Eye-Catching School Gardens Prompt Creative Thinking

A small garden outside a classroom window can prompt creative thinking.

A small garden outside a classroom window or in a school yard can prompt creative thinking.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Catch and keep your students’ attention in the spring, summer or fall of the year when your school garden has some blooms…

…ask an open-ended garden-inspired question that prompts creative thinking in students in grades 3 – 5.

The question…When is a garden outside our school window more than a collection of colorful flowers?

As students ponder your question, invite them to gather with you outside by the garden or by a window that overlooks it.

Point to the garden. Ask your class to silently observe the flowers.

Tell the students that you want them to look for a garden of creativity.

Some may question what you mean by a garden of creativity.

Reply that you’re looking for ideas on how students might see the garden through the eyes of a poet or storyteller, a painter, a dancer, an actor, or a music-maker.

Ask again, What could the garden be besides a bed of pretty flowers? 

Allow some time for students to spontaneously offer thoughts and suggestions.

Leave room for open-ended conversation to encourage creative thinking.

Then take the lead and tell the class that you have some answers of your own, PLUS a choice of garden-inspired activities for them to enjoy.


A garden is more than a collection of planted flowers when we choose to make it…

♣  a garden of wishes to write a poem or story about, beginning with the line: If flowers were wishes, each blossom in this garden is…

How can we creatively bring a garden inside our classroom? Answer: By creating a cut flower arrangement.

How can we creatively bring a garden inside our classroom? Answer: By creating a cut flower arrangement.

Distribute notebook paper to your class.

Ask students to brainstorm about how flowers might be like wishes before they begin their poetry or story writing.

Help prompt their creative thinking with some ideas that your students can visualize.

For example, dandelions are considered to be weeds by many people, while others see beauty in the simple yellow flowers.

Ask more questions that prompt creative thinking:

  • Could a garden of dandelions be like dreams that others made fun of until the dreams had happy endings?
  • Do puffy dandelion seeds blow away into dreams when the wind carries them aloft?
  • Could a garden of multi-colored flowers be like a dream that people of different countries and cultures can live in a peaceful world?
  • What flowers might have blossomed in the dream gardens of a famous historical figures, like Martin Luther King, Jr.; Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing); or Mahatma Gandhi?

When students finish their poetry or story writing, give them time to illustrate their writing.

A garden is more than a collection of flowers when we choose to make it…

a subject for a landscape picture to grid, draw and color.

Most elementary schools, at least in the US, consider art to be “a special.”

But, as any K – 5 teacher knows, budding artists abound in every class and almost every child loves to escape the classroom for time outdoors.

Schedule another arts integration activity that connects picture making with math!

Distribute clipboards, graph paper and pencils to your class and lead them to your outdoor garden.

Ask students to sketch out the flower bed by section on the graph paper, noting the proportion of flowers to flower box or garden plot, etc.

When you return to class, invite kids to color the garden they’ve drawn using color by sections to create an original picture of a flower garden, one that may or may not be true to life.

A garden is more than a collection of flowers when we choose to make it…

the inspiration for dance, music and drama.

After your class has closely observed the outdoor garden, distribute colored construction paper, scissors, glue and markers.

Invite students to cut and assemble flowers or weather elements they might find in the garden.

When their constructions are complete, invite students to stand in a group and wave the flowers or weather elements as if they were blowing in the wind.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a professional artist yourself to prompt creative thinking and gain the attention of K – 5 students with art-based instruction.

The possibilities for integrating the arts into your instructional goals are as endless as a beautiful circular border garden – a garden of creativity.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You