A child studying the inside of a flower

Daycare Lesson Plans on “The Secret Garden”

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Come with us on an enchanting journey into Daycare Lesson Plans on “The Secret Garden,” a classic tale that captivates young imaginations and fosters a love for nature and exploration. Our daycare lesson plans are designed to introduce preschoolers to the magical world of Mary Lennox and her secret garden, encouraging curiosity, creativity, and a sense of wonder.

Daycare Lesson Plans on "The Secret Garden"

Through interactive storytelling, hands-on activities, and outdoor adventures, children will discover the joys of gardening, the beauty of friendship, and the magic that blooms when we care for the world around us. Let’s unlock the gate to a world where every flower has a story and every child can be a gardener of dreams.

Secret Garden Lesson Plan

The Secret Garden” is a timeless story written by Frances Hodgson Burnett about Misselthwaite Manor. The story offers a wealth of educational and developmental benefits for preschoolers about the characters Mary Lennox, Mr. Craven, the master of the manor, and his son Colin Craven, and best of all, a fun hidden garden. Here are some compelling reasons to incorporate this classic tale into your daycare lesson plans:

  1. Encourages Imagination and Creativity: The magical elements and enchanting setting of the secret garden stimulate children’s imaginations, encouraging them to create their own stories and adventures.
  2. Promotes Love for Nature: Through the story, children learn about plants, flowers, and the importance of caring for the environment. Gardening activities foster a hands-on connection with nature.
  3. Teaches Important Values: The themes of friendship, perseverance, and transformation in “The Secret Garden” help children understand the value of kindness, patience, and personal growth.
  4. Supports Emotional Development: As children relate to the characters’ experiences and emotions, they develop empathy and emotional intelligence. The story also provides a gentle way to discuss feelings and coping strategies.
  5. Enhances Literacy Skills: Listening to the story and engaging in related activities improve language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. Storytelling sessions also foster a love for reading.
  6. Language Development: Classic stories often feature rich language and varied vocabulary, which can enhance children’s language skills and comprehension.
  7. Encourages Physical Activity: Gardening and outdoor play activities inspired by the story promote physical development, fine motor skills, and an appreciation for outdoor activities.
  8. Integrates Cross-Curricular Learning: “The Secret Garden” can be used to introduce concepts from various subjects, including science (plant life cycles), art (drawing and crafting garden elements), and social studies (exploring different cultures and historical settings).

Incorporating “The Secret Garden” into your lesson plans creates a rich, multi-sensory learning experience that nurtures young minds and hearts.

kids picking carrots in the garden

Classic Literature for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Introducing a classic literature unit to toddlers and preschoolers can lay a strong foundation for a lifelong love of reading. Here are some effective strategies and benefits of incorporating classic literature into early childhood education:

Benefits of Studying Classic Literature:

  • Cultural Awareness: Many classic tales provide insights into different cultures, historical contexts, and timeless themes, broadening children’s understanding of the world.
  • Moral Lessons: Classic literature frequently includes moral lessons and values, helping children learn about kindness, honesty, courage, and other important traits.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Stories with complex characters and emotions help children develop empathy and emotional understanding.

It’s easy to think about teaching classic literature to high school students, but there are few ideas available for the early years such as preschool and toddler groups. But there is so much value in the stories they offer, and who wouldn’t want to dream about their own secret garden? 

I have never found preschool plans that quite fit what I want to teach when running my home daycare, so I decided to start making my own lesson plans for my home daycare. People seemed interested, so I’m writing some of them out to share them with you and your kids.

When I start a daycare lesson plan on a classic piece of literature, I always base it on a book. I choose an age appropriate adaptation of the story that kids can relate to. For “The Secret Garden” I chose this Baby Lit Book: The Secret Garden: A Flowers Primer that focuses on flowers.

Kids reading "the Secret Garden" baby lit primer on flowers

This book is perfect for us because we have a full-blown garden program that includes a ton of flowers, but if you don’t, you can even use pictures from magazines or websites or grab a small bouquet at the grocery store.

We take the story in the adapted book and build our lesson plans around the children’s interest in that. It’s a great way to adapt classic materials that are full of great lessons for kids and expose them to fine arts at an early age and make it relatable and fun for young kids.

Secret Garden Preschool

There are many ways you can incorporate classic literature into your preschool setting. Here are some that we have done at Little Sprouts:

  • Choose Age-Appropriate Adaptations: Select versions of classic tales that are tailored to young children, with simplified text and engaging illustrations.
  • Interactive Storytelling: Use puppets, felt boards, or props to make the storytelling session interactive and engaging. Encourage children to participate by asking questions and making predictions.
  • Thematic Activities: Plan activities that relate to the story’s themes, such as arts and crafts, role-playing, and nature exploration. This helps reinforce the story’s concepts in a hands-on way.
  • Repetition and Rhythm: Read the stories multiple times to reinforce language patterns and familiarity. Many classic stories have a rhythmic quality that appeals to young listeners.
  • Discussion and Reflection: After reading, discuss the story with the children. Ask them about their favorite parts, characters, and what they learned from the story.
  • Integrate Across the Curriculum: Use classic literature as a springboard for cross-curricular activities. For example, a story about animals can lead to lessons in science, while a tale set in a different culture can inspire social studies activities.

