It's Our Garden

What You Need


  • Copies of It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden
It's Our Garden


To use a science picture book about a school garden to help students understand how sequencing the events in the book can help deepen their comprehension when reading.


This lesson uses a book called It's Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden by George Ancona. This book was one of the winners of the 2014 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

During the elementary school years, it is important for students to have experience with sequencing events, from putting historical events into chronological order to putting the steps of the food chain in order. Putting information in some kind of order, or sequence, allows learners to break the information down into smaller parts to make sense of it. This sequencing strategy can help students gain a deeper understanding of the story told in the It's Our Garden hands-on science book.

This lesson introduces students to a particular school garden that is described in the book. In this book, Ancona shares his fascination with a school garden near his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the course of a year, he photographed the students, their friends, teachers, and families as they tended to the garden from seed to harvest. The book itself chronicles how the students planned, carried out, observed, and recorded their work in the garden. Ancona's photo essay is graced with the students' drawings of the plants, the insects that keep the garden thriving, and the wildlife that calls the garden home.

The format of this book lends itself nicely to the sequencing activity in this lesson. To do the activity, students should read the story and take notes about the sequence of events as they follow along. They will then extend on this activity to help them understand how sequencing can help deepen their comprehension when reading.

Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in these Common Core State Standards:

    With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
    With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
    With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
  • Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
    Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
    Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
    Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
    Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
    Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
    Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
    Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

Planning Ahead

Print out the How a Garden Grows student sheet ahead of time. Be sure to mix up the sequence of events before you give the sheets to the students.


Students should be familiar with the concept of sequencing the events of a selection from beginning to end, determining how the incidents are connected and lead to a solution or conclusion.

To help students review this concept and check for their understanding, you could begin this lesson by having students do a sequencing activity. But first, you may want to remind students what the concept of sequence is: the act of putting events or actions into order. 

Provide students with the print outs of the How a Garden Grows student sheet. Divide students into groups of five and ask each group to put the sheets in the correct sequence to grow the plants. Each student should hold one of the sheets and then the group should line up so that the steps are in the right order.

Once the class has done this activity, bring everyone back together for a discussion using questions like these:

  • What was the first step in growing the plants?
  • What was the last step in growing the plants?
  • If you were to rearrange the order, would the plants still be able to grow?


In this part of the lesson, you should do a class reading of It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden, by George Ancona. Then students should do a sequencing activity to enhance their comprehension of the text. The sequencing activity will help students understand what happens during the beginning, middle, and end of planning and taking care of a school garden.

Unless you have advanced readers in your class, you will likely read the book aloud to them. To keep them involved, focus on events that take place in the book and the order in which they occur. Students can take notes during the story and then participate in a class discussion.

You can lead the discussion by asking questions like these:

  • What happened first to get the whole school garden started?
    • (Mrs. McCarthy dreamed of having a school garden and she talked to other teachers, the principal, and parents about it.)
  • When do the teachers and students start to plan the school garden?
    • (They start to plan the garden in the springtime.)
  • What do they do first to plan the garden?
    • (They decide on what types of plants they want to include by looking at seed catalogs and cutting out pictures from the catalogs.)
  • Where do students plant the seeds when it’s still cold outside?
    • (They plant the seeds in the greenhouse.)
  • What happens before any plants are put into the garden?
    • (Compost is mixed into the soil.)
  • When are the butterflies ordered and why are they introduced into the garden?
    • (They are ordered in early spring and released in the garden so they can help pollinate the plants.)
  • What do the students do while the plants are growing during the spring?
    • (They make adobe bricks for the waffle beds. They also coat the horno with a fresh coat of adobe.)
  • What plants are harvested in the spring?
    • (Radishes are harvested in the spring.)
  • What happens over the summer in the garden?
    • (Families continue to work in the garden and they gather there for various activities.)
  • When do they harvest the fruits and vegetables?
    • (The fruits and vegetables are harvested at different times, depending on when they are ready.)
  • How do they celebrate the end of the harvest?
    • (They celebrate with a series of lunches that are prepared with many of the garden’s vegetables.)

Once you’ve finished going over the book with your students, carry out a class discussion in which you ask students to list the events from the story. You may want to get students to think about the events that happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the book and sort the events that way. You can write down their ideas on the chalkboard or an interactive whiteboard, being sure to categorize them according to beginning, middle, and end.

After the class has created the list of events, assign one event to each student or pair of students. Make sure that all of the events are assigned to at least one student. Explain to students that they will now do an activity like the one they did at the beginning of the lesson. This time, though, each student or pair of students is tasked with writing a sentence that describes the event they’ve been assigned and then drawing a picture of it. Students can use the It’s Our Garden student sheet for this activity.

When students have finished describing and drawing their event, ask them to get together into three groups according to whether or not their event is from the beginning, middle, or end of the book. Once in their groups, students should then determine the sequence of events in their group and then line themselves up in that order.

Students can share their sentences and drawings with the rest of the class, which can then make changes to the sequence of events in the book. You can finish by having students count off in line and number their drawings. The drawings can then be placed in order on the wall around your classroom.


To assess student understanding, ask students to prepare a poster or hand-drawn booklet that summarizes what happened in the book. They should show that they understand the content of growing a garden. They also should be sure to explain what happens at the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Students can then present their poster or booklet to the class.


For more ideas on how to carry out plant activities, you and your students can go to The Science of Spring.

School Gardening provides ideas and inspiration for planning and maintaining your own school garden.

You and your students can design a multi-step snowperson in Sequencing Snowpeople Lesson: Teaching First, Next, and Last.

Funder Info
Science NetLinks is proud to have Subaru as a funder of this project.

Did you find this resource helpful?

Lesson Details

Grades Themes Type Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards