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Lesson Plan

How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals

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How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



Science field journals have been in use for many, many years. In fact, Lewis and Clark were asked to keep a field journal by President Thomas Jefferson. Their journals included detailed observations of the land, plants, and animals they saw. This lesson plan invites students to observe and explore their environment in much the same way. After being introduced to both gardens and field journals by reading picture books, students work together to plant a garden and study its growth using the inquiry process of questioning and exploring. As they research and study, students record their observations in a field journal, to be shared with othersójust like Lewis and Clark!

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As David and Phyllis Whitin explain in their "Inquiry at the Window: The Year of the Birds," inviting students to observe, comment on, and question the things that they see in the world around them leads to "significant inquiry learning." Their article outlines four ways that a fourth-grade classroom's observation and experimentation of the birds that visited a bird feeder outside their classroom window lead to learning. They discovered with their students that inquiry

"begins with looking closely."
"involves really living the lives of scientists."
"generates an endless spiral of questions to pursue."
"involves a flexible use of various nonfiction resources."

Based on planting a class garden, this lesson plan engages students in similar inquiry learning which can result in a year-long study of plants and flowers, comparisons of living things, and application of the inquiry process to other activities in the classroom.

Further Reading

Whitin, David J. and Phyllis E. Whitin. "Inquiry at the Window: The Year of the Birds." Language Arts 73.2 (February 1996): 82-87.

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