STEM Garden and Life-cycles

Let it Grow integrated topic:

STEM Gardening Process 

We used the Engineering Design Process to design and plant the garden.


engineering process

  1. Students identified need: they believed students weren’t looking after the school garden areas.
  2. Researched: we identified questions and researched using the internet and interviewed the school groundskeeper. Students were put into groups and needed to research possible vegetables and choose one their group would plant.
  3. Possible Solutions: Students draw drafts of 4 possible garden designs
  4. Select a promising solution: Students selected one of their designs to draw up in more detail. Staff selected 4 ‘finalist’ designs that students voted on. The class then discussed any alterations they wanted to make to the design.
  5. Create: plant the garden, on-going maintenance and monitoring (graphing the plant growth).
  6. Test/Evaluate: Redesign as needed: Reflect on the garden progress and make necessary on-going adjustments (eg. watering scheduled, pest control, additional shade)

STEM Gardening Resources 

Garden Design Examples 

Gardening Ideas

Ziplock Bag Greenhouse: write names of seeds on the front of the bag, put in cotton wool, wet with spray bottle, put seeds in, tape to window where seeds will get necessary sunlight


Compostable & Biodegradable Seedling Pots: fold newspaper to make pot, add potting mix, add seeds, water.

***Paperclips could be used instead of staples. Then the paperclips could be removed before planting.

Bird Feeders: apples, gelatin, screw, string, birdseed and water.


Scarecrow: We used straw for padding and some employees from Bunnings came and helped my class assemble the scarecrow.

copy 2.jpg

Garden Scavenger Hunt- Students LOVED this 

Garden Scavenger Hunt- editable resource, Word Document

Scavenger hunt

Cooking: Students did the following…

  • Researched possible recipes
  • Chose a recipe and provided a rational for why we should use their recipe . Teachers then chose a recipe, based on agreed success criteria.
  • Cooked Zucchini, Carrot and Cheddar fritters, using mostly school-grown ingredients.

Gardening Resources

Gardening in the future and the role of new technologies  

Sustainability Connections 


Science Resources 

  • Lesson Ideas: Sort living and non-living; identify characteristics of living things; identify pet’s needs and human needs; explore seeds; observations of bean plant growth; experiment designed based on student questions;  compare similarities and differences of flowers; sort pictures based on means of seed dispersal; diagrams of fruit. See Primary Connections resources (below) for details of lessons.
  • Click here for science inquiry and experiment resources, including how to ask good questions and write a hypothesis.
  • Science Primary Connections resources available via for teachers in Australian schools: Plants in Action . Other related Primary Connections: Feathers, Fur or LeavesFriends or foes
  • Hire live animals and nature kits in Adelaide:  

The Spiny Leaf Insect is a good animal to research, and create a visual representation of the life-cycle. Unlike many life-cycles, such as a frog life cycle, you can’t simply look up the life cycle on Google Images. Students need to read and understand written information about this inspect and their apply these understandings to create a visual representation of the life-cycle.

Wonder Wall- Students posed questions which were answered by their peers


Scientific Inquiry: 

Student observations


Student Designed Experiment IMG_1156

  • Students learn to pose ‘good’ scientific questions.
  • The question my class decided on was: Will the absence of a seed coat effect a plant’s ability to grow?

Click here for science inquiry resources: including science report template.


Literacy- Life cycle Explanations 

These are videos I show students to introduce the vocabulary and stages of the life cycle.

  • Flowering plant:

Start at 1.16m

  • Turtles
  • Bearded Dragons

Recommend playing first video on X2 speed

Grammar focus: noun groups and present tense, as well as organisational features of explanation texts.

Literacy scaffolding, gradual release of responsibility 

  1. Explore: In pairs, students look at examples of explanation texts to identify language and organisational features. Students share what they found.
  2. Explicit Teaching: Explicit teaching of explanation features, through identifying them on the Interactive White Board with students.
  3. Students deconstruct/ reconstruct: Students then cut-out and re-arrange an explanation text and use coloured pencils to underline language features.
  4. Teaching of language features and grammar
  5. Shared writing: Students and the teacher engage in join construction, to create an explanation text.
    • ‘Build the field’: Watch YouTube clips of the life-cycle. Identify key words, for a class word wall.
    • Plan the explanation
    • Shared writing of using key words in the plan, and visual information to write a formal explanation of a life-cycle.
  6. Independent writing: Students go through the processes of  building their background knowledge, planning and writing.
  7. Students then self-reflect. We go through the checklist I have them at the start of the writing time and students identify whether or not they have met the criteria. Students then write a ‘cool’ and a ‘warm’ comment. Click here for resources and cool and warm comments.
  8. Students read and reflect on the ‘cool’ and ‘warm’ teacher comments. Students need to share with their partner what they did well and what they are going to improve on for next time. I then ask some students to share with the whole class- I have been surprised that students are unembarrassed about sharing their ‘cool’ comment.
  9. Students then repeat the steps of: independent writing, student self reflection and read and reflect, to write another explanation, improving on their first explanation text. Students use a new topic, eg. explain the lifecycle of a different animal.

Literacy Vocabulary- students initial vocabulary is in green, and students added to the list in yellow, as we learnt more vocabulary



Classroom Inspiration 

Great Class Pets- Tadpoles, Spiny Leaf Inspects and Bearded Dragon (hired) 

  • Tadpoles are a particularly good class pet if studying life-cycles and metamorphosis.
  • Spiny Leaf Insect and Bearded Dragon are good as students can hold these pets.

Click here to see more examples of STEM units which use the engineering design process


Click here for ‘real world’ inspiring examples of STEM


Click here to see science inquiry and experiment resources.

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