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Patterns through the Seasons

Elementary, Middle



This unit/module is designed as a curriculum resource for teachers who want to use a school food garden as an "outdoor classroom" where students can experience hands-on learning in many areas of the curriculum. This unit will provide year round learning activities related to growing and maintaining a school food garden, with many related learning outcomes relevant to science, social studies and health for a wide range of age groups. Each learning activity follows a similar structure which includes title, grade level suitability, introduction, materials, procedure and extensions.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource explicitly teaches the following skills:

  • observation and identification of plants
  • planting, nurturing and harvesting plants
  • using plants to maintain a healthy body
  • using plants to decrease erosion, pollution, carbon emissions etc.


This resource has many strengths. It is:

  • up-to-date
  • thorough, both for the teacher and the student
  • easily accessible on the internet
  • clear in its delineation of many of the curricula connections
  • authentic and provides many activities that are extensions to the actual gardening activities, such as a research project on all the places our apples come from, creating a "greenhouse" in a bottle, gaining appreciation for heirloom plants, composting, etc.


The weaknesses in this resource are not abundant but the following can be seen possible issues:

  • there are very few assessment tools included in the resource.
  • the resource is extremely lengthy which makes it unwieldy when working with only a specific group of students.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs of Animals and Plants
        • Seasonal Changes
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education: Healthy choices influence our physical, emotional, and mental well-being
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education: Healthy choices influence our physical, emotional, and mental well-being
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Ecosystems
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Characteristics and Needs of Living Things
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • My Environment
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Air and Water in the Environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Our Local Community
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Growth and Changes in Plants
        • Soils in the Environment
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Habitat and Communities
        • Rocks, Minerals, and Erosion
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Maintaining a Healthy Body
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: Habitats
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs & Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Health Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Discovering Connections Between Self and Wellness: Apply Decisions
        • Discovering Connections Between Self and Wellness: Informed Decisions
        • Discovering Connections Between Self and Wellness: Understanding,Skills and Confidence
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plant Growth and Changes
  • Yukon Territory

Themes Addressed

  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Local Food
    • Organic Farming
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

    • Habitat Restoration
    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
  • This unit contains information regarding heirloom plants. It provides an interesting way in which students are able to appreciate how plants use to be preserved (through seeds, etc.) in the past. It also discusses how we are able to use this information to make better choices for seeds in relation to where they come from in the present and how to maintain them into the future.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Very Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Very Good
  • The range of activities suggested in this resource is diverse in terms of the learning needs of the students as well as different activities throughout the four seasons of the year.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Very Good
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Very Good
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.