Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Books reflect our lives and the times that we are living, as the details that form the content weave cultural elements of any given place and time into the words. For this reason, seeing a children’s book about school gardens is a heartening symbol of our current society. It signifies the exciting fact that parents and kids are recognizing the school garden as a common entity.

The new book, “Our School Garden!” by Rick Swann, works to spread that shared experience through his unique Book Layout that mixes verse, lessons and history. We enter the story through the character of Michael, who is starting his first day at a new school in a new city. From his perspective, we get introduced to their thriving school garden, his new friends, and the learning that goes on throughout the year. Each page presents a topical verse, from “The Enormous Carrot” to “Pill Bugs” to “Harvest Day!” which is linked to a short informative lesson on the next page. My favorite is “Three Sisters” where Michael describes planting corn, squash and beans with Julie and Simon. On the next page, we learn about “companion planting” and the reasons that the Native Americans chose these three crops to grow together. Another great section is “Homonym: One Word, Many Meanings” in which we hear about all the ways the word “bank” is used within the context of Michael’s garden, ie: food bank, snow bank, seed bank, etc. Through the concept of a homonym, the important idea of donating to food banks is introduced.

The beautiful illustrative work of Christy Hale lends a perfect visual component to this book, capturing the vibrant colors and dreamy scenes that make up a year in a garden. She brings the reader into each page by offering lots of textures, backgrounds and small details to focus on while also maintaining emphasis on Michael as a character and the garden through his eyes.

Swann is an elementary school librarian in Seattle, and something that started inspiring him to delve into the subject of gardening was his research that uncovered the long history that gardens in schools has had. We get some of this knowledge in Michael’s “Found Poem” verse, along with a lesson about victory gardens during World War I and II and even today at the White House. The Author’s Note at the very end gives us even more insight about the history of Swann’s specific school, and really emphasizes why our country felt compelled to create these special spaces for learning and why it is important to keep that trend alive and well.

For parents and teachers, the author has also included a list of resources and recommendations for other good books about the subject. His website, www.rickswann.com, dives even more into the topic, offering more historical references and images of historic community garden posters, as well as a curriculum guide that has activities to pair with all the poems in the book. He also offers a few fun examples of his own stopmotion animation, up to date blog posts, and a variety of presentations that he is happy to bring to your school.

– Amber Turpin, Life Lab Staff and Civil Eats Writer

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2 days ago

Life Lab

In celebration of the Fall Equinox 🍁we are excited to share a poignant new film called Kiss the Ground Movie🌱Life Lab is honored to have partnered with Kiss the Ground to develop middle school curriculum and accompanying training video for educators, focused on the process of capturing and storing carbon in living organisms such as soil, plants and algae.🌿

This hopeful film showcases part of the solution to climate change that is right under our feet: biosequestration in the soil. Life Lab invites you to join a Global Watch Party for the film, followed by a live Q and A at 6pm PST / 9pm EST. For more info, go to Kiss the Ground Movie 🌍 #Lifelab #regenerativeagriculture #schoolgardens #soilhealth #earthactivist #climatechangesolutions See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Life Lab

It’s World Gratitude Day! 💐Life Lab is grateful for our community and to continue our 40+ year mission of cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden based education🌱#life lab #schoolgardens #education #worldgratitudeday #gratitude See MoreSee Less

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5 days ago

Life Lab

Join us on October 10th at 10:30am for Life Lab’s Fall Benefit: A Celebration of Learning and Community.
Register at LifeLab.org/fall-benefit
This virtual event includes a tour of Life Lab’s evolving work and vision. Plus we have a surprise announcement! We are thankful for your encouragement and support as a member of our Life Lab community. Despite the challenges of this unprecedented year, Life Lab is moving forward with grace and creative innovation. The events of this season have provided opportunities to support our local community and national networks in new ways, expand our reach through virtual connections, and dive more deeply into justice and equity in all of our work. We are strengthening the roots that feed Life Lab programs as we continue to transform the Nature of Education. Continued cultivation of children’s love for learning and connections with healthy food and nature during COVID is essential and brings hope, wonder, and a much needed breath of fresh air. We are excited to share the inspiring work of our dedicated staff with you! #gratitude #schoolgardens #education #lifelab #fundraiser #gardens
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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

🚨Join us TODAY at 11am PST🚨

💚Bringing Social Emotional Learning and
Mindfulness Education to Your Work💚

Join Sheri S. Dollin, M.Ed., Educational Consultant and Mindfulness Facilitator, and Sunny Wight, Co-Founder of Mindfulness First, for an overview of mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the distance learning setting.

