Gardens, Botany, and Real Life Learning in the Homeschool

Gardens, Botany, and Real Life Learning in the HomeschoolSo, in February I got this bright idea.  My children were going to plant their first homeschool garden… And hopefully at the end of it they would like it!

The last time our family had a garden was two years ago.  Sleepy, Roly, and Alvin always enjoyed watching Honey and I as we have grown our own food and flowers.  They even helped plant a few seeds once.  Yet they enjoyed eating the fruits of our labor more (Princess enjoyed this as well).  Don’t we all!

But this year I thought we should take it up a notch.  Since we are finishing our botany lessons, building, planting and maintaining a raised bed garden seems like it is the perfect end of botany project for us.  It also will help keep our grocery bill down a bit, or at least maintained at the level it is at since our children seemingly eat constantly!  Hmm…  Maybe I could sneak in a little economics into our homeschool day when we pick our produce.  We could weigh it like we were at the store and calculate how much we have saved!  But I digress.  And lastly, it will teach them a tangible skill that will serve them well in the years to come.

A few months ago, I had them pick out what they would like to grow by looking at some seed magazines, while I toyed with the idea of giving them a 2’x4′ garden.  I thought it may be too much for them to

A sketch of a 1'x4' square foot garden plan for the kid's Homeschool Botany project.

A sketch of a 1’x4′ square foot garden plan for the kid’s Botany Project.

handle, especially for our littles, but the idea kept nagging me.  Which would I choose?  I didn’t know just yet, but whatever I decided had to be easy to maintain.  I then made a list of what they wanted and sketched out what their garden would look like.  Pictured is my sketch of a 1’x4′ garden with each 1’x1′ square being the property of one child.    During one of the following fun weekends, while we were talking about the garden with Honey and loving the bright seed catalog colors during a dreary March day, I explained companion gardening for them in a kid-friendly way.  “Some plants like to be around each other and they each help the other grow big and strong.  But some plants don’t like each other, they make each other weak and sick.”  Even though it was a basic definition, it was a simple way to homeschool during an otherwise laid-back, non-school day.  This helped them to understand what we would be doing next and why.  Plant selection is a tricky thing, especially when companion planting, and especially when working with a limited space as they are.  This fact helped prepare them for the ‘final cut’ that would come a few months later.

Next time, I will go over our entire garden plan in a little more detail focusing more on the companion principles.  But in the meantime, their homework is to look at our yard to find a nice sunny spot for their garden.  My homework?  To map out a few companion planting plans to have ready for any plans they may come up with, and to purchase seeds and kid sized gloves.


Homeschool Lesson Learned:  It’s really fun to see my kids get excited over seed catalogs and very interesting to see what they desired to plant.  Coming up with ideas for integrating what we have been learning into real life lessons is not that hard.  You just have to implement them!


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