Garden Adjective Adventure
Topic: literature
Time to Complete: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Grade Level: K-2
Location(s): Indoor, Outdoor
Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Lesson Plan
A garden space is full of things (both living and non-living) that engage the senses. In this lesson, students use the garden as a muse for growing their descriptive writing skills.


In this lesson students will:

  • Learn how to identify an adjective
  • Practice using a variety of adjectives to describe things in the garden
  • Craft a written description for at least one garden object


  • A copy of What’s in the Garden? By Marianne Berkes
  • Chart paper or whiteboard
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Clipboard (or make your own with a piece of cardboard and paper clip)

Laying the Groundwork

Read What’s in the Garden? By Marianne Berkes. This book provides 12 poetic riddles describing common fruits and vegetables grown in the garden. If a copy of this book is not available, you can substitute any collection of fruit and vegetable riddles.

After reading each passage and figuring out the answer to each, walk students through examining the descriptive language that is provided that helped them solve the riddle. Specifically go through and identify the adjectives used by the author.

Next create a chart labeled with each of the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Read through the descriptions again and sort the descriptive language used by the author into categories based on the senses they engage.


  1. Visit your school garden or a nearby green space and share with your students that they are going to create their own riddles about things they find there. Give them each a piece of a paper, a pencil, and something to write on such as a clipboard, piece of cardboard, or a notebook.
  2. Find an object or two to use as a demonstration. Model for kids how to use each of their senses to describe the object and to take notes of their observations.
  3. Next, ask students to spread out and find one or more objects of their own to explore with their senses. Instruct them to write down their observations.
  4. Circle up outside or return to the classroom and give students a chance to write a riddle about one of the objects they observed. Make sure to tell them not to include the object’s name in their description. Encourage them to use as many adjectives as they can think of and to underline the adjectives they use.
  5. Once they are done, give students a chance to share their riddles with the class or in small groups.* If time allows, you can add the adjectives and other descriptive language they used to the senses chart you started in the Laying the Groundwork.

*For fun, you can turn the riddle reading into a game. Have the writer read their riddle and then ask the other students to write down what their answer. The writer will get a point for every person who correctly identifies what is being described.

Making Connections

A sensory garden is a space that is specifically designed with plants and other objects to engage the senses. Teach students about some common Sensory Garden Plants and then have them Design a Dream Sensory Garden.

For inspiration, you may want to share one of these videos showcasing school sensory garden programs:

Branching Out

Science: Use this lesson as a starting point for discussing and exploring living versus non-living things in the environment.

English: Students can expand on the riddles further by turning them into poems. For ideas, check out the lesson Growing Poems. Older students can also do a deeper dive by using tools such as a dictionary or thesaurus to create garden riddles/poems and also by going beyond adjectives to employ other descriptive writing techniques like similes and metaphors

Link to Standards

This lesson is designed to provide real world and practical experiences while also encouraging student-led discovery, through hands-on and inquiry-driven exploration opportunities. The activities included are designed to help inspire educators working within the NGSS and Common Core framework. Some of the Common Core standards considered during the development of this lesson include:

With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Use frequently occurring adjectives.

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Use adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.

Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).

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