.

Eat Think Grow
EAT THINK GROW provides short-term and long-term support for school garden education and farm to school programs in the Pacific Northwest. However, the lessons can easily be modified to suit school gardens in Hawaii. They integrate garden education into the classroom, design garden beds and create annual and year around garden plans, train teachers, and regionalize the food in your cafeteria. This valuable site contains free, downloadable lesson plans for grades K-5.

Project Noah
Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.

USDA Resources for Farm to School Evaluation Tools
Measure your success! Your efforts have the ability to reach beyond the school cafeteria. Periodically evaluating the impact your Farm to School activities play on students, school food service, parents, teachers, school administrators, farmers and community members can show the growth of your efforts and help identify areas to improve or expand as you reach your Farm to School goals. This link has sample educational tools that include surveys which you may find helpful in evaluating your Farm to School activities.

How to Build a Keyhole Garden
A keyhole garden is the ultimate raised-bed planter. It is often built in the shape of a circle measuring about 6 feet in diameter that stands waist-high and is notched like a pie with a slice cut away. A hole in the center holds a composting basket that moistens and nourishes the soil. The garden, which from above looks like a keyhole, can be built with recycled materials and requires less water than a conventional garden.

Free Fruit & Vegetable Tasting Resources
Free fruit and vegetable tasting lessons from Cooking with Kids. Free bilingual fruit and vegetable tasting lessons provide opportunities for children to explore, learn about, and taste varieties of fruits and vegetables. Tasting lessons require no cooking and minimal food preparation.