Project Description

River of Words Homepage

Overview/Rationale for Lesson
Children begin to learn about habitat and the interdependence of organisms through a first visit to the school garden.  Focusing question: Who does the garden belong to?

Grade level: K-2

Print Version

Developed by Mary Bates, Jackson Street School, Northampton, MA and used in Kindergarten

Community partner: School Sprouts

Learning Objectives

  • Children will learn about habitat of organisms.
  • Children will begin to understand interdependence of organisms and nature.
  • Children will observe, draw and describe one thing they notice in nature.
  • Children will learn and practice rules for nature excursions.

Lesson Plan Procedure

Preparatory Activity
Time: 5 minutes

Step 1.  During circle discussion, explain the purpose of a nature excursion (“to explore, learn about our environment, our world and living creatures”) and how it is different from outside playtime.  5 minutes.

  • Discuss rules for nature excursion
    • Quiet voices (why? other classes are working, can hear the teacher, can focus on nature)
    • Listen to teacher directions
    • Use a scientist’s eyes and ears
    • Respect living creatures and plants

Main Activity
Time: 30 minutes

Step 2. Take children outside and give a brief tour and history of the school garden. 5 minutes.

  • Each child carries a clipboard with handout attached.  (Download Student Handout from Materials Checklist.) Children set clipboards down until it is time to draw (in Step 6).  Teacher brings pencils, erasers and colored pencils.
  • Teacher narrative:  Garden was designed by teachers working with a gardener.  Garden was created by teachers and parents and students.  There are beds for each class K-4.  Garden plantings include three sisters, herbs, a butterfly patch and a strawberry patch.

Step 3. Ask children focusing question:  Who does the garden belong to? Share ideas out loud. 2 minutes.

Step 4.  Read aloud picture book, Whose Garden Is It?, by Mary Ann Hoberman.  10 minutes.

Step 5. Discuss the focusing question and give directions for drawing and writing about one creature or thing in the garden.  3 minutes.

  • Ask children:  Whose garden is it?  Who do you think this garden belongs to?  Pick one creature or thing that you think the garden belongs to.  Draw a picture of it on the handout and I’ll come around to write the word.

Step 6.  Children sit in assigned spots in garden, observe with eyes and ears, and draw a picture on the handout (from Materials Checklist).   5 minutes.

Step 7.  Write children’s word(s) on the handout, or help them write by themselves. 5 minutes.  (See sample student finished work at Step 8.)

  • This may be done individually as children complete their drawings in the garden, or back in the classroom.  If possible, bring another adult along to help with writing children’s words.

Conclusion/Follow-Up to Activity
Time:  10 minutes

Step 8.  Back in the classroom, students share their pictures and words with the class.  Some students may use this time to finish their drawings.  10 minutes.

Make a class book with children’s drawings and illustrations.

Sample first page of a class book.

Sample student pages for class book:


Additional Notes on Lesson Plan:


Materials Checklist

  • Book for read aloud:  Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Student Handout (pdf)
  • Clipboards, pencils and erasers (one each per student)
  • Colored pencils (one basket per small group)
  • Optional:  seats for children


  • Whose Garden Is It?Writtenby Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Jane Dyer (Winner of the 2004 National Outdoor Book Award)
  • Sample student pages (Fig. 3, 4, 5)
  • First page of class book
  • School Sprouts (community partner)


  • Whose Marsh Is It? See first page and sample student page of a book created by Mary Bates’ students in February after a visit to a nearby marsh:


  • Other possibilities include: Whose Schoolyard Is It?  Whose Vernal Pool Is It?  Whose Watershed Is It?

Developer’s Comments on Lesson:

“I was trying to figure out how to get them outside on the second day of school for just a short amount of time and have them write something about it.” –Mary Bates


SCIENCE (Connections to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks)

Framework: Science and Technology/Engineering
Strand: Life Science (preK-2)

Topic: Characteristics of Living Things
1: Recognize that animals (including humans) and plants are living things that grow, reproduce, and need food, air, and water.
3: Recognize that plants and animals have life cycles, and that life cycles vary for different living things.

Topic: Living Things and Their Environment
8: Identify the ways in which an organism’s habitat provides for its basic needs (plants require air, water, nutrients, and light; animals require food, water, air, and shelter).

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS (Connections to the Common Core State Standards,

Reading: Literature » Kindergarten

Key Ideas and Details

  • RL.K.1. With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RL.K.7. With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

  • RL.K.10. Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

Reading: Informational Text » Kindergarten

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RI.K.7. With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).
  • RI.K.8. With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.
  • RI.K.9. With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

Writing » Kindergarten

Text Types and Purposes

  • W.K.2. Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

Production and Distribution of Writing

  • W.K.5. With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
  • W.K.6. With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

  • W.K.8. With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.