School Garden Journal

Grade Levels



Students will
  • keep a journal to express what they think and feel about the school garden and to reference experiences.
  • use a journal to monitor their learning by identifying garden concepts and skills they need to improve.

PA Standards Addressed

  • Teaching Methods
  • Materials
  • Getting Ready
  • Doing the Activity
  • Background Extensions
  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Resources

Pennsylvania Environment and Ecology Standards Addressed


Other Pennsylvania Standards Addressed

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening
  • Teaching Methods:  Inquiry, observation, reading, writing, record data, graph/map, research, art form
  • Materials
  • Journals, notebooks, or folders
  • Pencil and pens
  • Crayons, markers, other art materials
  • Older Students:  Copies of Jane Goodall’s journal excerpts
  • Younger Students: 2 blank pieces of paper for each student


Throughout history, people have kept journals or logs to record many different things.  A journal may be a personal account of one’s life - a reflection tool to look back on.  It can be a source book that tracks observations over a period of time that can later be used to interpret all of the information gathered.  Jane Goodall’s journal reflects this information on her study of chimpanzees from 1960 to the present.  They can be records of past history such as the journal that Merriweather Lewis kept during the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800’s.  This journal gave us valuable information on what the country was like before European settlement.

Student journals allow teachers to access students’ understandings, feelings, and attitudes and how they may change over a period of time.  They can be kept throughout the year and can be used for writing descriptions, drawings, or photos of student activities and projects.  The possibilities are as endless as a teacher’s imagination.

Getting Ready

Older Students

Pass out an excerpt from Jane Goodall’s journal on chimpanzees for the students to read. In small groups or pairs have them list things that could be learned about chimpanzees from this entry. Discuss the lists as a class.

Younger Students

Give each student two pieces of blank paper and ask them to draw two pictures that fit the statement:  “When I think of a garden, I think of….”  Have them share their pictures with the class.

Doing the Activity

  1. Tell students that they will be keeping a journal of their experiences in the school garden throughout the year.  They will be able to record their thoughts, feelings, or experiences.
  2. There are two types of journaling and both will be used.

    This type of journaling is when students write their thoughts, experiences, feelings, or newly acquired knowledge.  They may write or draw in them daily or whenever they wish.  One approach for primary students is to have them draw pictures about something in the garden that they saw, heard, or felt.  They can use their writing skills by developing simple sentences to describe these pictures.  Or, the students can dictate their ideas to the teacher, who writes them down.

    This type of journaling follows a set format or complies with certain criteria.  Individual expression and creativity should be a component of this approach as well.  Require students to use their journal in one or more of the following ways:
    • Record their experiences, knowledge, thoughts, and feelings about the garden.
    • Summarize what they learned in an activity.
    • Maintain a reference file of garden concepts and skills.
    • Inventory projects and activities to demonstrate their knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to the garden.
  3. Discuss with students their opinions about keeping a journal.  Ask about other ways they could use a journal.  Throughout the year or grading period, ask students how they can use the journal to monitor their work.


If the journal is being graded, one or more of the following criteria can be used:  accuracy of content, creativity, originality, evidence of increased knowledge.


  • Students can use the journal as field journals, sketching pictures of plants and animals in the garden.
  • Use the journal to write “I Wonder” questions that they think about in the garden and then answer when they get back to the classroom.


  • The Watercourse and Western Regional Environmental Education Council, Project Wet, 1995
  • Jane Goodall Institute


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductable as allowed by law.