Together, we will look at how an understanding of trauma, mindfulness and SEL can help us to manage stress while nurturing the scientifically proven “protective factors” that help prevent and manage trauma and mental health issues both for ourselves and our students.

We will specifically learn about the brain science of stress, and practice mindfulness techniques you can teach to your students. We’ll also take a look at Mindfulness First’s synchronous and asynchronous online work, and quickly understand that it’s easier than we think to integrate mindfulness and SEL into online classrooms. Bring: something to draw with and a piece of paper, for Mindful Art.

For more information and to register click the link below
zoom.us/webinar/register/2015977037712/WN_JbIOXX6RQnCDaw6fNxbz2w See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

🐝Join us this Wednesday 9/9 at 11am PST🐝

💚Bringing Social Emotional Learning and
Mindfulness Education to Your Work💚

Join Sheri S. Dollin, M.Ed., Educational Consultant and Mindfulness Facilitator, and Sunny Wight, Co-Founder of Mindfulness First, for an overview of mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the distance learning setting.

Together, we will look at how an understanding of trauma, mindfulness and SEL can help us to manage stress while nurturing the scientifically proven “protective factors” that help prevent and manage trauma and mental health issues both for ourselves and our students.

We will specifically learn about the brain science of stress, and practice mindfulness techniques you can teach to your students. We’ll also take a look at Mindfulness First’s synchronous and asynchronous online work, and quickly understand that it’s easier than we think to integrate mindfulness and SEL into online classrooms. Bring: something to draw with and a piece of paper, for Mindful Art.

For more information and to register click the link below
zoom.us/webinar/register/2015977037712/WN_JbIOXX6RQnCDaw6fNxbz2w See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

💚Join us this Wednesday 9/2 at 11am PST💚

🌱COVID-Friendly Outdoor Classroom Infrastructure & Design

There is an urgent need to reimagine PreK-12 schools in order to reopen safely and equitably. Repurposing outdoor spaces is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.

Join Sharon Danks, a leader of the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative (www.greenschoolyards.org/covid-learn-outside), author of Asphalt to Ecosystems, and founder of Green Schoolyards America, to learn about her work supporting the creation of outdoor classrooms for reopening schools.

For more information and to register click the below
zoom.us/webinar/register/9215974421157/WN_6vrM2853RXOrAk3wvEy9sQ See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

🚨Join us TODAY at 11am PST🚨

🔎Garden Educator Distance Teaching and Learning🔎

Many months of distance teaching and learning have led to the development of a treasure trove of innovative teaching tools and the launching of new educational program models. For this Virtual Gathering we will offer everyone an opportunity to introduce programs that have been developed/adapted to meet the unique educational needs presented by COVID-19 along with other support resources that have been created to share with educators and families.

Join us as we discuss

🌐 Online lesson plans and other resources for educators and families

✏️ Non-digital tools and methods being used to continue learning from a distance

📏 Ideas for evaluating the impact of your distance teaching efforts

If you’d like to share during this time or have specific questions for us to address, please indicate them in the registration process.

For more information and to register click the link below
zoom.us/webinar/register/5215977036868/WN_7UndcsjiSBq8xE_C6Gs2oQ See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

💚Join us this Wednesday 8/26 at 11am PST💚

🔎Garden Educator Distance Teaching and Learning🔎

Many months of distance teaching and learning have led to the development of a treasure trove of innovative teaching tools and the launching of new educational program models. For this Virtual Gathering we will offer everyone an opportunity to introduce programs that have been developed/adapted to meet the unique educational needs presented by COVID-19 along with other support resources that have been created to share with educators and families.

We would also like to hear about ideas for evaluating the impact of distance teaching efforts. 🧠

For more information and to register click the link below.

zoom.us/webinar/register/5215977036868/WN_7UndcsjiSBq8xE_C6Gs2oQ See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🚨Happening TODAY at 11am PST🚨

🍃School Garden Care and Management During Covid-19 🍃

A lot has changed since we last discussed this topic in April! Join us again to discuss garden care and management. During this virtual gathering School Garden Support Organizations will share how they are supporting their staff, teachers and the community to care for school gardens this fall.

For more information and to register
zoom.us/webinar/register/8715977036277/WN_p-3b2xRXSleM_u3KfVziyg See MoreSee Less

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom
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