Garden as a Teaching Tool is a new addition to GEF’s Green Thumb Challenge youth gardening initiative which engaged over 750,000 children during last year’s event. The Green Thumb Challenge website aims to connect children to nature by guiding participants through the process of starting, maintaining, and sustaining a youth garden of any size. The website offers a multitude of fun, standards-based lessons and activities that link the garden to the classroom.
Garden as a Teaching Tool is a turn-key program that gives educators all the resources they need to institute green practices in the garden. These guidelines explain the factors that contribute to biodiversity, conservation, and recycling, from rain barrels and native plants to composting, and birdfeeders made from repurposed materials. GEF worked extensively with LEED accredited landscape architects from UBLA, a landscape architecture firm in Wenham, MA, to create sustainable garden designs for three different garden budgets. The designs integrate features such as biodegradable seating and pollinator gardens. In addition, Garden as a Teaching Tool offers four theme garden designs with plant spacing guides and helpful tips. The Green Thumb Challenge website provides auxiliary lessons and activities that complement Garden as a Teaching Tool. “Sort the Compost Bin” and “Designing a Native Plants Garden” both speak to elements within each of the sustainable garden designs. Additionally, each of the activities in “Welcoming Wildlife” brings beneficial bugs and birds to the garden, increasing biodiversity.
The Garden as a Teaching Tool program is not only a fun and simple way to introduce the concept of sustainability to the classroom, but also a means of fostering physical and emotional health and well being. Current statistics reflect alarming trends in the health of American children. One in three kids are overweight or obese, and incidents of related health issues such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are soaring. “When children are able to grow and taste their own vegetables, they are more likely to get excited about cooking and eating healthier foods,” noted Victoria Waters, President GEF. “The Green Thumb Challenge operates under the principle that every educator who wants to teach a child how to grow his or her own food should have the guidance and support to do so.”
In addition to Garden as a Teaching Tool, GEF launched the Adopt-a-Plant campaign, a low-cost activity that gives educators the opportunity to bring nature indoors no matter what the season. The Green Thumb Challenge website provides adoption papers, related research, and customized standards-based lessons to enhance the Adopt-a-Plant initiative. Through the introduction of Garden as a Teaching Tool and its Adopt-a-Plant campaign, GEF continues to challenge schools and youth groups to pursue sustainability education by bringing the outdoors into the classroom.
More About the Green Thumb Challenge
The Green Thumb Challenge aims to connect children with nature and the healthy benefits of gardening as part of a nationwide movement to get kids growing. GEF's "turn-key" garden plans provide participants with beginner-friendly resources to plant gardens of any size, as well as, fun activities and standards-based lessons linking the classroom to the garden. Visit www.greenthumbchallenge.org to enroll for free today!
About Green Education Foundation
GEF is committed to creating a sustainable future through education. GEF provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers worldwide with the goal of challenging youth to think holistically and critically about global environmental concerns and solutions. Visit www.GreenEducationFoundation.org to register and to gain full access to GEF’s free comprehensive library of standards-based lessons and activities.
For more information contact srubin@GreenEducationFoundation.org or call 888.668.2298
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About Bonnie Plants
Bonnie Plants is dedicated to bringing you the best herb, flower, and vegetable plants available and promoting green gardening. A national plant wholesaler based in Alabama, Bonnie supplies retail stores all over the United States. They are dedicated to going greener and providing eco-friendly gardening products that are safe for the environment and easy to use. Their biodegradable peat pots and jumbo fiber pots have already prevented millions of pounds of plastic from entering landfills. They even have a recycling facility on site at the Bonnie headquarters as part of their commitment to green gardening. For more information, please visit www.bonnieplants.com.