Life Lab

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

Category : Garden Tips & Resources

Paper Pots

Paper Pots Make paper pots with your kids and learn about reusing newspaper to help your garden grow! Ages 5+, 30 min+ Reuse newspaper to help get your seeds started in a pot you can make at home with your kids.  There is no need to go out and buy small pots when [...]

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Amazing Reseeding Annuals

Reseeding AnnualsI call them "amazing" because this bunch of plants has the ability to surprise and delight every year that they return to the garden! Self-sowing, or reseeding plants create seeds that re-emerge as plants year after year. Some gardeners refer to these p [...]

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Mini Bouquet


Education Outside School Garden Program Resources

Education Outside’s School Garden Program Resources – An Incredible Collection of Resources to Run a School Garden Program [...]

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Whole Class Garden Caretaker Activities

As part of a University of California Global Food Initiative project that we collaborated on with UC Davis and UC Berkeley, we created the the following activity guides for undergraduates to lead local school children in garden caretaking. These UCSC students are part o [...]

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kids in the garden


Make a Weather Station

Incorporating climate science into a classroom or garden is a fun and enriching way to heighten students' awareness of the natural world around them. Weather stations are compact and versatile and are an excellent tool for teaching children about weather patterns and da [...]

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Make a Weather Station


Independent Stations – Caretaking and Monitoring the Garden

A garden classroom is wonderful space for children to "take ownership" of a corner of their school. Here are examples and resources for independent stations that contribute to garden caretaking and/or engage students in the scientific practice of observation. Many of th [...]

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kids composting


Whitney Cohen on Garden Based Education – An Urban Farm U Podcast

Whitney Cohen on Garden Based Education Examining school garden support organizations to promote natural world learning. Whitney is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, inquiry- and place-based education; strategies for en [...]

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Whitney Cohen


Webinar: Innovative Ways to Fund Your School Garden

View the archived webinar at EdWeb Growing School Gardens Community www.edweb.net/schoolgardens. Life Lab curates the following resources at the Collective School Garden Network: Finding Funds for School Gardens at www.csgn.org/funding-school-gardens More on [...]

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Summer Vacation for Your School Garden

Summer Vacation for Your Garden- Adapted from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2003. Here are some ideas to keep your garden maintained during the summer so that your fall garden will be full of treats to harvest instead of weeds. Garden Guardia [...]

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Outdoor Classroom Management Webinar

View Life Lab and EdWeb's Growing School Garden Community webinar on Outdoor Classroom Management View the archived webinar here! View all our webinars. View Life Lab's resources on effective outdoor classroom management Presenters: Whitney Cohen, Education Dir [...]

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girl with binoculars


Steps to a Successful Garden Workday

-by John Fisher Life Lab's Director of Partnerships and Programs This post is part of our Sustaining School Gardens Series Over the years I have led many garden workdays at the Life Lab Garden Classroom and school gardens across California. In addition to the obv [...]

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kids in the garden


Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

What a great example of repurposing, but do they work? I have researched a bit and asked school gardeners that use these greenhouses if they do work. They can with the right design.     The following sites are the b [...]

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How Do Schools Compost?

A senior intern at Life Lab, Savannah Rugg, created a composting in schools survey (still open!) to better understand how composting functions in schools and school-districts. The survey asks questions regarding types of composting, compost materials, compost manageme [...]

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Types of School Composts chart


The Ultimate School Composting Resource Page

This post is part of our Sustaining School Gardens series. Attention school gardeners: A summary of nearly 70 responses to a school compost survey are described on this blog page. Check it out to see how compost functions in schools! The survey is still open and we [...]

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Saving Water in the Garden

The newest sign in our Garden Sign collection is designed by National Geographic Scientific Illustrator Jose Miguel Mayo and demonstrates tips and tools for saving water. View all our Garden Sign Designs. Tips for Saving Water in the Garden Plant native and dr [...]

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saving water in the garden chart


Fall 2013 Newsletter

View our September 2013 Newsletter View newsletter archives Program Updates Meet Faith - Support our Work Summer Accomplishments Announcing the National School Garden Network The Top Ten of Farm- and Garden-Based Education Garden Tips and Educator Resources [...]

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Detergent Bottle Watering Can

Watering is an activity that kids can do by themselves, with little or no instruction. Having kids water their garden instills a care taking ethic. Kids love to water and having a watering can for every kid makes it even more fun! By collecting the right types of bot [...]

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Spring 2013 Newsletter

View The May 2013 Garden Times - Life Lab's Newsletter Program Updates What We Have Been Up To Since Our Last Newsletter Meet our Senior Program Associate - Amber Turpin and her baby Hazel Update on the California School Garden Training Program California Foo [...]

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School Garden Design Webinar

Life Lab's John Fisher led a photo filled webinar on School Garden Design as part of EdWeb's Growing School Gardens Community. Design Ideas for a Fun, Successful Instructional School Garden Webinar shares school garden design elements from school gardens across the n [...]

