Learning Garden Project

Spreading our roots

The Vision

Imagine a schoolyard garden that students and faculty show off with pride, not only because of its beauty but because it enables a whole new set of learning experiences for students.

We can make this vision a reality for Elkhart Community Schools. A curriculum-based school garden will serve as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom for subjects across the curriculum right in their own schoolyard. Elkhart Community Schools are attended by children from many ethnic backgrounds, each with distinctive cultural traditions. We would like to celebrate the rich diversity in our schools by creating a garden that brings students together to learn about plants from all over the world. In the process, they can participate in activities that increase science knowledge, sharpen math skills, spur literacy and support lessons in geography, writing, and social studies.

About the Project

The Learning Garden Project proposes the planning, building, and sustaining of a curriculum-based learning garden at each of Elkhart Community Schools’ two elementary buildings. Working together, EEF, students, teachers, families, and community members will plan and create a garden that will connect learning with living as a responsible citizen of Earth. When completed, children and adults will interact and work side by side. All members will grow their curiosity about organic gardening, natural resources, nutrition, and the impact we all have on our environment.

The gardens will be dynamic environments for all to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. During school, the Gardens will also serve as outdoor classrooms where all students can go for reading, writing, reflecting, meeting, and building real-world skills. Each school garden will consist of various flowers and organic vegetables. It will be a place for 2nd graders to grow sunflowers and pumpkins while they learn about plant life cycles, for 4th and 5th graders to learn about the parts of plants as they develop before their eyes, and for 3rd graders to experience what it was like to grow “The 3 Sisters” just like the Pilgrims. Pollination and photosynthesis will happen for all to see and the entire school community will support every step of the process. The gardens will also include seating and gathering spaces for all to enjoy. Kindergarteners and 1st graders will study hummingbirds and butterflies in their natural environment. Art students will decorate fencing and stones with positive messages. Seating will accommodate a full class so all can be creative in using the space to inspire children’s learning in all areas and all levels.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand/apply knowledge of environmental stewardship
  • Communicate and work appropriately and respectfully with others
  • Appreciate a connection with nature and physical activity
  • Further ability to use evidence to develop reasonable explanations and predictions
  • Further ability to estimate, measure, and compute measurable attributes while solving problems
  • Increased authentic opportunities to learn with a real world purpose leads to deeper understanding(Common Core)
  • Science: Long-term investigations (water cycle, soil, simple machines, habitats, ecosystems, plants)
  • Social Studies: Past and present agriculture, climate, natural resources in Elkhart and our world
  • Language Arts: Literature and writing connected to the garden
  • Math: Measuring, estimating, tracking/graphing harvest, Farmer’s Market