Blog | How to Foster Literacy With Kids in the Garden

Sarah Pounders, Education Specialist, KidsGardening
Sep 6, 2019 1:40 PM ET

Need a little inspiration for working with young children in your garden? Tying gardens to treasured books is an excellent way to engage young children in gardening activities and help fuel their love of reading by connecting books to hands-on activities. 

I recently led a webinar featuring resources for using gardens as a tool for teaching literacy. This was part of the Gro More Good Webinar Series that KidsGardening has been working on with the National Head Start Association and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation.

As an introduction, I expanded on many of the tips from our article on Creating a Reading Garden. Becky Schedler from Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens shared some amazing lessons and activities they have used at their Nature School over the years. 

Becky presented ideas for vegetable gardens inspired by the book “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!” by Candace Fleming, flower gardens centered around Lois Ehlert’s book “Planting a Rainbow,” and, my favorite, an imagination garden building on a variety of Jack in the Beanstalk books. 

Here are a few ideas for how you can work with kids to incorporate a Jack and the Beanstalk theme into your garden:

  • read an assortment of  books inspired by the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk
  • research different types of beans including pole and bush beans
  • create a set of instructions on how to plant beans
  • plant the garden and add labels and whimsical accessories like hanging baskets of white flowering plants to serve as clouds and small farm animals and tractors to help kids imagine the towering bean plant
  • plant bean seeds in paper towels to watch the roots grow and explore germination
  • make lifecycle cards and practice sequencing
  • retell the story using props both in the garden and in the classroom
  • create a sensory table featuring bean seeds
  • hold a taste test of different types of beans and create a chart of favorites
  • use beans in cooking activities

You can use these ideas to inspire other book-themed gardens too. If you are looking for recommendations for excellent garden and nature focused children’s books, make sure to check out the Growing Good Kids Book Awards from the Junior Master Gardener program and the American Horticultural Society. The 2019 winners were just announced in July and they are all delightful.

You can also view our latest webinar by filling out this registration form.  As soon as you register, you will be redirected to a recording of the full hour-long session, which you can watch at your convenience.

Happy Gardening!