The Garden Storyline provides a sequence of Learning Engagements (LE) that engage learners in a field-based science investigation in food-for-human / annual vegetable gardens. The Garden Storyline was designed to be used  in informal learning environments, but can be adapted for use in school-based garden learning. The Storyline was originally designed using a 5-day summer camp structure, however the LEs are modular and can be divided up to be used in a variety of formats that best suits the learning program (afterschool programs, weekend programs, community garden club, etc).

This is only one piece of a much larger ecosystem of materials that are part of the Learning in Places project. In the Learning in Places project, we co-design innovative research and practice with educators, families, and community partners that cultivate equitable, culturally based, socio-ecological systems learning and sustainable decision-making utilizing “field based” science education in outdoor places, including gardens, for children in Pre-Kindergarten to 3rd grade and their families.

The Garden Storyline is composed of several Learning Engagements (LEs). The LEs guide garden educators in a science investigation in the garden. When using the Learning in Places Rhizome as a guiding lens, gardens can be locations for rigorous, relevant, equitable and critical science learning that is woven into the larger community. The Garden Storyline  supports learners to begin to develop a “gardening habit of mind” and build their knowledge, decision-making skills, and confidence around garden tasks. Rather than learning about various garden facts or tasks that are told to them by a more experienced garden educator, the Garden Storyline makes visible the reasoning that experienced gardeners use that is behind the “why and how” of making a decision in the garden. This includes demonstrating the thinking patterns and strategies of a gardener and how various considerations (including ethical considerations) influence their decision making.

Learning Engagements: 

The storyline is made up of nine different Learning Engagements (LEs):

  1. Histories of Places Garden Walk: think across multiple time scales to consider how the garden came to be the way it is today and what it could be in the future
  2. What Should We do?” Questions in the Garden: learn about common garden tasks to form a garden “Should We” question. 
  3. Developing a Model of the “Should We” Question: create a model to help us think more deeply about the things we need to know to answer the “Should We” question
  4. Exploring Different Garden Methods: dig into three different methods expert gardeners consider when approaching this garden task to see how various considerations influence decision making
  5. Community Interview: gather information by interviewing a community garden expert
  6. Data Collection: conduct a field-based investigation to collect data and gather information to explore the garden “Should We” question. 
  7. Summarizing Data to make a Decision: make sense of the data you have gathered to answer your “Should We” question 
  8. Taking Action in the Garden: Take action and apply the garden method with your group
  9. Helping the Garden Grow: Sharing Your Findings with Future Gardeners: share out your decisions and the application of the garden method

Use the storyline graphic to navigate to activities and foundational frameworks, or go to the full list below.

Field-based Seasonal Storyline Learning Engagements