The Big Idea
Recording happenings and progressive observations in the school garden is a great way to integrate Language Arts and other academic areas into your garden projects. Garden Logs endow teachers with a concrete assessment of individual student progress, develop peer-to-peer presentation skills, and offer students a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to their parents what they are doing in the garden! It is up to the teacher how elaborate to make or how much emphasis to place on students’ Garden Logs. The variety and scope of Garden Log entries is endless!
- Practice recording observations and making measurements
- Write in a variety of ways
- Present findings and writings to classmates
- Exercise creativity
How to Make it Happen
The construction of Garden Logs is extremely flexible. They can be readily made from classroom materials or they can be purchased binders with dividers. Tailor your record book requirements to your class' needs. Here are some fitting Garden Log ideas to get you started:
- The easiest Garden Log is made out of several pages of white printer paper folded in half width-wise and stapled near the fold. Students can decorate the front using markers. You may want to provide a few clipboards in the garden area as a hard writing surface if you don’t have any benches.
- Another cheap and easy Garden Log idea is 99cent composition books. These provide a sturdy, protective cover for all your garden recordings. ½” or 1” plastic three-ring binders can be used with white paper inserted. Optional: plastic dividers for different sections of the garden you plan on studying in depth such as, Butterfly, Plants, Critters, Weather, etc.
Here are some ideas to get you started using Garden Logs:
- Have students measure and record the height of plants in the garden every week. Each week, subtract last week’s value from the new week to determine how much the plant has grown. After several weeks, make a graph charting the plant’s growth. You can also record two different types of plants and compare the growth rates to one another.
- Have students pick a quiet spot in the garden at least 3 feet from anyone else. Tell them to sit still and close their eyes for a minute and use all of their senses except sight and taste to describe the world around them. Then let them sit with their eyes open for 30 seconds. What does the air smell like? What did they hear? What could they feel? What did they see? Have them record everything in their Garden Log.
- If you have a Weather Station in your garden, have the students record all of their findings. See Weather Station lesson guide.
- Spend a garden lesson observing all the birds/mammals that come to the garden. Can you identify them using a field guide?
- Record when the seeds were planted, when they germinated, and when the first flower/fruit/vegetable appeared, when they reached maturity, etc.
- Have story time in the garden and have students write down their thoughts about the story or answers to your questions in their Garden Logs.
- Have students write a story about an insect that visits the garden. It could be a made up story or it could be an actual account of an insect they’ve spotted.
- Is there any damage to plants? Did anything fail to grow? Students can write down why they thought this happened and if it could have been prevented.
- Have students pick one of the garden rules and elaborate on why it is necessary.
- What would they like to plant next in the garden and why?
- Measure and record soil temperature/pH level.
- Study soil composition and record observations. You could also compare soil to sand and compost materials. See Soil Breakdown lesson guide.