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A Garden Story:


Riverbend Head Start uses gardening to help children make connections for where their food comes from. Children are more likely to try fruits and vegetables if they have a hand in growing them. Therefore, Riverbend Head Start and Family service’s goal is to teach children where their food comes from while simultaneously accomplishing classroom learning objectives (math, science, literacy, vocab, socialization, fine, and gross motor) through gardening.

To accomplish this goal site staff and the Nutrition Specialist formed teams in January and February to develop plans for site gardens. The Nutrition Specialist developed curriculum which addressed classroom learning objectives and implemented sample lessons throughout the year. A sample lesson is listed below.

Activity: Children plant starter plants into gardening beds. Allow children to dig and place starter plants. Then fill up watering containers and assist them with watering plants. Children planted basil, spearmint, strawberries, and spinach seeds.

Math Have children count out seeds that they will plant. Have children measure the height of starter plants with a yardstick or ruler. Keep a chart of the different heights.
Science Have children explain what the roots are for? Ask children to identify parts of the plant.
Literacy Ask children to recognize letters on tags of plants.
Language/vocab Ask children to describe what they did last lesson (weeding the garden beds). Ask children to verbalize how the leaves feel, stem feels, etc. Ask children to smell the mint and describe what other things smell like the plant (gum, toothpaste)
Creative Arts Children are allowed to create rows any direction when planting the lettuce and spinach seeds.
Motor Development Children use tools to dig holes for plants, spread dirt, water plants, pull weeds, etc.
Individualization Allow children to dig and water as much on their own as possible. Allow children to vote on where to plant the plants in the garden.
Social/Emotional Children will have to work together on their garden plots. Children will take turns digging and planting and watering.


Site locations started seeds in the classroom, cleared and prepared garden beds, and planted and maintained starter plants throughout the year.

Riverbend Head Start has raised garden beds at all sites as well as a large garden fenced in garden at Essic Robinson. At the end of the year some of the Essic classrooms were able to get out and transfer the seeds that the kids had started in the classrooms earlier in the year. A parent in the Head Start program showed staff how to till and form rows that would later keep the garden plants from drowning during weeds of rain. Several Riverbend staff assisted with the weeding and maintenance of the garden. Family advocates bag up vegetables so that they can be delivered to the families during home visits. Our Nutrition Specialist develops recipes to go with the vegetables that are being sent out to our families. Our Nutrition Specialist also films cooking videos and demonstrations of the recipes to teach families how to cook with the produce from the garden. All videos can be found on the Riverbend Health-Nutrition YouTube channel.

Currently, Family advocates take families out to the garden to harvest produce and to learn about the gardening process. The below picture shows a parent teaching her child the difference between vegetable plants.

Riverbend Head Start used its best resource; parents, staff, and children to create and maintain its gardening program. Volunteers have also come out to assist and increase non-federal share.

Riverbend Head Start and Family services accomplished its goal of teaching children where their food comes from while simultaneously accomplishing classroom learning objectives (math, science, literacy, vocab, socialization, fine, and gross motor) through gardening. Though this process Riverbend gardens also accomplished goals of: Parent involvement, increasing children’s physical activity, staff wellness, staff team building, and providing some families with free produce.

Riverbend Head Start plans to continue its gardens and push for more and more staff and parent involvement.


Riverbend Head Start & Family Services also has a YouTube channel which has videos for parents to view supporting healthy habits.  Video’s include cooking demonstrations, helpful hints, ways to use your fresh produce and incorporating water into your routines.


Please check out this latest video with Robert and Kenlea. They walk us through Essic Robinson’s garden. If you haven’t been down, come by and check it out, pull some weeds and get some produce.


Collinsvile Center

We had fun investigating pets through our Pet Study in the Creative Curriculum. Taylor, our parent volunteer that works at the pet store, taught children all about pet safety. She discussed and showed the children different kinds of pet foods, role played how to approach animals, and shared facts about animals on the display board.


We also enjoyed investigating food using the Creative Curriculum Food Study. The students helped plant various veggie seeds in recycled egg cartons. The students helped water the seeds and sprouts weekly. When the weather got warmer our zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, strawberries, and squash were transferred into the outside garden.