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Lesson and Activity Books

Books for Kids

  • “A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds” By Jean Richards. For K-2 gradeRichards has created a wonderful introduction for young readers to seeds and their life cycle. The reader will learn the names of multiple seeds found in everyday fruits and vegetables.  The reader will also grasp the concept that seeds can travel in or on the fruit.  The illustrations also help in understanding the life cycle of a seed.
  • Growing Vegetable Soup” By Lois Ehlert. K-2 grade
    A father and child set out to grow, plant and tend a vegetable garden. Once the vegetables have grown, they will make vegetable soup to eat. This book has clear pictures that show the multiple stages a plant must go through before becoming a vegetable.
  • Inch by Inch” By David Mallett. K-2 grade
    Based on the folk song “Inch by Inch”, this book tells readers what is needed to grow a garden. This book focuses on the chain reactions of nature and mother earth. This book has wonderful illustrations that help readers understand how the garden grows.
  • Over in the Garden” By Jennifer Ward. K-2 grade
    Ants, spiders, and butterflies oh my! This is a basic counting book of insects that might be found living in a garden.  Also featured in the book is the musical score to “Over in the Garden” and a glossary of some of the insects mentioned.
  • Two Old Potatoes and Me” By John Coy. K-2 grade
    A child finds two old potatoes sprouting in a cabinet and her father suggest they should try to grow new potatoes from the two old ones. The story specifies how they prepare the ground by weeding, watering and caring for the plants. After sometime little potatoes begin to grow and soon there is an abundance of potatoes. The pictures are magnificent and definitely add to the overall story line.
  • Alphabet Soup” By Scott Gustafson. K-3 grade
    Otter has a housewarming party and invites his friends for a potluck. Each animal pal brings a dish to share with the same letter as the animal’s name. For instance, the bear brought bread, the lion brought lentils, and the reptiles brought rutabagas. This book highlights alliteration to go with the animal’s description.
  • A Gardener’s Alphabet” By Mary Azarian. K-3 grade
    An alphabetical look into the gardening world which combines different aspects that are found in a garden. A sampling of the words included is: blubs, greenhouse, manure, prune, underground and weed.
  • Eating the Alphabet” By Lois Ehlert. K-3 grade
    Read your way through the alphabetical world of fruits and vegetables. Ehlert mentions currents, jalapeno peppers, parsnips, star fruit, ugil fruit, and yams. There is a glossary of the fruits and vegetables described in the book.
  • Pumpkin Circle: The Story of Garden” By George Levenson. K-3  grade
    This book focuses on the development of a pumpkin seed into a plant, and eventually a jack-o-lantern. There are full-color pictures which adequately capture the life cycle of a pumpkin plant and aid in showing readers what is happening to the plant. The book concludes with simple directions for readers to grow their own pumpkins.
  • Strega Nona’s Harvest” By Tomie dePaola. K-3 grade
    Strega Nona enlists the help of Big Anthony to plant a vegetable garden as she does every year. Big Anthony decides he will plant his own secret garden since he now knows how Strega Nona creates her garden. Big Anthony’s garden produces way more vegetables than he knows what to do with, so he has to find something to do with all the extra vegetables. The illustrations help depict how a garden like Strega Nona’s will look like compared to Big Anthony’s garden.
  • The Vegetables We Eat” By Gail Gibbons. K-3 grade
    This book discusses the types of vegetables that people eat based on what part of the vegetable is eaten.  These types include; blub vegetables, leaf vegetables, and stem vegetables as well as others. The reader will learn the basics of how to create and care for their own vegetable garden.
  • Tops and Bottoms” By Janet Stevens. K-3 grade
    Neighbors, Bear and Hare, become gardening partners where Hare strikes up a deal that Bear cannot refuse. Bear ends up being continually tricked by Hare and his gardening deal. The reader leans about the different parts of vegetables that can be eaten. This book is read vertically which adds to the illustrations and the theme of the tops and bottoms of the plants.
  • Diary of a Worm” By Doreen Cronin. 1-3 grade
    A kid worm describes his daily encounters in the insect world. The reader learns the differences between worms and insects and their roles in nature. Also, the reader sees the worm at school and interacting with spiders, lady bugs and butterflies.
  • How Groundhog’s Garden Grew” By Lynne Cherry. 1-3 grade
    A hungry groundhog tries to eat vegetables out of squirrel’s garden. However, squirrel begins to teach the groundhog how to plant his own vegetables. The squirrel collects and saves through winter and they plant the seeds in the winter.  Groundhog begins to harvest his own vegetables thanks to the helpfulness of squirrel. Additionally, there is a lot of gardening facts mixed into this delightful picture book.
  • “Jack’s Garden” By Henry Cole. 1-3 grade
    Jack tends to a backyard flower garden where the readers enjoy learning about the cycle of a flower. Starting with seedlings to buds forming, insects and birds look on as the flowers reach full bloom. Additionally, the borders have clear, detail drawings of tools, seeds, various insects and flowers.
  • Jody’s Beans: Read and Wonder” By Malachy Doyle. 1-3 grade
    Jody and her grandfather plant beans in Jody’s backyard where she cares for the beans over the summer. Jody’s grandfather teaches her how to tend to her bean plant by watering and weeding. They create a teepee for the plants to grow on, too.  Finally, the beans are ready to be picked and eaten.
  • The Tiny Seed” By Eric Carle. 1-3 grade
    The author discusses the weather cycle in relation to the life of a seed and pollination.  The focus of the book is a group of seeds that travel together through the seasons. Only the smallest and least likely seed ends up becoming a thriving plant. The Hungry Caterpillar is written by the same author.
  • Apple Doll” By Elisa Kleven. 2-3 grade
    Lizzy is scared to start school so she makes a doll from an apple. However, kids begin to tease her. Lizzy and her mother end up preserving the apple doll to prevent the doll from rotting.  Once all the classmates see the preserved doll, they want one too. There are instructions to make your own apple doll just like Lizzy.
  • Scarlette Beane” By Karen Wallace. 2-3 grade
    Scarlette becomes a proud owner of a vegetable garden at her family’s house when she turns five. She tends to the garden by pulling weeds, playing in the soil, and eventually planting seeds.  A magical garden soon takes over the space that was her vegetable garden.
  • Scarecrow” By Cynthia Rylant. 2-3 grade
    This book allows readers to learn about the life of a scarecrow over the course of the four seasons. The scarecrow knows he is in the fields to protect the seeds from harmful insects and other predators. He also knows about the weather cycles and is constantly seeing nature at work.
  • This Year’s Garden” By Cynthia Rylant. 2-3 grade
    A girl tells readers about the amount of waiting and patience that is involved with caring for a garden. The girl describes how her family’s garden is planned and prepared for each vegetable and fruit. She also discusses how the seasons affect her family’s garden from the dead of winter to the summer harvest. The drawings in the book are very realistic of the vegetables and farm land.