The Story of Mary Lennox

In the story “The Secret Garden” we explore the enchanting story of a young girl named Mary and her secret garden. Let’s discover how Mary found happiness with the help of some new friends, and helped a garden come to life.

Who is Mary Lennox? Mary Lennox is a little girl who lives in India. When she comes to England to live with her uncle, she feels lonely and sad. Mary is curious and loves exploring new places.

The Secret Garden: One day, Mary discovers a hidden door in the garden that leads to a secret place! The garden is overgrown and looks sad, just like Mary felt. She decides to take care of the garden and make it beautiful again.

Making Friends: As Mary works in the garden, she meets new friends:

  • Dickon: A boy who loves animals and nature. He helps Mary with the garden.
  • Colin: Mary’s cousin who thinks he can’t walk. With Mary and Dickon’s help, Colin learns to believe in himself and becomes stronger.

The Magic of the Garden: The garden is not just a place to grow flowers; it’s a place where Mary and her friends grow happy and healthy. The more they care for the garden, the more beautiful it becomes. Mary learns that with love and care, wonderful things can happen. There are so many things you can do to bring the story of “The Secret Garden” to life for preschool and toddler age kids.

Activities to Bring the Story to Life:

  1. Plant a Garden:
    • Let’s plant seeds in small pots and watch them grow, just like Mary did in the secret garden.
  2. Create a Garden Mural:
    • Draw and color flowers, trees, and animals to create a big, beautiful garden mural on the wall.
  3. Storytelling with Puppets:
    • Use puppets to act out Mary’s adventures in the secret garden. Encourage the children to join in and play different characters.
  4. Nature Walk:
    • Take a walk outside to explore nature. Look for flowers, leaves, and bugs, and talk about how we can take care of our own little piece of the garden.
  5. Friendship Circle:
    • Sit in a circle and talk about what makes a good friend. Share stories about how we can help each other, just like Mary, Dickon, and Colin did.

For a printable version of this “The Secret Garden” lesson plan including the Oklahoma ELG’s, click here.

children smashing flowers onto paper for flower printing

“The Secret Garden” Lesson Plans for Preschool

Introduction to “The Secret Garden”

Story Time:

  • Read a simplified version of “The Secret Garden” to the children. Use colorful illustrations to capture their interest.
  • Discuss the characters Mary, Dickon, and Colin.
  • Talk about the colors and beauty of flowers
The inside of a zinnia cut in half for daycare lesson plan science

Explore a flower:

  • Pick or buy some real flowers. Cut the base of the flower in half so kids can see the inside of it and how the petals are held together.
  • Separate the stems, leaves, seeds, and petals and show each part. You can also show the roots if you have them. Discuss what the purpose is for each part and how flowers grow and look beautiful.
  • Give kids a piece of white paper and some fresh flowers
  • Give them rolling pins, mallets, or wooden spoons to hit the flowers with and see what prints onto the paper.
girls studying flower parts

Garden Discovery Art Project:

  • Take a walk outside and explore the garden or nearby nature area.
  • Collect leaves, flowers, and small stones to observe.
  • Create a “Secret Garden” collage using collected nature items.
  • Provide glue, paper, and crayons for children to design their garden.

Song and Dance:

  • Sing Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your Garden Grow?
  • Encourage the children to dance like flowers in the wind.
kids making bug hotels for the garden

Make a bug hotel:

  • Cut the top off of a soda or water bottle so it is about half the size and even in diameter from one end to the other. Place paper straws cut to fit, small pinecones, and other small wood chips, rocks, or debris in the container and hang it in the garden for beneficial insects to make homes in. You could get ladybugs, wood bees or other bees, spiders, and so much more that help the garden grow.
  • Kids can each make one to take home as well.
  • You can glue the items in place or let them lay in there loosely.

Planting Seeds:

  • Provide small pots, soil, and seeds (e.g., beans, sunflowers).
  • Show the children how to plant and water seeds.

Gardening Journal:

  • Create a simple journal where children can draw and observe their plants’ growth.
  • Encourage them to check their plants daily and note changes.

Leaf Rubbings:

  • Make leaf rubbings using crayons and paper and large leaves from the garden.

Flower Crowns:

  • Create flower crowns or bracelets from picked flowers.
  • Pick multiple flowers with large stems. Weave the stems together to form the jewelry.

Storytelling with Puppets:

  • Use puppets to re-enact scenes from “The Secret Garden.”
  • Let children take turns being different characters.

Understanding Friendship and Emotions:

  • Play a game where children act out different emotions (happy, sad, excited, scared) and others guess the emotion. (Like charades)
  • Relate emotions to events in the story.

Team Garden Project:

  • Work together to create a larger garden plot outside.
  • Assign roles like watering, weeding, and observing.

Friendship Bracelets:

  • Make simple friendship bracelets with beads and string.
  • Encourage children to give their bracelets to a friend.

Garden Party:

  • Host a garden-themed party with healthy snacks and decorations.

By the end of these lesson plans, preschoolers will have a deeper appreciation for nature, an understanding of friendship, and practical experience in gardening. They will carry forward the values and skills learned from “The Secret Garden” into their everyday lives.

For more unique lesson plans full of enrichment activities, check these out:

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