What's in a Garden?

3, 4, 5

In planning their act of philanthropy, students will identify types of gardens and discuss what is practical for the garden they are planning to build.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • research different types of gardens.
  • make research-based decisions on what will go into the garden.
  • Magazines or reference books related to gardening
  • Photographs of gardens
  • Internet access
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


None for this lesson.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Remind students of their chosen purpose for their garden as a gift to the community. Ask them to brainstorm on what kinds of plant material might be suitable for their garden.


  2. Have students use gardening magazines, photographs, and the Internet to compare different types of gardens. They should note what is recommended for various uses of gardens.

  3. A landscape artist, garden club member or representative of a local gardening store may be invited to come in and talk about planning a garden. If this option is used, make sure students have a list of questions ready to ask when the speaker is ready for questions. Suggestions for questions might include:

    • How are gardens laid out?
    • Where should plants be planted? (Shorter plants in front, rows versus broadcasting for naturalization, etc.)
    • What plants grow best in this area?
    • How do you prepare to start the garden?
  4. After the area for a garden has been selected, discuss various types of gardens. Remind students of the purpose of their garden. Is it to be a quiet area, bird sanctuary, a recreational area, or how is it to be used?

  5. After the students have studied the magazines, etc., and/or listened to the landscape artist or garden club member, have students work in pairs to draw a picture of what they think the garden should look like. Discuss the pictures with the students. Have them identify the best parts of each plan.


Pictures the students made can be used to assess whether the students are actively involved in the discussion. Students will write a paragraph in their journals giving their recommendation on how their garden should be laid out. The teacher may observe students' participation as a form of assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students are making decisions related to their gift of a garden to the community.

Read about the service-learning project called Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump by Indiana students who were taught using this What's in a Garden? lesson to guide student learning and action.​

Mr. Hurd is a 4th grade teacher from Indiana who says, "Service learning provides the opportunity for hands-on change in a community ... Kids need to know their time is now. Everything is presented as a projection down the road, but why can't they make an impact now? Learning theory says students comprehend lessons when they are challenging but require guidance. How better to test those limits than to conduct a project with a multitude of facets that shine a light on many skill sets!"

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.