Math in The Garden


The University of California Botanical Garden, in collaboration with the Lawrence Hall of Science, has developed Math in the Garden, a guide to engaging math activities that anyone can do. No mathematics expertise is needed to lead the activities, only a desire to discover the out of doors with children.

Math in the Garden uses a mathematical lens to explore the magical arena of gardens. The beautifully watercolor illustrated, easy-to-follow activities cover a wider range of topics, from discovering patterns and symmetry to measuring planting beds and harvests.  Building on children’s natural curiosity and sense of fun, these creative activities promote inquiry, language, nutrition, and teamwork.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation in 1999, and supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. After-school youth leaders and educators from botanical gardens, garden clubs, 4-H programs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, home-schooling groups, and classroom teachers have taught the investigations and contributed their insights.

The activities are grouped by the predominant mathematics strands and support the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Principals and Standards of School Mathematics and the National Academy of Sciences National Standards for Science Education. Each investigation has an simple step-by-step format and can be completed within an hour. The inexpensive equipment and materials necessary for the activities can be found in most homes and garden programs. See how easy it is to excite your kids about Math (and encourage good nutrition) using Math in the Garden at your home or school.

Click here to view sample pages and activities from the book. You can purchase the book from our Online Garden Shop.

Botany on Your Plate

BOYP-front-coverBotany on Your Plate is an investigative life science unit for grades K-4 that inspires children to explore the fascinating realm of plants we eat. Every lesson begins with plant snacks that spark curiosity, interesting questions, and social dialogue to fuel the learning process. This inquiry approach engages children as botanists observing and collecting data, discussing findings, and reflecting on what they learned.

Students observe, draw, predict, dissect, describe, compare, journal and diagram their discoveries as they study edible roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Exploring and tasting fresh produce is a central theme of Botany on Your Plate. Children learn about the nutrient values of these edible plant parts while savoring the taste, texture, and aromas of foods from the gardens of the world.  Through their own hands-on investigations, children’s interest in edible plants (fruits and vegetables) is heightened.

This unit was developed with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and provides strong support to major learning goals outlined in the National Science Education Standards. The sessions interweave life science with environmental science and connect strongly to the “science and inquiry” Standard. The California schools testing the curriculum were required to meet performance goals focused on literacy and mathematics. To overcome the rigorous time constraints for science, Botany on Your Plate was designed to support key mathematics, language arts, and social studies Standards, as well as health Standards related to nutrition.  The curriculum has already been adopted by several school districts and is used in classrooms across the country (and even abroad!).

Botany on Your Plate was a collaborative effort with input from teachers, parents, and nutrition educators. The curriculum has been used in diverse settings, including English Language Learners classes where moms, dads, and grandparents attending have taken activities home to involve their youngsters in cooking and gardening. Teachers who are part of the national school garden movement have used this unit to link planting and harvesting activities to the classroom. Food service personnel at partner schools have played an important role in supporting classroom investigations with lunchroom salad bars and fresh fruit and vegetable choices. We encourage you to build a community of collaborators to broaden and deepen the impact of this growing love of edible plants!

Click here to view sample pages and activities from the book. You can purchase a copy from our Online Garden Shop.