Discovery Gardens

Topic Progress:

Discovery gardens in early learning programs are a strategy being used to support children in connecting to nature and gain an appreciation for their environment.  Discovery gardens are a place for children to engage in exploration and discovery that extend their learning about ecological perspectives (Wake, 2004, Dietze & Kashin, 2016).  Discovery gardens differ from places where children plant flowers or food. To read more about what a discovery garden is, click on the words below.

Discovery Garden

Discovery gardens provide children with a venue for interactive exhibits that may have been created by early learning teachers, parents, children and/or the community. Discovery garden space is specifically designed to intrigue children to explore and discover aspects of the exhibit (Wake, 2004, Dietze & Kashin, 2016).  Discovery gardens “allow children to direct their own learning while in a secure and receptive environment of ‘having fun, at play.’  The resulting strong sense of ‘ownership of place’ that is engendered sets learners up well for gaining knowledge, independence and feeling empowered” (p. 222).

Discovery gardens are intended to offer children places to be intrigued, discover new knowledge and integrate new learning with previous perspectives.  Early learning teachers support children in their discoveries.  They prod, offer open-ended questions, support children in engaging research and collectively share their learning.

View the PowerPoint to see how an experience in the forest was the beginning of Maya engaging in discovery. Then, think about how you and children can engage in developing a discovery garden.  How do you support the children in telling their stories and new learning?