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5 Ways to Learn About the World in your Own Backyard

I knew it was spring. The weather was chilly - at least by SoCal standards - but I could see the subtle signs of season's change in the way the wind blew through the trees and the birds sang. Yep - within weeks we would be seeing new signs of growth. But it wasn't just out in the yard that changes were happening. Without warning, my children were suddenly eating every bite of their dinner AND asking for more. Their shirts were getting snug around the middle, and I knew that my little sprouts would be shooting up before my eyes any day now. (Better get my pocket book ready for the inevitable growth spurt that would require a brand new wardrobe!)


With spring "springing" on both sides of my window, I knew it was time to get outside and get our hands dirty. There's something about feeling the earth between your toes and caring for the world at your fingertips that makes us, as humans, feel connected. Starting a garden can be one of the most rewarding things you can do at any age for SOOOO many reasons I couldn't even begin to list them... and, from a strictly educational standpoint, you can literally learn something about every subject in the garden - math, science, history.... you name it!

There is so much to discover in your own backyard. Ready to get out there with your kids and work to create and learn together?! Keep reading, because I've got a few ideas to get you started to make your time intentional and rewarding!

5 ways to maximize learning in your own backyard.

1) Plant a Garden

There is nothing as rewarding as planning and planting your own garden. It's surprising how little it takes to grow a garden... i mean a single pot and some seeds, plus a little TLC, and you'll have your very own place to get your little-one's hands in the soil to learn together! No matter the size or extent of your garden, it's the process that is the reward. And even for those with a brown thumb, even a single sprout that appears overnight will delight your child. It's not about the end harvest, but the process that matters. Just give it a try. Your kids will learn and benefit so much from just digging in the dirt and feeling the sunshine on their backs.

2) Plan hands-on activities (that complement any and all subjects)

Kids love to move, and touch, and manipulate. Beyond actually planing a garden, children will benefit from being IN it as much as possible. Planning activities that promote this sensory experience can easily be done in your backyard. There are ideas galore for this, but some highlights I've found are:

  • build a garden fort and read a book inside

  • practice yoga in the grass (here are some great child-friendly yoga poses to try)

  • paint on rocks to make garden decorations

  • measure the height of different plants, graphing them with chalk on the sidewalk

Check out the garden unit study printable to see even more ideas!

3) Choose themes for learning that develop as the garden or season does

For me, breaking a large subject, like gardening, down into smaller themes helps me focus my lesson plans into more detailed learning. Even if it's not as formal as a "lesson plan, Choosing a theme each week (soil, weeds, insects, etc) makes choosing literature, activities, and points of learning so much easier.

The unit study lesson plan I have available is everything you need for a 4 week garden study, with resources that compliment 4 different week-long themes of learning.

4) Make a Garden journal

An easy way of incorporating seat work into a garden unit study is to keep a garden journal. Fill the journal with observations from your gardening experience, taking note of growth, noticing the types of birds or insects that visit the garden, and adding personal reflections of your time in the garden. The gardening unit study bundle comes with some great journal pages to get you started!! And what a fun keepsake!

5) See it through to the end

Whether your garden ends with delicious zucchini boats, a stunning bouquet of flowers, or just a bunch of wilted and brown sprouts, its the process that counts!! In our garden this year, our radishes died for no reason (that I know of), but before they did, we got to witness the miracle of sprouts appearing overnight, take note of the leaf change during the growing process, notice holes that the bugs had eaten, and experience the responsibility of watering and tending for them regularly. It's all learning. Whatever the end of your gardening experience, take joy in the process and see it through to the end.

Spring is an amazing time of year. To as you watch the growth outside your window don't forget to notice the growth happening in your children. Those little sprouts will change overnight. It's a blessing and a gift to be able to cultivate these little lives and watch them grow, isn't it?

Don't forget to check out the gardening unit study in my shop! I've got activities, resources, printables, and plans all laid out for four weeks full of intentional learning. Built for ages 4-10, It's easy to tailor to your child's abilities and interests! It's a great way to start your backyard adventure.

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