Learning Gardens at School and Big Green at Home

This week we are thrilled to welcome our guest blogger, Laura Henderson of Big Green. Big Green is a partner of Jump IN’s and does wonderful work creating learning gardens and gardening education and resources with schools. Laura shares information about Big Green as well as loads of resources and activities you can do and use at home. Here’s Laura:

Over the past couple of years, we at Big Green have enjoyed partnering with the fabulous folks at Jump IN to further school wellness initiatives in Indianapolis by getting out and getting active with children in a school Learning Garden. Being that Big Green is still fairly new here, and we’re at 49 schools and growing, you may be unfamiliar with what makes Learning Gardens special.

Students harvest the fruits of their labor at their school
Student learning to plant seeds

Learning Gardens are ADA accessible outdoor classrooms designed to accommodate experiential learning in a variety of subjects, support life skills, and create space for social-emotional development. When a school in a partner district applies to Big Green for a Learning Garden, it’s so much more than a simple grant or product. They are applying to join our national network of schools in an on-going partnership. Big Green provides the garden infrastructure including durable surfacing when needed, soil, seeds, and seedlings for multiple growing seasons each year. Our program team also offers on-going training and support through on-line resources, in-person and virtual programming, and customized training to meet the unique needs of districts and schools. 

We are inspired and proud to see how our network schools have shown up in their Learning Gardens in 2020! Educators, administrators, support staff, families and school community partners have demonstrated the value of the Learning Garden for self-care and community-care in phenomenal ways. Please celebrate with us by watching this quick video!

Girls package up their leafy harvest

We remain committed to providing relevant, user friendly, and freely accessible resources for educators and families, ranging from short and simple classroom activities and garden explorations to thorough food-literacy centered curriculum and multi-grade level lesson packages. Here are a few examples and links to get you started: 

* In honor of Jump IN, we’d like to spotlight our Move Your Body Like A Plant activity. Take 5-10 minutes and practice your plant moves, or get your groove on with our Garden Jams playlist!
* CLICK HERE to access our free garden-based, food literacy curriculum.
*Ready, Set, Grow! K-8
*Real Food Lab 9-12
* Looking for virtual teaching tools? Ready, Set, Grow! and Real Food Lab have Google Classrooms ready for you to copy and immediately use with students. Email dzeegers@biggreen.org or CLICK HERE to sign-up.
* On-demand virtual professional development modules are available now with more on the way.  CLICK HERE to view our offerings.
* Sign-up for The Beet, our monthly educator newsletter.
* Join the Big Green Educator Group on Facebook to foster collaboration amongst teachers across the nation.
* We also have a growing resource library for families! Big Green at Home is our family-facing website that includes dozens of activities, recipes, and videos to supplement learning that may take place at home or in a hybrid model. It is a great resource for families and other caregivers as well.

Thank you to Jump IN for providing this opportunity to share Big Green and our Indy Partner Network! You can reach our Indy team by emailing Laura Henderson, Program Manager at lhenderson@biggreen.org.

Students learn to plant at their school