Books on Growing, Eating, and General Good Food Philosophy


These are some other places to check out resources and get ideas.

Classroom Kitchen Equipment

This list was compiled by a chef well-versed in cooking and preparing food with kids in a non-kitchen setting and was designed to be a comprehensive catalog of all equipment that would be used for virtually any classroom preparation. Please keep in mind that these are suggestions and a classroom does not need to have all of them to cook with students.

  • Rolling cart for storage (can re-purpose an old A/V cart) (1)
  • Folding tables (2)
  • Plastic storage containers (3)
  • Electric hot plate OR portable food burner OR tailgating stove (2 burners worth)
  • Large skillet (2)
  • 6-quart pot with lid (1)
  • 2-quart sauce pan (1)
  • Blender (1)
  • Food mill (1)
  • Mixing bowls, assorted sizes (3)
  • Chef’s knife (1)
  • Small plastic cutting boards (10)
  • Serrated knives with rounded ends (10)
  • Vegetable peelers (5)
  • Measuring spoon sets (5)
  • Measuring cup sets (5)
  • Box graters (5)
  • Large wooden spoons (2)
  • Slotted spoon (1)
  • Spatulas (2)
  • Whisks, assorted sizes (3)
  • Ladle (1)
  • Potato masher (1)
  • Colander (1)
  • Can opener (1)
  • Plastic plates (20)
  • Plastic bowls (20)
  • Forks (20)
  • Spoons (20)
  • Large plastic wash containers (2)
  • Sponges with abrasive side (5)
  • Dish washing detergent (1)
  • Kitchen towels (4)

Garden Tools and Materials

These are suggestions for tools and materials to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of your school garden. Not all items are necessary for every garden to be successful.

  • Shovels
  • Pitchforks
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Watering cans and/or hoses
  • Long-handled hoes
  • Stirrup hoe
  • Hand hoes
  • Hand spades
  • Hand trowels
  • Rake
  • Garden gloves
  • Posts or stakes for trellising
  • Twine
  • Frost protection fabric for winter covering (could use old bed sheets)
  • Tool shed
  • Rain gauge
  • Thermometer
  • Rain barrel for water collection
  • Seeds
  • Popsicle sticks or paint stirrers for labeling seed starts or garden plantings

Additional tools for student exploration:

  • Hand-held magnifying glasses
  • Clipboards
  • Garden journals