Why Have a Garden?
Students (and their
parents, if you wish)
Ball of string
the many purposes of having a garden:
Help take care of our
Grow delicious, fresh vegetables
and fruits to eat.
Grow food that you know
is safe to eat and chemical-free.
consumption, since the food doesn't have to be refrigerated, packaged, or travel
very far to get to your table!
Save money on
Grow flowers to make
your neighborhood more beautiful and give as gifts.
Learn about nature.
Be creative in a new
organizational skills, and time management to get garden tasks done and be
rewarded with healthy plants.
Soak up the sunshine,
breathe fresh air, and get some exercise.
Do fun science
writing and other academic skills.
Learn about nutrition.
Try cooking and
Explore careers that
have something to do with food, agriculture, working outdoors, etc.
Serve others by growing
food for your family or to give away to the hungry.
Learn about business
and economics, and see how much money you can save by growing your own food.
Make money by selling
your extra harvest.
Make friends with older
people who love gardening, too.
ACTIVITY: THE WEB OF LIFE
main reason to set up a kids' garden is probably a mixture of all of these, and
one more very important purpose: to teach kids about the web of life.
is, you can learn a lot about how humans and nature are interrelated by
spending time gardening. You grow into a steward of the Earth. You see the many
ways that humans and the rest of life are in fragile balance as you see the
effects of what you do on the plants you grow.
gardeners would also say that you become a more respectful and kind friend and
family member, too, when you get good at the many skills of gardening. That's
because you can be the real "you" in a garden: gentle and productive and
creative and happy!
can learn so much from growing plants in a garden: soil, water, seeds, roots,
insects, pollination, erosion, photosynthesis, pollution, and so many other
amazing learning opportunities.
demonstrate how it all comes together in gardening, and how all of us are in
the web of life with this fun activity.
may use up an entire ball of string, but if you do, just cut it in tiny pieces
and have each student take a handful home to set out for birds to use to build
their nests! That's another example of how we all are interrelated!
the students and adults sit in a circle on the floor. You walk around the
outside of the circle, holding the ball of string. Start asking these
questions. Each time someone answers, have them loop the string around their
fingers. Everybody should keep holding on to the string from where they
connected. They should also remember what question they answered. If you have
fewer people than there are questions, they can answer a second question and
take a second loop:
Name a plant that grows
in this neighborhood.
What does that
plant need, to grow? (water)
What other living
things besides humans in our area need water to live?
Name something that
might eat part of a plant.
What happens to a plant
during the winter?
What happens to plants
or its parts, like bark and leaves, when they die?
How do plants get
recycled into soil?
What is a creature that
eats dead plant parts in order to survive?
What is a creature
that eats one of those creatures? (robin,
10. What creature, in turn, might eat one of those? (snake)
11. Name a plant
that might grow in the new soil created by the creatures eating dead plant
12. What would happen to plants if they didn't get any
water or any rain for one month?
13. If the plants died, what would happen to the creatures
that eat plants?
14. If those creatures died, what would happen to the
creatures that eat them?
15. Name things that we eat that come from plants.
When each person is holding string, ask them what shape
they have made - a web. What does it represent? The connections between living
things. Each person, and each creature or object in nature, plays a special
role in the web of life.
Now ask two people to raise their hands: the student or
adult who answered the first question about a plant, and the second question
about what plants need, with the answer of "water." Ask them what would happen
if humans let pollution get into the water that the plant needed to live. If
they said the plant would die, use the scissors to cut the string between those
Now ask the person who answered the third question, what
other living things besides humans need plants to live, to raise his or her
hand. Since the plant has died and the connection is cut, take a hold of the
end of the string that leads to that third person, and tug on it sharply. Ask
the group who else noticed the tugging. That will show them how, when there's
one problem in the web of life, it creates problems for other parts of the web.
You can brainstorm solutions to these problems and keep
adding more connections to your web. You can suggest other hypothetical
situations and ask the students and parents to name the consequences, or
suggest solutions that would restore the web to balance.
-- Adopted from Junior Master
Gardener Teacher/Leader Guide,
a 4-H Youth Development Program,
Texas Cooperative Extension, pp. 43-44