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December 2012 Life Lab Newsletter

  You don't want to miss our December 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Educator Resources Planting Fruits Trees and Vines in School Gardens Sustaining School Gardens - Funding Garden Coordinators Book Review: Our School Garden! Recipe: H [...]

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Sustaining School Gardens – Funding Garden Coordinators

Model Policies and Organizations from Across the Country Written by Whitney Cohen. Life Lab Education Director School gardens are fantastic! (To be convinced, view The Garden, A Master Teacher) But that's not what this article's about, so let me start over. School g [...]

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100 Plus Years of Garden-Based Learning

​Check out the Chard those kids are holding!! And we thought that our 35 plus years of school garden work at Life Lab was a long time. Browse through these school garden publications from a 100+ years ago! There are some great illustrations and images in many [...]

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Summer 2012 Newsletter

  You don't want to miss our Summer 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Educator Resources Seed Saving Resources and Video Growing Questions - Inquiry in the Garden Teaching at a Farmer's Market Recipes: Zucchini Baba Ganoush and More Disc [...]

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Seed Saving Resources

Educator Resources for Teaching About Seeds A Handful of Seeds: Seed-Saving and Seed Study for Educators - free download with practical information on seed saving in the school garden and seed history and lore. Fedco Seeds has multiple seed fundraising oppo [...]

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Growing Questions – Inquiry in the Garden

When kids explore Life Lab's Garden Classroom, questions naturally bubble to the surface. Giant drops of water on kohlrabi leaves, gophers peering out of their holes, and hummingbirds drinking from flower vases seem to ignite their curiosity. We find students' [...]

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Spring 2012 Newsletter

  View Newsletter View Archives     Garden Tips and Recipe Make a Human Sundial Edible Crop Planning Recipe - Kale Salad Program Updates The Book of Garden Projects for Kids Update on the California School Garden Training Progra [...]

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Make A Human Sundial

The human sundial in our garden never fails to fascinate children and adults alike. To use it a person stands on the appropriate month marked on the ground and their shadow is cast on a numbered marker that tells the time. A human sundial or analemmatic sundial dif [...]

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2012 Winter Newsletter

You don't want to miss our Winter 2012 Newsletter. In This Issue Garden Tips and Lessons Lesson - Six Seed Trail Mix Making Garden Signs - Tips and Photos Lesson Packet - Feeling Fine With Fresh Foods Recipe - Winter Squash Teacakes Program Updates 2011 Pr [...]

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Planning Annual Vegetable Crops

What are Annual Plants? Annuals plants go from a planted seed to producing a seed within a year. They complete their whole lifecycle in one year or season. Annual plants make up most of our vegetable crops, and many of them can be harvested within 2 to 3 months after s [...]

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Making Garden Signs

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 flexibili [...]

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“Help! I’m the New Garden Parent” – Online Lessons and Resources for Garden Educators

Recently, my friend who has become the "garden parent" for her son's school lamented to me, "I know how to garden, but what am I going to do with 10 kindergarteners in the garden?" There is a world of difference between gardening in your yard and [...]

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Worm Composting Resources and Video

We like our red worms that compost for us at the Garden Classroom. Here are some resources for you to learn and teach about red worms. Life Lab's Ultimate School Composting Website   The Worm Guide: Vermicomposting Guide for Teachers From California Waste [...]

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400 Interns and Counting – Working with Interns at The Garden Classroom

Tips for running an internship program Life Lab Internships Engaging University Students in Local School Gardens: A Toolkit for School Districts, School Garden Support Organizations and Universities 400 Interns and Counting – Working with Interns at The Gar [...]

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Spanish Language Garden Resources

  See English language version of this list Redes y Herramientas Para Buscar Recursos Sobre Huertos Escolares y Educación en Nutrición Red Internacional de Huertos Escolares una herramienta para el intercambio de experiencias, recursos e inspiración. Big [...]

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Farm and Garden Educator Resource Round-up

Farm and Garden Educator Resources that were shared during the "On the farm and in the garden educators" bus tour. 2011 Eco-Farm Bus Tour visited Cesar Chavez Middle School in Watsonville, De LaVeaga School in Santa Cruz, The Life Lab Garden Classro [...]

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Reuse and Repurpose in the Garden

Save money, save your landfill, and teach conservation by reusing materials in your garden. Next time you're off to buy something at the garden center first look around to see what else you have that might do the trick. Check out these resources for creat [...]

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Chicken Coop Design

Many folks have asked us for our chicken coop design. Here it is as a four page PDF(1.4mb). This coop is: easy to clean with its side access door crafty with its viewing windows and hinged roof option secure with a nest box and entrance that can be easily [...]

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Building an Outdoor Classroom

View more of our school garden design resources. View the photos below to see the progression of our site and ideas for creating a Zoo Bed. You can also track the progress on our social media pages. We mainly use Instagram but also have FaceBook and Twitter! We start [...]

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Our Garden Classroom

In 1998, Life Lab Science Program began dreaming about creating an outdoor learning center where people could experience garden-based education.  After much planning, research and design, construction began in April of 2001. Life Lab along with the UC Santa Cruz Cente [...]

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Edible Crop Planning

If you haven't already it is time to start planting for your school harvest.. Planting for a school time harvest takes a bit more planning so that you time your harvests while school is still in session. Generally there are a few harvest windows during the school y [...]

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2 days ago

Life Lab

The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation is proudly celebrating five years of supporting nonprofits that teach students and communities about the goodness of fresh ingredients. This year, the Foundation awarded more than 110 Neighborhood Grants to nonprofit organizations, with Life Lab being one of them!

We are grateful for the continued support from Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. Life Lab is honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Neighborhood Grants. Our partnership reflects Sprouts Farmers Market’s core values of education, environmental stewardship, and nutrition.

With this support we have been able to launch and sustain BackPocketLearning.org, a robust directory of easy to use activities that require no screen time, promote healthy eating and inspires creativity. This site is perfect for teachers and parents alike! BackPocketLearning.org has garnished over 7k users from all over the world, in almost every continent, since our launch in April.

Sprouts Farmers Market

#sproutsfarmersmarket #MyLifelab #local #nonprofit See MoreSee Less

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7 days ago

Life Lab

🌱 Join the SGSO Leadership Institute 🌱

Every year, we host a School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute to provide an opportunity for school garden professionals from across the country to collaborate, learn from one another, and develop resources to share with a national audience. Collectively, SGSO Institute participants have improved their own work while also sharing ideas and resources to help others do the same.

In the face of the myriad challenges of 2020, all of you in SGSOs across the country are innovating in creative and inspiring ways to sustain and enhance garden education for their students. We are eager for other SGSOs to learn from you! With generous support from Whole Kids Foundation , we are pleased to be able to provide stipends for peoples’ contributions to these Working Groups.

This year’s SGSO Institute is open to newcomers and SGSO Institute Alumni!

🚨 Applications are due November 6, 2020 🚨

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply, visit: lifelab.org/sgso See MoreSee Less

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1 week ago

Life Lab

Life Lab celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with special recognition of the land on which our gardens grow and by sharing beautiful family friendly resources highlighting indigenous storytelling and efforts of Native peoples to reclaim food sovereignty, cultural identity, and native land stewardship.

The Life Lab Land Acknowledgement, now shared at all formal gatherings in our Garden Classroom on the UCSC campus:

“The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”

*Land acknowledgement developed in partnership with the
Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun
Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum.

Learn more about the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the
www.amahmutsunlandtrust.org/

Life Lab is honored to support the film, GATHER (Gather) with a
FREE virtual screening on October 30th at 7pm

📷 credit: Amah Mutsun Land Trust website See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Looking for some #garden #joy? Join us for a sweet sharing of Life Lab Reimagined: program updates, inspired learning, and community at our Fall Benefit this Saturday at 10:30am 🌱Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit 🌱Learn about our New Curriculum, New Life Lab Educator Certification Program, New Staff, and New Garden Additions👀Plus all the beautiful work we’re doing to support school garden education locally and nationally🌻Participants are automatically eligible to win a raffle prize courtesy of @synergyclothing ❤️ #schoolgarden #education #kisstheground #teachtheyouth #landstewardship #fundraiser See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

It’s Harvest Festival Week🌻happening virtually October 5-10th. A collaboration between the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems UCSC CASFS Farm Life Lab​, and students of UCSC Food Systems Working Group
Mark your calendar! The week-long series is full of fun virtual activities for all ages, with live streamed musical performances, a lecture on agroecology from a panel of experts, and ending the week with Life Lab’s #Funtastic Fall Benefit highlighting new program updates and staff/garden additions. Register at www.LifeLab.org/fallbenefit

Visit bit.ly/ucscharvestfest for a complete schedule of events and registration instructions.

Monday, October 5
7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Life Lab Backyard Chickens Q&A

Tuesday, October 6
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Saving Seeds, Sustaining Our Communities

Wednesday, October 7
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
The evolution of agroecology as a practice, a research discipline, and a social movement

7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Nurture Yourselves With Nature!

Thursday, October 8
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Cider Donut Workshop and The Everything Apple Panel

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Celebrating Queers and Nature

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Giant Green Anemone! Going Deep Into Local Tide Pool Explorations

Friday, October 9
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Planting Seeds For Success: Community Connections to Water Your Garden for Wellness!

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
What is the Food Systems Working Group and what does it do?

5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Rachel Carson Garden Cooking + Poetry Workshop/Mic!

Saturday, October 10
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Life Lab Fall Benefit Gathering
#schoolgardens #gardeneducation #lifelab #harvest #gratitude See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

Happy weekend everyone ☀️Enjoy this sweet share of the UCSC Farm featuring Life Lab 🌱and our chickens! 🐓We look forward to sharing more with all of you as part of our upcoming Fall Benefit on October 10th. Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit youtu.be/uEAv4SabLoA See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks 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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1 month 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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1 month 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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1 month 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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Stock up your Garden Classroom

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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