Wonder Wednesday: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Welcome back to #WonderWednesday! This week I will be sharing about how I used ‘Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt’ by Kate Messner as a provocation tool. It has been a great tool at this time of year. In Victoria, it almost feels like we skipped spring, and have jumped straight into summer. We have been spending lots of time outdoors and in the local community garden. This book was a timely fit and a familiar one for our friends, as we used the winter version of this story quite a bit early on second term. It has been a great way to provoke questions, thinking and curiosity around planting and what is beneath the soil.
up in the garden and down in the dirt.jpg
Book Description: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt has us exploring what grows above and beneath the soil. It takes us on a journey throughout the seasons to discover what we might find down in the soil, beneath a leaf, under a bush and more. The words are written in an almost poetic form. The illustrations are incredible and really leave you wanting more! This book depicts many different areas in the garden and also has a child and a grandma for our littles to relate to.

Connections: This book could not have come in a more timely way. We had focused a lot on the winter version of this book in term 2, click here.  So when I was visiting our local book store, and saw the spring version I knew it would be a hit with my littles! We had just planted beans in our room and were super curious about how they were growing and how they were staying connected to the soil. This book prompted a lot of discussion about roots and what is happening below the soil that we do not see. It provoked curiosity and questions as we visited our local garden every couple of days. Lots of insights and thoughts around what was happening beneath the garden beds came up. 

Context: As we had been wondering about what plants need to grow, I decided to do some ‘I see, I notice, I wonder’ thinking routines with some of the illustrations in this book. These routines allowed us to go a bit deeper with our questions and understandings in relation to how plants grow. I use Google Slides to do these with the picture book as the background. I find the image online and then put it as the background on the slide, or as a picture, depending on the size. Then I use the text tool to add the children’s’ vocab and statements. We started to learn vocabulary about plants in French and noticed that we already knew quite a bit.


As we spent more and more time looking at the illustrations and noticing different aspects of the garden scenes, some discussion around the artwork came up from my littles. I asked them if they wanted to do some type of artwork related to the book, they were eager. We did a little class Pinterest session, a regular research tool of ours, to find something that might inspire us as artists. We came across Darla Myers’ beautiful mural and were hooked! We started planning and creating.

Wonder Prompts:
-What do imagine underneath the soil? 
-How does a plant grow upwards? 
-Why do some vegetables grow underground and others above? 
-What do plants need to grow? 
-How do earthworms make tunnels? 
-How do insects survive? 
-Why are bees important? 
-How far down do you think roots go? 

Extensions: We took our thinking and learning a bit further by bringing measurement into the mix. We have been wondering about the difference between length and height and I thought measuring in the garden. We walked to the garden and read Length from the series Math Counts by Henry Pluckrose. We then explored the difference between height and length by measuring with our hands, our feet and some unfix blocks. Lots of excitement around measurement!

I love how they have so much space to explore and investigate in the garden. It is such a different vibe than being in the classroom. The learning is deeper and the investigation and connection making goes much further. Questions started to arise about different types of plants, flowers and trees. We are a curious bunch, who LOVE to explore!

Read Aloud: Click here to see this book as a read aloud!  This read aloud is very clear and the illustrations are easy to see. It is a great version. Enjoy!

Have you read ‘Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections to planting, growing, spring, insects and animals did they make? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together.

Stay curious, 


2 thoughts on “Wonder Wednesday: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

  1. irishlatte says:

    I just love these Wednesday posts, Rebecca. I will try out the idea of adding a photo from the book to add their ideas. Thank you! We start planting soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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