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29/03/2022

Free calendar of seasonal gardening activities to boost learners' wellbeing

 

Spring has sprung! Celebrate the passing of the spring equinox and the beginning of planting season with our free seasonal calendar of gardening tasks and ideas. This one-page resource is packed full of over 70 useful tips and activities to engage learners with their environment and foster positive physical and mental wellbeing.

The free calendar links to challenges from ASDAN’s Gardening Short Course – a flexible, internally-moderated and multi-level award aimed at learners aged 13 to 19. Cathy Marsden, author of the course, says gardening activities can bring substantial benefits to learners.

Instilling resilience in young people

“The course is designed to help learners develop essential skills such as resilience,” says Cathy. “In the practical gardening activities, you have to dig the soil, add nutrients, sow the seeds and learn how to protect your plants. It requires commitment and skill to see a project through and reap the rewards. Students will learn that through regular and continuous effort, they will achieve good results. Resilience and commitment to completing a task are important qualities for life; this course is an engaging way of instilling these characteristics in young people.

Developing a sense of ownership

“The course encourages learners to re-connect with their environment and communities at a gentle pace. Learners gain knowledge of companion planting (the growing of different plants species close together for expected benefits in productivity) and crop rotation, the importance of sustainable practice and how gardening promotes a healthy lifestyle and an understanding of where our food comes from. Gardening develops a sense of responsibility and self-management while bringing a great sense of achievement,” says Cathy.

“While those who like getting their hands dirty will enjoy the course, it also includes great activities for learners who prefer to work inside as well as creative individuals looking for an outlet to express themselves.”

Cathy Marsden, author or ASDAN's Gardening Short Course

Practical, person-centred learning

Cedarbank is an additional support needs (ASN) high school in Livingston, Scotland, and delivers ASDAN’s Gardening Short Course as part of its outdoor learning offer. Alison Lindsay, Deputy Headteacher at Cedarbank School, tells us why Cedarbank chose the course.

“We wanted to ensure our students enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible and for them to gain accreditation for their learning at the same time,” says Alison. “We love the Gardening Short Course student books. They allow personalisation and choice for pupils, are easy to follow and are accessible for pupils with literacy difficulties.

Cedarbank School students at local garden centre choosing slabs as a base for a fire pit

Encouraging community engagement

“Both staff and students have loved the opportunity to link with other schools outdoors through this course, which we were able to do through the Covid-19 restrictions. We visited a local primary school allotment and painted pallets for another primary school that wanted them for their playground.

“Our learners loved creating a pond and wildlife area over several weeks and watching it grow through the seasons,” says Alison. “Other brilliant activities that we were able to accredit through the course included making chutney and designing a label, making a bug hotel, visits to a local garden centre and growing vegetables in our school greenhouse.

"There’s a wide variety of tasks in the course and the option at the end of each module to write your own tasks too – teachers were able to adapt tasks to suit pupil interests as a result.”

For Module 6 Construction in the garden, Cedarbank School learners removed an old washing machine drum to build a fire pit

Building core skills and creativity

“Through ASDAN’s Gardening Short Course, our learners have improved their confidence, gained core skills, developed independent learning and presentation skills as well as increasing their community engagement.

“Even if your centre doesn’t have a big garden, there are so many activities that learners can do in a small area, such as using recycled objects as planters, creating nature-inspired artwork and researching species,” says Alison. "If you want a pupil-centred programme in a format that is well laid out and easy to follow – go for the ASDAN Gardening Short Course. We love it!”

Let us know how your learners get on with the gardening activities in this free calendar. Share their achievements by tagging us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

More free activities

Have you seen our new free cooking and meal preparation resources? Read our recent blog on how you can help learners develop practical cooking skills, as well as personal, social and work-related skills.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about our courses.