A Typical Edible Schoolyard Garden Class
Lesson Planning
Place of Learning: 

ESY Berkeley Teaching Staff
Edible Schoolyard Project
Berkeley, CA

A typical garden class with 6th graders at the Edible Schoolyard is 86 minutes (1 hour and 26 minutes) and is divided into three main parts: Opening Circle, In the Field (work time), and Closing Circle. In the garden, we have integrated rituals and routines into every garden class so that students know what to expect and what is expected of them when they arrive to the garden. Students arrive to the garden and gather in the Ramada.
Opening Circle (7-12 minutes)

We use the opening circle to welcome students and frame the garden class. Garden teachers rotate the role of facilitating circle.

  1. Introduce the day’s activity or lesson.  
  2. Focus attention to the job board and exhibit team teaching.
    • From his/her seat in the circle, each garden teacher gives a brief description of the garden job he/she will be teaching.  The brief description of the garden job facilitates student buy-in by allowing students to pick the garden job that interests them the most.
  3. Introduce the closing circle activity so that students are prepared upon returning to circle.
  4. Divide into working groups.
In the Field (average of 45 minutes)

After opening circle, students break up into four working groups.  Each group has an average of 6-8 students and one garden teacher.

  1. Check in and review garden job at job site.
    • Have each student answer a “check-in” question.
      • Check-in questions should be provocative and fun and may not have anything to do with gardening.
      • These questions can relate to the lesson or theme of the day.
    • Break down the steps to executing the garden job and have students identify the necessary tools before going to tool shed.
  2. Work together on your garden job. For more information, see the Edible Schoolyard Garden Jobs take home from this (“A Typical Garden Class”) session.
  3. Integrate student buy-in by taking short breaks for chicken time and foraging.
Closing Circle (between 10-15 minutes depending on method of delivering content)

We use closing circle in the garden to conclude the garden class with an assessment or activity.

  1. Tastings are the most common closing circle activity:
  2. Each student shares his/her name and, dependent on grade level, provides either an observation or a simile based on his/her tasting.
    • 6th Grade: Students draw on their five senses to make an observation of the fruit or vegetable that is being tasted.  
      • Example: My name is ______ and my apple was sweet.
    • 7th and 8th Grade: Students draw on their five senses to create a simile about the tasting.
      • Example: My name is ______ and my apple was sweet like honey.  
    • Seasonal tastings are picked from the garden.
      • Some examples include apples, soft herbs, turnips, radishes, carrots, asparagus, kiwi, sorrel, etc.
  3. Report Backs
    • Each working group updates the class on their respective garden job.  A representative of each group:
    • Describes the garden job
    • Notes the progression of the garden job
    • Example: We finished cultivating the bed and it is ready for planting.
    • Explains how the garden job contributes to the garden at large
  4. For more information on the other creative assessments we use in closing circle, please refer to the Common Garden Assessments take home from the “Creative Assessments” session.