Growing Together: Open Forum

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  • 1.  SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 08:40:00 AM
    I am trying to get teachers in my school more interested in the school garden. One teacher asked about resources for social and emotional learning in the garden for 1st graders.  Since I focus on science and environmental topics in the garden, I am not familiar with techniques and resources for using the garden for SEL. She specifically asked for ideas that would tie in with the reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though that might be too specific for a link to the garden. This is the first time this teacher has expressed an interest in utilizing the garden and I would hate to come back and say there's nothing available. Does anyone have any resources they can point me towards? Resources don't specifically have to be about the Grinch; I have nothing at the moment and welcome ALL suggestions! 


    Lara Guerra
    The Hockaday School
    Dallas, Texas

  • 2.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 10:24:00 AM
    What about some how doing a lesson connecting 

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  • 3.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 12:21:00 PM
    I'm one of those crazy old teachers who will tell you that almost all experiences in the garden encourage social and emotional growth.  Just interacting with and caring for the garden itself provides emotional benefits.  

    I would look at some of the ideas presented by Project Wild.  Here is a link.  I personally love the Oh Deer! activity.  

    Probably  my favorite activity in the garden is keeping a nature journal.  Sometimes our focus is color - for example all the colors they see in the clouds.  Sometimes we look for unusual leaves that we then glue in the journal and try to draw.  

  • 4.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 10:48:00 AM
    What about doing a lesson connecting the garden as a community of sharing where the entire school focuses on making it happen when they each do their own part. Unlike the grinch who wanted to take it away. Asking could one person take it away. How many people would it effect. What if he came and took all your plants. Or the seeds?  Why would anyone do something like that?  How can we share our garden more?  How do we already share things in the garden?  Even things just being there to enjoy the beauty. How do we share what is grown as a community?  Does one person do all the work?  How can diseases and drought be like the grinch. They could draw or write about how the garden would be changed if the grinch took one thing. How would plants and animals be effected. 
    This may be a stretch but thematic units are like that. 

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Dec 1, 2021, at 7:23 AM, Jessica Pavlak <> wrote:

    What about some how doing a lesson connecting 

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 5.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 11:13:00 AM
    Hi Lara,

    Here are a few links to consider:

    Treating the school garden as a help for the community will foster a great deal of SEL. 

    Hickory Hill & the Tom Watson Birthplace
    502 Hickory Hill Drive
    Thomson, GA  30824
    FAX: 706-595-7177

    Visit us at or on Facebook.
    Follow us on Twitter: HHEducation

    Historic homes of the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc

  • 6.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 11:52:00 AM
    I teach 8th graders about the Neurosequential Model in Education, based on the work of Dr. Bruce Perry, and I teach a garden class. I would share with the teacher that anything that is predictable, rhythmic, and repetitive is going to be regulating and benefit the students' social-emotional learning. So, Garden Walks and observation time can be very regulating for students, and the teacher can design lessons and adapt SEL concepts to things their students see in the garden - flexibility, teamwork, growth, etc. Just being outside and walking is a good SEL activity.

    Ben Curtiss

  • 7.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-01-2021 01:11:00 PM

    Hi all,

    Can I bookmark this discussion thread?!  As an elementary school counselor in VA, and a novice garden enthusiast, this combo makes me so happy!

    For the first time this year, we have an instructional class called "The 5C's" (Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking and Citizenship - a state-wide initiative.)  These 5 "essential skills" jive with the 5 core components of SEL (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Responsible Decision Making, and Relationship Skills) and, because we don't have an existing garden - we're in the VERY early implementation stages - we've been able to create lessons that address garden (and related tasks), and building these "SEL" skills.

    Your teacher wants to connect the garden to "How The Grinch..." - I'd ask if they'd be willing to address the social awareness/relationship skills aspect of the plot and tie that into a garden activity.

    Thanks for your question and to this amazing community of educators!


    Lauren Kershner

  • 8.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-02-2021 09:39:00 AM
    I am a garden coordinator for my elementary school.  I worked with my counselor to create a 4 parter called "Growing my goal" with first graders -- about setting goals, and tools to stick to it and talk about what happens when it doesn't work for the first time.  We use the analogy of plant parts and growth to frame the module.  Students write their goal on a "seed", then next time we talk about the stem and what might bend or break your stem, but these "winds" can also make you stronger and you can use affirmation language to help build your strength.  They then write the affirmation on a stem and connect it to their seed.  Next is leaves (who is giving you energy or helping you in achieving your goal that you can turn to), and then the flower -- what will people see when achieve your goal.  Then we "plant" each goal on the bulletin board for a wonderful garden.  We also marry this with planting beans in the garden.  We started adapting it for other grades.

    Kirsten Saylor
    Saint Paul MN

  • 9.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-02-2021 01:14:00 PM
    Wow, thank you everyone for the thoughtful responses! You all are the best! This certainly gives me a lot to think about. I'm going to be sharing all of these ideas not only with the teacher that initially asked the question, but with the whole 1st grade team. 

    Here's something that came to mind as I was reading all of your replies... I participated in a tour of 4 school gardens recently with the North Texas School Garden Network. One of the schools that we visited had a sensory garden tucked into a corner of a courtyard close to the building. The garden contained a small potting bench that held pencils and a weather proof box with a reflection sheet. Each plant that grew in this small garden was identified, and the ID card included individual icons representing the 5 senses. Plants could feature multiple icons for taste, see, smell, touch, and hear. This garden reminded me of the "calm corner" that we have set up in each of our classrooms. The Calm Corner functions as a spot where kids can take a moment if they need to. What better calm corner, though, than a garden like this where you're outside and focusing on plants. A big garden can certainly function in this way; however, I thought that this one was particularly nice because it was so close to the school and an adult could easily step a child out there for a moment without having to take the long walk to the main garden.

    Thank you again to everyone for the fabulous suggestions!

    Lara Guerra

  • 10.  RE: SEL Resources for the Garden

    Posted 12-06-2021 06:19:00 AM

    A couple of ideas to consider: 

    Focus on the enduring message from the story--the Grinch was hurting from not fitting in and being selfish because he was unhappy.  Then he had a change of heart because of the compassion of a little child.  That act of kindness changed his understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.  His heart grew and grew. 

    That should be the focus, so talk with the kids about ways they have felt like they didn't fit in, or ways they have excluded others.  Then discuss how they can show compassion or care for others.  How can they show compassion at school?  In the garden? 

    Make heart cutouts with these thoughts and put them on a little "real" Christmas" tree in your classroom that can be planted in or around the school garden later--or better yet a tree in the school garden.   Each kid can take turns reading their message aloud them place on the tree. 

    Heart Cutout alternatives--I have considered ideas for seed starters, bird feeders, etc. with heart shape but they can get complex and may contain peanut butter--gelatin is a good alternative.  Another idea is to use rocks and paint them with a heart to place in the garden.

    Extend). How about sharing the idea of reading both How the Grinch Stole Christmas along with The Lorax.

    How can we share ways to take care of the earth or the environment?  Just as the Grinch's heart grew.  How can garden and taking care of the Earth help our hearts grow or help our garden grown?  Make a class list and try to accomplish some of those ideas for 2022 resolutions in your school community.

    Daniel Pattengill
    Windsor Intermediate Center-Windsor School District
    St. Louis MO