Standards Aligned:
Card Hike
Classroom Culture
Student Engagement
Place of Learning: 
90 minutes
Grade Level: 
In this 6th grade introductory lesson, students first encounter the garden as a classroom. They meet the garden staff, tour the garden, learn the basic systems and routines of the garden classroom, and are introduced to the Edible Schoolyard culture and expectations for learning in an outdoor setting. Students work together in small groups to explore the garden, pose questions and make discoveries.
Student Learning Goals & Objectives: 

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Find their way around the garden 
  • Identify the garden staff and each other by name
  • Describe the garden, its basic infrastructure, and its basic routines

During this lesson, students will: 

  • Tour the garden by participating in the Card Hike activity
  • Play the Garden Name Game
Materials & Prep: 
  • Respect in the Garden Visual Aid
  • Job Board 
  • Sample cards for the Card Hike
  • Prompts for Closing Circle activity
before you begin
  • Create and hang the Respect in the Garden poster in the opening circle location
  • Create the Job Board, listing "Card Hike" as today's only job 
  • Create and set up the Card Hike activity
        Procedure Steps: 
        FULL GROUP, 7-12 MINUTES

        Welcome students and introduce the Edible Schoolyard garden program.

        1. Explain that the Ramada is part of the garden classroom. It is where all garden classes will begin and end with an opening and closing circle.
        2. Introduce the garden staff.
        3. Remind students about the Respect In the Garden poster (shared in the previous lesson) and introduce the job board as a place where students can look to find out what’s happening each day in garden class. 
        4. Reference the job board – have students call out what the activity of the day is and briefly explain that today’s activity is essentially a tour of the garden.
        5. Finally, introduce the cowbell as the signal to finish activities, clean and put away any tools, and head back to the Ramada for Closing Circle.
        6. Divide students into smaller groups and begin the card hike. 

        Each small group of students starts at various points along the hike, allowing each group to participate in the activity simultaneously with enough space between.

        1. Frame the card hike by telling students that this activity will give them the opportunity to see many of the systems and infrastructures in the garden. It will also orient them to space. 
        2. Begin the Card Hike by leading your group around the garden from card to card. Explain that they will take turns in reading the cards
        3. There are two prompts that we ask students to keep in mind as they go through the card hike: 
          • Ideas for the garden name game. "Look for something garden related that starts with the same letter of your first name – e.g. Maiesha Mushroom..."
          • A place in the garden that they would like to return to and explore in depth after the structured card hike activity.

        To play, Students introduce themselves by their first name followed by a word associated with the garden that begins with the same letter (Simona Sunshine, Isaiah Iceberg Lettuce, and so on...). 

        1. Ask students to think back on the card hike and recall the names of plants, animals, or other various aspects of the garden. This reflection will be helpful in participating in the name game activity. 
        2. Have students turn to their neighbor and come up with a garden name together, before sharing out with the group. Go around the circle giving each student the opportunity to share their own garden name. (BEETLES Discussion Routine, Think-Pair-Share – PDF
        3. If someone is stuck and can't think of a garden name in the moment, ask students to help out their fellow classmate by taking suggestions, so that the person giving their name has options to choose from.
        4. As students share their garden name, foster engagement by having everyone repeat the name. This helps us all to learn the names of our classmates.
        5.  Tell students that when they return to the Ramada, they will have the opportunity to share their garden name with the entire class by participating in the Whip-Around activity.

        Frame the students’ 10 minutes of self-guided exploration time.

        1. Explain that they will have an opportunity to go anywhere in the garden that they would like to further explore.
        2. Explain that they will need to report back what they discovered, by bringing one question and one observation back to the closing circle.
        FULL GROUP, 10-15 MINUTES

        Welcome students back to the Ramada and lead them through the Whip-Around activity. 

        1. Garden teachers and students share their garden names and one of their observations or questions.  

        • Forage
        • Job Board
          Teaching Notes: 
          • Highlight behavioral expectations as you reintroduce the Respect in the Garden poster. 
          • Make sure that multiple learning styles are used, including visual aids, interactive team-building games, listening and speaking, reading and verbal communication. This helps ensure that every student receives a similar experience. 
          • Students can learn about the garden as they explore the space and read the series of cards. The cards created for this activity should also emphasize the biodiversity of plants and animals in the garden as well as the concepts of ecosystems and care for the natural world.
          • Providing opportunities for each student to read is a great way of increasing student talk time and the use of academic language. Encourage students to focus on listening, speaking, and following directions. 
          • Introduce the concept of foraging and identify potential crops that students can eat without asking. This helps foster a sense of ownership with their school and school garden. Encourage students to sample crops like ground cherries, tomatoes, lemon verbena, and mint. Place an emphasis on using their five senses.
          • Students are encouraged to explore on their own with one hope  – that they fall in love with the space.

          Academic Standards

          Common Core State Standards

          English Language Arts and Literacy, Grade 6


          Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.


          Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

          Reading Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies 6-12


          Integrate visual information (e.g. in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts

          Edible Schoolyard Standards

          The Edible Schoolyard Program



          Students work with each other and teachers to develop community and personal stewardship, along with skills that will help them navigate different situations throughout their lives.



          ESY students and teachers create an atmosphere of cooperation and unity. We elevate the class experience for all by offering and receiving encouragement, and welcoming the ideas and contributions of others.


          ESY students and teachers notice and appreciate beauty. We take ownership in pleasing and awakening our senses to communicate care and value, because beauty can deliver a message of optimism and expectation without saying a word.


          All lessons at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley are a collaboration between the teachers and staff of the Edible Schoolyard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.

          This lesson follows the BEETLES Project’s Learning Cycle (Invitation > Exploration > Concept Invention > Application > Reflection) and uses their Discussion Routines (e.g. Think-Pair-Share and Whip-Around).  For more information, review the BEETLES Learning Cycle (PDF) and Discussion Routines (PDF) documents or visit beetlesproject.org.