How School Gardens Can Connect to Classroom Learning

By Amanda Ronan

Teacher and elementary students planting a garden outside

School gardens have become more popular in the last decade or so. Students at every level of schooling, from elementary to high school and beyond, can benefit from working in a school garden. Being around and working in a garden can promote healthy living, nutritious eating habits and a greater respect for nature as students get excited to harvest and taste the things they have had a hand in growing. These projects also include movement-related activities like lifting, carrying, digging, weeding and raking. And, because the gardens are outdoors, students leave the screens behind for a bit and get to enjoy nature.

Additionally, gardens provide educators with a real-world project to engage students. Garden projects are hands-on and inquiry-based, including learning opportunities in nearly every academic area.

The most successful school garden projects are those that involve planning by educators to integrate garden topics in the class. The garden should be considered an academic tool for what you are already teaching, not just a side project. Here are some ways to make connections between the garden and your classroom.


Science may be the easiest academic area to connect to the garden. Science teachers can use the garden to teach:

  • Life cycles
  • Relationships between plants and animals
  • Plant structures
  • Soil erosion
  • Weather
  • Ecosystems
  • Anatomy


Building and planning a garden includes lots of practical opportunities to use math. But even once the garden is growing, students can work with math in nature. Here are some ways to connect gardens and math:

  • Measurement
  • Comparisons
  • Charts and graphs
  • Volume
  • Estimation
  • Ratios
  • Data analysis
  • Problem solving


English Language Arts may seem like more of a stretch when it comes to making classroom connections, but it doesn’t have to be. Students who are especially interested in the garden can use it as a great topic for nonfiction writing, persuasive essays, debates and even as a setting for a fictional story. You can also use the garden to teach:

  • Journaling and observation
  • Journalism (create a gardening column in the school paper, for example)
  • Research
  • Procedural reading

Social Studies

Gardening and planting food is how civilizations throughout history have survived and fed their community members. Connect the garden project to learning about:

  • Different historical eras
  • Cultural practices and traditions
  • How different crops have impacted societies around the world
  • The history of agriculture

If you love the idea of helping other teachers figure out how to integrate a school garden with their current teaching practices, you might make a great curriculum coach. Check out the Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction Advanced Program for Continuing Professional Education at Grand Canyon University.

To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s College of Education helps educators create interconnected and authentic learning experiences, visit our website or click the Request Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.