A.5.Fostering Ecological Literacy in Kindergarten_ The Impact of Garden-Based Learning

In today’s rapidly changing world, fostering ecological literacy from a young age is crucial in nurturing future generations who are environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and equipped to address complex sustainability challenges. Garden-based learning provides a unique and transformative opportunity for kindergarteners to develop ecological literacy by engaging directly with nature in a hands-on, immersive environment. Through the UrbSTEAM project, which emphasizes teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) through urban garden-based learning, kindergarteners are not only learning about ecological concepts but are becoming stewards of the environment.

Understanding Ecological Literacy

Ecological literacy goes beyond mere knowledge about the natural world; it encompasses an understanding of the interconnectedness of ecological systems, the impacts of human actions on the environment, and the importance of sustainability. Ecologically literate individuals possess the knowledge, skills, and values needed to make informed decisions and take responsible actions that promote environmental health and well-being.

The Role of Garden-Based Learning in Fostering Ecological Literacy

Garden-based learning serves as a powerful tool for fostering ecological literacy in kindergarten children. By immersing themselves in the garden environment, children have the opportunity to observe, explore, and interact with living organisms, ecosystems, and natural processes firsthand. Through hands-on experiences such as planting seeds, caring for plants, and observing wildlife, children develop a deep appreciation for the complexity and beauty of the natural world.

Key Components of Garden-Based Learning for Ecological Literacy

Observation and Inquiry: Garden-based learning encourages children to observe and ask questions about the natural world around them. By engaging in inquiry-based activities, children develop critical thinking skills and a curiosity-driven approach to learning about ecology.

Experiential Learning: Children learn best through direct experiences. Garden-based learning provides opportunities for children to engage in experiential learning by actively participating in garden activities, such as planting, watering, and harvesting. Through these experiences, children develop a sense of connection to the environment and a deeper understanding of ecological concepts.

Cultivation of Care and Responsibility: By caring for plants and animals in the garden, children learn about the importance of stewardship and responsibility. They develop empathy for living beings and a sense of accountability for their actions, laying the groundwork for environmentally responsible behavior in the future.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Garden-based learning integrates multiple disciplines, including science, mathematics, language arts, and social studies. Children explore ecological concepts such as plant life cycles, food webs, and environmental conservation, while also developing skills in literacy, numeracy, and communication.

The Impact of Garden-Based Learning on Ecological Literacy

Research has shown that garden-based learning has a profound impact on children’s ecological literacy and environmental attitudes. Studies have demonstrated that children who participate in garden-based learning activities show greater knowledge of ecological concepts, increased interest in nature, and a stronger sense of environmental stewardship. Moreover, garden-based learning has been linked to positive outcomes such as improved academic achievement, enhanced social skills, and increased physical activity.

Lessons from the UrbSTEAM Project: Fostering Ecological Literacy through Garden-Based Learning

In the UrbSTEAM project, kindergarten children are immersed in garden-based learning experiences that promote ecological literacy in various ways:

Exploring Ecosystems: Children learn about the interconnectedness of living organisms and their environments by exploring different ecosystems within the garden, such as soil, plants, insects, and birds.

Understanding Sustainability: Children learn about the principles of sustainability, including resource conservation, waste reduction, and biodiversity preservation, through hands-on activities such as composting, recycling, and water conservation.

Connecting with Food Systems: Children gain an understanding of where their food comes from and the importance of healthy, sustainable food choices by growing, harvesting, and preparing fruits and vegetables from the garden.

Engaging with Nature: Children develop a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world through sensory experiences such as smelling flowers, listening to birdsong, and feeling the texture of leaves. These experiences foster a deep connection to nature and a desire to protect the environment.


Garden-based learning holds immense potential for fostering ecological literacy in kindergarten children, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become environmentally responsible citizens. By engaging in hands-on experiences in the garden, children develop a deeper understanding of ecological concepts, a stronger connection to nature, and a sense of stewardship for the environment. Through initiatives such as the UrbSTEAM project, garden-based learning can play a pivotal role in shaping a generation of ecologically literate individuals who are empowered to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all.


Krasny, M. E., & Kudryavtsev, A. (2013). Urban environmental education review. Cornell University Press.

Williams, D. R., & Dixon, P. S. (2013). Impact of garden-based learning on academic outcomes in schools: Synthesis of research between 1990 and 2010. Review of Educational Research, 83(2), 211-235.