Classroom Management in the Garden Webinar recording and best practices

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Tristana Pirkl (CE CEN)

Jan 28, 2020, 5:11:01 PM1/28/20
to SGSO Network

We just wrapped up a GREAT webinar on Classroom Management in Garden with the Edible Schoolyard, Big Green and


Check out a recording here.


On the webinar, we asked all 350 attendees for their additional suggestions on classroom management in the garden and we got 82 responses! Check them out below and attached.


Stay tuned for our webinar schedule this year!


All the best, 



Edible Education Programs Leader  
A Whole Foods Market Foundation




Classroom Management in the Garden Tips

Having students set classroom norms at start of first session and then record them

SK@School Garden Project of Lane County, Oregon: Think-Pair-Share for engagement

song and dance

I have a garden yoga activity that the students do while others are directly involved inthe garden

Choreographing/mapping out the movement of students through the garden before the lesson.

i have kids make a set of rules that we'll use as a group

student leaders

Theme gardens, music, seed matching game

Students help to develop behavior expectations

Incentives such as planting extra seeds, tasting, being a special helper

I like to split the class into two and have them work as "teams". They then challenge eachother to behave or to participate.

If you can hear my voice, clap 3 times, if you can hear my voice, jump once...etc.

Opening Discussion 20% of time

I have groups working on longer term projects, developing and managing the projects

Singing a "Garden Agreement" song with the kids that has visual pictures for each verse.  The song goes over various rules/agreements for the garden.

Creative garden themed attention getters like VENUS FLY TRAP with hand motions

keep them busy

Sensory awareness activity to open session: Owl Eyes, Deer Ears etc puts students in calm and aware mental state

Asking high achieving students help others through activities.

beginning question and end question

I'm a big fan of loud call-backs. Ex: I yodel and the kids respond yodel. Setting the expectation that after they do that, they will be quiet and listen.

Offering students the opportunity to step outside, take a break, get a drink of water if they are feeling too restless

Allowing students to rotate through groups each class period.

For really difficult groups, having assigned places in starting circle and fair way to choose who gets to do what activity (i.e. names on popsicles you can draw out of a jar)

We dialogue as a group to set our expectations. We also start out each class with a breathing routine

Group contracts that they sign at the beginning of the day.

Class constitution and every student in each classes signs.

Replicate what teachers have in their classrooms for classroom management- for example: "Garden goal" I will use tools properly and safely".

A co-constructed learning goals and co constructed call and response.

We have a weather kids laminated activity. Identify weather and dress the kids, head to toes

Value of volunteers, journaling, "authors chair" - allowing children to share their journaling, parent summary/newsletter with info on garden activities

Hands on 60% Closing discussion and tasting 20%

Doing shout outs at the end of the day to promote positive behavior inside the garden

we review garden expectations at the beginning of lessons at the beginning of the school year and then any time after we take a break

Allow for off-task student exploration (the praying mantis kid) if it means they're having a positive outdoor experience

story time for opening circle with younger children

Use the word "Magnet" to pull students back together in a group.

Setting up multiple stations for students to rotate through in smaller groups

SK@School Garden Project of Lane County, Oregon: Connecting content to adult professions and skills for older students (for example: studying soils could lead you to geology)

We start with circle opening and when we release to stations we have one way directions in the garden. Use of cow bell to signal change stations.

I usually start with a PA game or singing and moving, to get them tired and focused.

We use the phrase "Tools not Toys" Students give examples of proper and improper ways to use a tool.  Then we follow the set expectations for tools.

We sing "Dirt Made My Lunch" to get student attention

Working with teens, we have to teens vote on "teen of the week" It comes with priveleges, like longer break time and leadership of activity

play a game or song at the end of the class

Garden jobs at the start of every session "Mike is on watering this week" etc

Deep breathing activities to calm students

We use a "talking broccoli". It's a veggie plush animal that we toss to give kids a turn to answer and participate.

I bring small worm compost bin for students to look through if they are not engaged in garden activity.

Novel movement activities:  Weed wheel relay race and pollination sequencing Musical to "flight of the bumblebee" score

We use a directions and learning technique called Whole Brain Teaching that includes a method called "Mirror Words", where the kids have to repeat what the teacher says and have hand motions that go along with the insturctions that the students do.

Plant scavenger hunt and memory map of what they find

"Garden Manager" for the class that is a student. They would be like a project manager, and in charge of coordinating all the small groups. This makes the class truly student run instead of asking me or the teacher.

always integrated across curriculum

classroom/garden norms and hopes and dreams, also as they enter the garden, they tap a stop light (green, yellow or red) to show how they are feeling,

classes with good behavior get a hawk ticket and the class with the most tickets at the end of the month get a special lunch

Playing group games as an opening activity to allow students to run, play, and increase social skills.

Management Tip:  I have the opportunity to get high school students run activities for the elementary students

We use a job board.

When the class is over, they can go around and see if there is something that is big enough for them to pick and eat, they can ask before they do it and then they now know how to pick in a gentle way and know when things are ok to harvest.

kinesthetic involvement for the young ones

Management:  I try to visualize the entire time, and write somewhat detailed instructions for groups of 2-4 students.

number of volunteers with both age groups

SK@School Garden Project of Lane County, Oregon: "Ask 3 before me" to solicit socialization between students and also emphasize how we would find out answers if we didn't have an "expert" right in front of us

Build in play!

I also like to make a few students the "experts" and their job is to train 3 other students.

We’re working on developing a “garden buddies” program with 4th grade students doing leadership/mentorship workshops then facilitating activities for kindergarten students

We're trying to implement a program where our JH students are stewards/managers/teachers of the gardens for the entire school

Best practice: use a "salad box" to have younger students practice "planting" seed tape in the classroom before we do it in the garden. This gives them practice with fine motor skills and makes it easier to plant independently.

If others are unaware, Project Learning Tree is a great resource for environmental lessons that could be helpful!

Be calm, engage them in the highest level of physical exertion possible.  Kids LOVE to shovel soil and lift tarps of heavy materials as  a team.

Another way to engage high school students is to plan, grow and cook (in the school's student kitchen, a full lunch.  Definitely gets the low-motivation kids moving.

We have a special education class that comes into the garden.  They love to hand water.  We try other activities of planting, holding worms, looking for caterpillars,,but they keep wanting to water.  Is it ok to repeat this each time they come?  They seem to can’t get enough and really love coming to garden. Thank you

Not all kids want to be visible -- it makes them feel vulnerable.  As a team they can succeed without being pointed out and feeling afraid.

KNOW the background of your students.

make it meaningful and fun

group leaders

Garden Stations

Assign a group leader and do a little of peer mentoring/regulation.

attention signals and related actions

lots of manual labor, easy instructions and just have them do tasks. fill garden beds with dirt for example (some shoveling, some moving the dirt with wheelbarrows..etc) and if some of the kids didnt get the instructions they can ask their peers

Limited time?  I use microdirections for small groups, and make sure they read the thumbnail of the instructions to the whole class before we go out.



Classroom management suggestions from Jan 2020 SGSO Network Webinar.xlsx
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