The Joy of a Garden (3rd Grade)

3, 4, 5

Through literature, students see a garden as a place where an individual can go for inner peace and solitude. They show environmental responsibility by sharing a garden within a community.

PrintOne 45 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • respond to the story The Gardener by describing the main character's actions and motivations.
  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent, and treasure for the common good.
  • brainstorm ideas for volunteering to make the world more beautiful for the common good.
  • Copy of the book The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
  • Venn diagram
  • Stewart, Sarah. The Gardener. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1977. ISBN: 0374425183


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students to raise their hands if they have a garden or have worked in a garden. Ask the students who raise their hands to describe some of the work involved.

  2. Show the cover of the book The Gardener (see Bibliographical References). Ask what they think the book is about. Allow a few minutes for discussion, then tell the students that this is a story about a young girl named Lydia Grace Finch who has to leave her grandmother's lovely farm with a garden to go and live with her Uncle Jim in the city.

  3. Read the story once, allowing the learners to enjoy the story.

  4. Read the story a second time, stopping periodically to ask the students to describe Lydia (e.g. brave, creative, smart, selfless, etc.).

  5. Create a Venn diagram to compare her life in the city with her life on the farm. Label one circle The Farm and the other The City. Ask the students to tell you what to write in each circle and in the part where the circles overlap. Encourage the students to think about how Lydia acts in each place, what she does each day, who she sees, and what she feels in each place.

  6. Discuss the following questions:

    • Why do you think Uncle Jim never smiles?
    • How did Lydia Grace's grandmother inspire her?
    • What is the definition of philanthropy? (Giving time, talent, or treasure or taking action for the common good.)
    • How did Lydia Grace share her time, talent, and treasure for the common good? (She shared her time by growing flowers, her talent of gardening, and her treasure of her seeds.)
    • How did she show commitment to her work of making the world more beautiful?
    • In what ways do you think we can be like Lydia Grace?
  7. Tell the students about Earth Day. Earth Day is a day to take action and raise awareness about taking care of the Earth and keeping it beautiful. Tell them they will brainstorm ideas for projects they can do.

    • Ideas may include planting flowers in a garden or in pots, taking care of a community garden, picking up litter, or making posters and writing letters to raise awareness about an issue.
    • Ask the students to think of someone who has inspired them. Maybe it was a class visitor who taught them something new. Maybe it is a grandparent or uncle. Encourage the students to recall the feeling of excitement they get when someone inspires them to action. This may spark an idea of something they can do to make the world more beautiful.
    • Ask the students to think of people who might need cheering up or who would appreciate seeing a beautiful garden. This may give them ideas of people they could serve.
  8. Brainstorm ideas together and write them on the board or chart paper. Come to a consensus to choose something the class can do to make the community more beautiful.


Teacher observation of learner's participation in class discussions will serve as the assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students brainstorm and make a group decision on what they can do to make the community more beautiful.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.