Growing Minds Day by Day: Week of April 13

This week’s theme is starting a garden. Our “Growing Minds Day by Day” educational resource lists are designed for families and educators to use during the COVID-19 quarantine and beyond. 

Growing Minds Day by Day

Week of April 13, 2020 – Starting a Garden


We hope these resources will provide you with inspiration, or at least a starting point, as you navigate this new world of social distancing and home-schooling, day by day. Ready to dive in and get growing? This week we’re talking about how to start a garden!

Books of the Day for Monday, 4/13: Lola Plants a Garden and We are the Gardeners

Happy Monday! This week we’re sharing two books about starting a garden. If your family doesn’t already have a garden, we hope these stories will provide the inspiration and gentle nudge you need to try growing your own flowers, fruits, or vegetables at home. 

Lola Plants a Garden: First up is a selection for Preschool to Kindergartners from the Growing Minds lending library: Lola Plants a Garden, written by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. Book-loving Lola is inspired by a collection of garden poems that she reads with her mom. She wants to plant her own garden of beautiful flowers, so she and Mommy go to the library to check out books about gardening. They choose their flowers and buy their seeds. They dig and plant. And then they wait. Watch a video of Lola Plants a Garden read aloud on You Tube. If your child enjoy’s Lola’s story, find home activity ideas inspired by the book here

We are the Gardeners: Younger and older readers will enjoy our next selection, We are the Gardeners, written by Joanna Gaines and illustrated by Julianna Swaney. In this book, Joanna Gaines (of HGTV Fixer Upper fame) and her kids chronicle their adventures starting a garden, describing the mishaps and joys that happen along the way. They begin with a story many aspiring gardeners can relate to–accidentally loving their potted fern plant to death by over-watering it! Watch a We are the Gardeners read-aloud on YouTube to see the beautiful garden the family ultimately created and hear about the lessons learned along the way. 

More books: Looking for more garden-themed children’s book ideas? Visit the Growing Minds’ farm to school literature database to browse our collection of recommended books on farms, gardens, and cooking. Type “gardening” or “seeds” into the search bar to discover more books that align with this week’s theme.  

Poem of the Day: In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’re also sharing a poem each Monday in April. Today we’re sharing a “poemized” excerpt from one of Growing Minds Program Director Emily Jackson’s favorite books, Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant. 


“He knows he isn’t real.

A scarecrow understands right away that he is just borrowed parts

made to look like somebody.


But he knows this, too: that there is a certain wonder going on around him

Seeds are being planted,

and inside them there are ten-foot-tall sunflowers

and mammoth pumpkins

and beans that just go on forever.


And though the scarecrow knows that he can as quickly be turned back into straw and buttons

as he was turned into a man,

he doesn’t care.


He has been with the owls in evening and the rabbits at dawn.

He has watched a spider work for hours

Making a web like lace.

He has seen the sun tremble

and the moon lie still.”


Recipe of the Day for Tuesday, 4/14: Kale Chips

Enjoy a tasty and healthy snack with your children this week by whipping up a batch of Baked Kale Chips together. Kids will enjoy the tactile experience of tearing the leaves into large pieces. Greens, like kale and Swiss chard, are some of the first local crops to show up at farmers markets in the spring. 

If it’s time to restock your veggie bin with kale (and more!) and you’re local to Asheville, consider shopping safely at the new ASAP Farmers Market at A-B Tech, organized in response to the COVID-19 emergency to ensure public health. The market takes place on Saturdays from 9 am to noon. Listen to a recent episode of ASAP’s Growing Local Radio series to hear about this new farmers market

Baked Kale Chips


  • 1 bunch (about 6 oz.) of local kale
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Rinse and dry the kale. Remove the stems and tough center ribs. 
  3. Tear or cut kale into large pieces, then toss with olive oil and salt. 
  4. Arrange kale in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp. 


Online Resources of the Day for Wednesday, 4/15: Local Gardening Resources

If you don’t already have a garden at home, we highly encourage you to use this extra time at home to start one with your kids! 

Lesson Plans: The Growing Minds website features several lesson plans that can help you and your children start a home garden. Our Garden Planning lesson can help your family imagine various garden types and designs, then decide on what you want to grow. Not sure what kind of garden to plant? Consider planting a Literacy Bed that incorporates plants and objects from one of your child’s favorite books, or plant a “pizza garden” featuring your favorite pizza ingredients, like tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil. Let kids explore how plants grow with the help of our Seed Starting lesson. 

Start small: If your family is brand new to gardening, start small–a large pot filled with soil will be perfect for learning to garden, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to enjoy a little bit of homegrown food this spring or summer. If you’re feeling more ambitious, Organic Growers School has put together a guide for transforming your lawn into garden beds. You can also visit the OGS online Gardener’s Library for tips on container gardening, improving your soil, organic weed and pest control, and more. 

Purchase seeds: Flower, herb, fruit, and vegetable seeds can be purchased online from our friends at Asheville-based Sow True Seed

Purchase plant starts: If starting your own seeds seems daunting, you can simply purchase seedlings to transplant directly into your new garden. Seedlings, also known as plant starts, can be purchased from local farmers markets, including the ASAP Market at A-B Tech. Find out where else to look for starts and get an update on which markets are open this week in Asheville in our Fresh at Farmers Markets report on Not near Asheville? See a list of market dates throughout the region here.

Planting Calendar: Not sure when it’s time to start planting the crops you want to grow? The NC State Extension service has put together helpful fruit and veggie planting guides for both the NC Mountain and Piedmont/Coastal Plain regions. 


Activity of the Day for Thursday, 4/16: Seed Tapes

Seed Tapes

It’s time to plant our spring gardens! You can plant many things, like radishes, lettuce, carrots, beets, and spinach by seed, and you can buy plant starts for other veggies, like kale, chard, and cabbage. Children love getting their hands dirty putting seeds and plants in the ground. To help them succeed in planting seeds at the correct spacing (which can be found on the seed packet), consider making a “seed tape” with them.


  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 cup of cold water; cook on medium heat constantly stirring. Once it starts to boil, remove from the heat and let cool. Once cooled, put the paste in an airtight container.
  2. Cut a paper towel into strips one inch wide.
  3. Using a q-tip, put dots of the paste on the paper towel about one inch apart. While the paste is still wet, place a seed in the paste.
  4. Plant the entire seed tape in the garden and cover with an inch of soil.

Fun fact: Growing Minds contributed this seed tape activity and tips for starting an edible garden with kids to the book Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson!


Freaky Friday, 4/17: Spring Garden Walk, + other at-home educational resources

Take a spring garden walk: Take a walk through the garden or neighborhood today and look for signs that it is spring. What animals and plants do you see? What is the weather like? Make a list of all the signs of spring you can see, smell, and hear.

At-home learning from UNC-TV: UNC-TV and the NC Department of Public Instruction are partnering to support school-age children learning at home by providing free, curriculum-informed, over-the-air content that is widely accessible to students—especially those with limited or no internet access. They’re airing two blocks of programming for grades 4-12 each week day. Visit the UNC-TV website to view their weekly educational programming schedule


That’s it for this week. Next week’s Growing Minds Day by Day theme will be Earth Week! Be sure to check back next week for new resources. Click here to access Day by Day resources from past weeks

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