In the Life Lab Garden Classroom, we consider a good sign to be one that
you don’t have to repair year after year … unless, of course, you want
sign making to be a project for your students year after year.
If making signs year after year, or having the flexibility of changing signs often is desirable, consider making blank signs with chalkboard paint (available at hardware stores). Paint on a smooth surface of wood or plexiglass. You can use chalk paint pens if you want the sign lettering to last longer than normal chalk. Here are ideas on how to make a weatherproof outdoor chalkboard
By labeling the plants in their garden, kids learn about them and make
the connections between the foods they eat and the plants growing
in the garden. Adults also learn a lot from garden signs. Here in the
Garden Classroom, parents, teachers, and others often say, “Wow I never
knew artichokes could get that big,” or “Kohlrabi sure is crazy looking!”
Labeling herbs often encourages folks to smell them, as if they were just
checking to make sure that the mint smells minty. Interpretive signs can
also enrich the educational potential of your garden.
Where you put your signs matters. Signs that face the sun will fade much
faster than those turned away from the sun. Is your signpost in an area
that is often wet? Garden water features, such as ponds and water streams are beneficial for keeping the soil moist. However, consider rot-resistant posts like plastic lumber or metal between them. Setting wooden posts in concrete can extend the life of a post considerably, especially if there are termites around. And, of course, your target audience is an important factor. Make sure to install your signs at kids’ eye level so they can read them.
Signs don’t have to cost much, and most can be made with reused materials, as you can see in the photo gallery of school garden signs from across the nation. You can also check out these school garden sign photos from the DC area.
If you are looking for more professional signs, check out our garden sign designs. These can be ordered on metal or vinyl. We have had success ordering aluminum and vinyl signs online from Printastic and also from our local sign shops.
Here are some of our favorite garden signs in the gallery:
- Redwood Elementary in Ft. Bragg has individual letter stakes. Kids find each letter and stake in the word.
- At the Garden of Eating, an Early Childhood Education Center in Novato, laminated velcro signs have pictographs instructing kids what they can eat or do with the plants.
- In Life Lab’s Garden Classroom, we have a Tree o’ Tunes sign that we painted onto a discarded piece of plexiglass. The post made from branches added a nice touch.
One last sign resource we like is Never Tear paper. You can print
or photocopy onto this plastic-like paper, which is much more fade
resistant that normal paper that has been laminated. If you have
digital images that you want made into signs, it is a good way to go.
Staples sells this product and, wouldn’t you know, there is a site called
Captain Planet Learning Garden has educational garden signs to download and print.