Written and Illustrated by: Henry Cole
Does your family have a garden? If not, you may run out to grab some seeds to start one after reading Jack's Garden. Before you begin this story with Jack and his garden, ask questions like:
What do you notice on the cover?
What creatures and flowers do you see?
What do you think will happen in this story?
Activate Prior Knowledge
Find out what knowledge your child has of gardening with these questions:
What kinds of tools and supplies do you need to start a garden?
What can you plant in a garden?
Have you ever been to a garden? What did you notice?
As You Read
Talk to your child about the various tools, insects and plants that are in the illustrations. If your child is unaware of what a tool does, ask what it could be used for based on its shape and size. For example, after you've read the first page, ask, "Why do you think this tool is called a GARDEN CLAW? What do you think a gardener does with it?" There are many insects and plants that your child may not be familiar with but it is helpful to just read through all of the names and stop to discuss any that your child finds particularly interesting. Use terms like, COMPARE and PREDICT to discuss how you will look at each illustration. Saying things like, "Let's COMPARE these two insects. How are they similar? How are they different?"
Every once in awhile, ask your child what s/he thinks the next step in the process is. Ask,
Now that Jack has put the seeds in the soil, what happens now?
What happens if it doesn't rain?
What can Jack do to help in this situation?
Summarize and Interpret
Take a moment to allow your child to summarize the story and ask these questions:
What happened in that story?
What happens after the buds form on the plants?
What are some other things that you can plant in a garden? (Fruits, vegetables, etc)
Would you want to plant a garden? Why or why not?
Do you think it's hard or easy to maintain a garden? What are some reasons why you think that?
Extended Learning Exploration
Talk About Sequences
This story goes through the different stages of planting a garden, so talk about the stages in your child's life. Gather pictures of your child, one when s/he was in the womb, one at birth, one as an infant, and one where s/he is now! For older children, you can include more pictures but for younger children you can keep it to just a three pictures or four. Talk to your child about what s/he was doing at that particular stage in life, like learning to crawl, talk, read, etc. Look at physical characteristics like size to help your child determine what the chronological order that the photos go in.
You can also incorporate lessons into your everyday life, talking through the sequence of events that involve making a sandwich or getting dressed. Help him/her to acknowledge that most activities have an order in which you should complete them. After all, we would all look pretty silly if we tried to pull our socks over our shoes!
Start Your Own Garden or Just Visit One
Henry Cole provides instructions for starting your own garden in the back of the book, so if you and your child are feeling up to it, head outside and get your hands dirty. Grab some seeds, clear some land, and get to work! If you don't want to start your own garden, visit one instead! Check out a community garden near you, and see the types of plants that they have growing there! You can also learn more about how certain insects are beneficial to gardens here.