Gardening Lab: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play & Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown

I am not a gardener. I put plants in my yard with thought and care, then I had my third child and started working full time. I love plants, I love gardening, I just don't have time for it and thus haven't shared that love with my kids. However, I work at an elementary school with a project based learning curriculum where the second grade crew took on a year long project that involved a garden, milkweed and monarch butterflies. Using a micro-space, four big planter boxes and a compost pile, these kids became experts over the course of the year. And when, near the end of the school year their garden was vandalized, plants and chrysalises crushed, the spirits of our kids were not. There were tears, for sure, but they rallied. You can read about it here. I tell you about this by way of explaining my personal education on the power of the plant and the good of a garden and I am especially happy to be able to share Gardening Lab For Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown with the students at my school and my readers here.

Brown believes that gardening is the combination of art and science, and her book is a collection of activities that she has used professionally at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, where she has been vice president of education. Her introduction covers plant basics, from plant parts, hardiness and heat zones, annual versus perennial, watering, materials and even gardening with pets. Each lab takes up a two page spread, with the materials and instructions starting on the verso, and a "Dig Deeper!" box on the recto that gives scientist-gardeners the chance to go one step beyond. Units include getting started, theme gardening, green gardening, garden art and enjoying your garden and the variety and breadth that Brown brings to her book surprised and delighted me.

There are labs for soil percolation, making a rain gauge, making a sprinkler, using catalogs to create a garden design, and even making seed tape which I didn't know was a thing but is a brilliant idea. The entire unit on Theme Gardening is inspiring and I even found a project I think I can take on with my own kids - the Herb Spiral, using bricks like building blocks to build a very cool planter. 

The labs featuring art projects, gifts and garden goodies are especially fun. From stepping stones, plant labels and wind chimes to fountains, bird baths, luminarias, Gardening Lab For Kids is packed with great ideas. My favorites? The Garden Journal, the colorful, portable cushions for sitting and enjoying the garden and the lab on Garden Poetry are right up there, but the Garden Fort has to be my absolute. How magical to create a garden, decorate it and then enjoy it from the privacy of your own, handmade fort?

Source: Review Copy

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