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This unit study includes lessons and activities based on the book The Gardener by Sarah Stewart.

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers’ faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece — an ambitious rooftop garden — which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile.

from The Gardener summary at

This sweet story is the foundation for gobs of lessons spanning social studies, language arts, science, and more. Grab our free The Gardener unit study and get started with this fabulous book.

The Gardener Unit Study Lessons

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this The Gardener unit study:

Social Studies: Independence Day
Lydia presents the garden to her uncle (along with their friends) on July 4th. Mention to your student that July 4th is Independence Day. Discuss why we celebrate on this day. We celebrate the birth of our country (explaining it as the “birthday” of America may help your student grasp this concept). The events surrounding our country’s separation from England ended with the Declaration of Independence (on July 4, 1776); we became our own country on this day. You can ask your student about what kinds of celebrations have become traditional for this day? What celebrations have become traditional for your household? 

Language Arts: Making a List
August 27, 1935: Lydia Grace’s grandmother helps her pack to go and live with Uncle Jim. Classify the items that Lydia Grace is packing (e.g., underwear, shirts, socks). What other items in the room might Lydia Grace take with her to the city? Ask your student to make a list of personal items that they would take with them if they were going away for a long visit.

Science: Gardening
Seed packets are falling out of Lydia’s suitcase while she is on the train. Note the names– Marigolds, Cosmos, and Zinnias. Pick some of these seeds up at the store (Cosmos and Zinnias are my favorite flower garden flowers! They both grow great in Indiana!), and start some indoors. If you have an extra tea cup or a cake pan, plant them in it (like Lydia did). Radishes, Onions, and Lettuce are also mentioned. If you would like, allow your child to try growing one or more of these vegetables. They can also be started indoors (in window boxes like Lydia did, if you like).

You can grab a copy of the entire The Gardener unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

How to Get Started with the The Gardener Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with The Gardener unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, The Gardener, or borrow one from your local library.
  2. Print the The Gardener unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of learning about Independence Day, gardening, The Great Depression, and more!

Download Your Free The Gardener Unit Study

Simply click on the image below to grab the free The Gardener unit study.

The Gardener Unit Study

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