Gardening provides a variety of hands-on, project-based learning experiences for elementary students. Adding rigor to any gardening projects you have planned can help students develop a deeper understanding of the content they're learning. It can also help students develop critical thinking skills and encourage them to be team players. Here are a few ideas on how you can add rigor to gardening projects for elementary students:
- Have students keep a science journal to record any observations they make about their gardening project. Encourage them to record their thoughts about the experience, changes they notice in the plants, any measurements they take, and any other data needed to complete the project.
- Ask students to graph measurements. Choose a few measurements (temperature, plant growth, etc.) for students to record daily or weekly. Once they have recorded several measurements, ask students to graph their measurements and make observations about the plants and overall project based on the graphs and data.
- Have students make a hypothesis. Is one plant flourishing while another isn't growing? Ask students to make a hypothesis about this and similar situations throughout the duration of the project. Asking children why they think something is happening and encouraging them to use their notes and data to support their hypothesis will help children develop critical thinking skills and learn about the scientific method.
- Make sure students do the work. Students should do the work if they are able to do it. Building, planting, and taking care of their gardening project can help children feel more engaged in the project.
- Have students design solutions. Asking students to use common household items to create solutions for plant supports, pest prevention, watering systems, and other gardening problems gives them opportunities to practice engineering and design skills.
- Ask students to make a plan for what they grow. Do they want to donate the fruits and vegetables they grow to a local food pantry, or do they want to organize a plant sale to raise money for a local cause or charity? Whatever they end up doing, make sure they think of the business and/or marketing elements needed to make their plan a success.
Browse our Science and Health section for a variety of materials you can use for gardening and other science projects.