I’ve always viewed gardening as more of an intuitive, emotional process. But, as I work on evolving our homestead and garden into an educational space, I have been seeking out more intentional approaches and guides. During my search, one book stood out for its creativity and multi-disciplinary approach to working alongside kids in the garden. Newly released, The Garden Classroom by Cathy James is filled with over fifty activities and 200 pages of inspiration!
As creator and writer at Nurture Store, Cathy draws on her wealth of knowledge both in and outside the classroom to bring this book to life. Stick around because at the end of this post, I’ll share how to get a free gift and enter to win this book.
Who This Book is For
- It’s geared towards children ages 4-8. However, many of the activities can be modified for a younger or older audience.
- Environmental educators or teachers looking to integrate gardening into their curriculum.
- Parents and caretakers looking to enhance their child’s outdoor education or simply fun in the garden!
What This Book Is
The book is divided into the following sections: The Basics, Play & Imagination / Reading and Writing / Science & Math / Arts & Crafts / Garden Recipes. Originally, I was looking for a gardening guide that was broken up by seasons, but The Garden Classroom’s organization makes it possible to: engage specific skill sets, diversify instruction, and adapt to a wide range of curriculums.
This book does not assume that all children are inspired in the same way. Yes, it makes direct connections like starting seeds and a list of recommended plants to grow. But, there is also a wealth of tangential activities such as sensory treasure hunts, bug hotels and story stones.
The author didn’t develop, test and refine these activities on a huge estate. In fact her own garden is a tiny city space. This “limitation” helps to widen the book’s audience and lends itself to use by a wide range of spaces and situations.
I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to introduce children to the outdoors and gardening in particular. In a sea of blogs and content created specifically for kids, it can sometimes be hard to differentiate. In The Garden Classroom, a majority of the featured ideas, crafts and experiments felt fresh and new to me.
What This Book Is Not
If you are looking for a comprehensive A to Z gardening guide, this might not be the right choice. The focus here goes beyond growing food and includes crafts, arts, and activities inspired by the garden. The content is intended to get kids invested not only in the act of growing, but also in the material, methods and process itself.
Here are some of me and my daughter’s favorites from each section of the book.
Grow Your Own Meadow (The Basics): Here you can grow your own patch of grass and have a living, sensory play space! My daughter had a blast interacting with her miniature animals.
Mud Pie Tea Party (Play & Imagination): We much preferred this muddy-version to a “proper” tea party.
Set Up a Fairy or Gnome Mailbox (Reading and Writing): We just got our small fairy mailbox up and already have had so much fun with this idea. My daughter is only two so instead of letters, she leaves found nature treasures in the box as gifts for the fairies.
Plant Olympics (Science & Math): We haven’t done this yet because the season is just starting, but I know it’s going to be a hit (and a great learning opportunity) trying to see which plants are the heaviest, longest and most abundant.
Sticky Pictures (Arts & Crafts): We had a lot of natural materials preserved from the fall, so we used them to create these natural images set inside beautiful twig frames.
A Free Gift
Even if you don’t decide to purchase this book, Cathy has been kind enough to give away some creative pieces of the content for free! Print out as many pages as you want of The Garden Journal featured in the book. It’s a great way for kids to record their observations, investigations and thoughts in the garden. Click here or on the image below to download.
Win The Book!
I dig (pun intended) this book so much that I made it a part of The Wilder Child Book Club’s April giveaway. You can learn more about The Book Club (where nature and reading meet!) and enter the giveaway here.
Can’t wait to hear about all the fun you’re having in the garden this season!
Your Woman Gone Wild,