Classroom Activity
Plant a Salad Garden
You'll be amazed at children's answers to the question, "How does your garden grow?"

AGES 4–5


  • potting mix (soil substitute)
  • fertilizer
  • vegetable seeds: cucumber, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, tomato, and
  • bell peppers
  • containers for planting: buckets, basins, cans, plastic or wooden
  • plant containers, or plastic milk crates lined with two heavy weight black plastic bags
  • gardening tools and watering can
  • chart paper, drawing paper, and markers
  • camera and film

Objective: Children will develop science concepts, language, and social skills as they work together to plant a container vegetable garden.

In Advance: Contact families and local nurseries for donations for your planting activity. Invite family members with gardening expertise or local farmers or nursery owners to talk to the children about planting. Buy vegetable seeds that are conducive for container gardens. Collect books and magazines about plants, vegetables, and gardening for the library and science areas of your classroom.


  1. Explain to children that they will plant a container garden to grow "salad" vegetables. Tell children that many people who do not have yards to plant a garden use different types of containers to plant in. Ask them if they have ever planted in containers. Encourage children to share their experiences and what they know about planting and caring for plants. Begin photographing the process of the activity from the planning stages through the harvest period.

  2. Invite children to think of the types of vegetables that are used to make a salad. Ask them to choose several vegetables to grow in their container garden.

  3. Prepare planting charts with children to record what they will need to plant their container garden and how they will care for their plants. Develop charts with the children during classroom visits with gardening experts. Create additional observation charts where the children can record daily observations of the plant growth.

  4. Collect all the necessary materials needed to plant the container garden. Choose a sunny area in your playground to place the container garden and select a day to do the planting. Remind families to dress children in old clothing and to send an extra set of clothes in case children become dirty. Invite a few extra adults to assist so that children can work in small groups.

  5. Save seed packets to attach to craft or wooden sticks to indicate where the seeds are planted. Provide children with drawing paper and markers to write and draw about their planting experience. Plan a time each day to observe, care for and record information about the plants. Teach children how to use the camera to take turns photographing the growth of the plants. Invite them to draw the plants as they are growing.

  6. Plan a special "salad day" to celebrate children's planting success. Invite family members to share this special day or incorporate it into a special potluck family gathering.

Curriculum Connection

Math/Cooking: How to "dress" a salad.
Work with children to develop a questionnaire about the different types of salad dressing people like on their salads. Ask them to predict what will be the three most popular types of salad dressing. Develop a graph based on the information gathered. Assist children in summarizing the information gathered from their graph. Next, ask parents to send in favorite salad dressing recipes. Choose several recipes to make with children for your "salad day" celebration.

A Is for Salad
by Mike Lester
(Putnam Publishing Group, 2000; $9.99)

A Gardener's Alphabet
by Mary Azarian
(Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000; $16)

Rosie Plants a Radish
by Kate Petty
(Andrews McMeel, 1998; $9.95)