Share it! Science : March 2024

Plant a "Garden Friends" Themed Garden for Kids [Seed Giveaway!]

Gardening with children is rewarding for adults and children alike. It can teach important science principles such as life cycles, botany, wildlife habitats, food webs and ecosystems. It is also full of character-building life lessons like a sense of place and responsibility, sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

Planning and growing a themed garden is a great way to get children excited about their plants. In the past we have explored growing a Pizza or Taco garden, growing an Alphabet garden and growing a Rainbow or Pollinator garden. This time around we are going to give you some inspiration for a "Garden Friends" themed garden, otherwise known as companion planting.

Companion planting kids garden

This post contains affiliate links meaning I make a small commission from purchases made from these links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures for more information.  

We are also excited to be hosting a Renee's Garden seed giveaway. If you aren’t already familiar with Renee’s Garden seeds, I highly recommend exploring their offerings as you plan your garden. I love all of the unique varieties. With unusual heirlooms and plants that thrive in containers and small spaces they offer many good choices for a small home garden or school garden.

You will find details and the giveaway entry form at the bottom of this post.

Garden Friends: What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the concept of growing plants that compliment each other or are helpful to one another together. For example, planting something that grows tall, like peas on a trellis, where they can shade a friend that needs cooler conditions like lettuce from the mid-day sun. 

Plants can be friends because one repels or traps insect pests that are damaging to another. Planting basil around tomato plants can deter tomato pests. Planting flowers like nasturtium act as attractive insect traps. 

Plant friends can be those that do not compete for the same nutrients in the soil. Radishes that grow quickly and grow to shallow depths can be grown with carrots that grow deeper in the soil.  

gardening with kids themed gardens


The Three Sisters

An ancient method of companion planting comes from the Native Americans. Originating in North America around 3,000 years ago, corn, beans and squash were some of the first garden friends. Each plant has features that are beneficial to the others. 

Corn provides support as it grows tall and strong like a trellis. Beans add nitrogen to the soil and can climb the corn stalks. Squash is planted at the base to protect the beans and corn. The large squash leaves help provide shade and hold moisture in the ground. The shading of the squash can help prevent weed growth. Prickly squash stems can deter pests.

The Three Sisters garden is magical as it is like its own self-sustaining ecosystem. You can tell the native story of the Three Sisters to your students or children to inspire the planting of these three crops together. Scroll through this post to read the story and learn how to plant your three sisters garden.

Learn how you can win a pack of Native American Three Sisters Seeds at the end of this post! This big bonus pack of seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds includes Earth Tones Indian Dent Corn, Rattlesnake Bean and Sugar Pie Pumpkin seeds. 

Kids Gardening has Three Sisters lesson plans available when you sign up for their newsletter (which I highly recommend!) You can find the Three Sisters Lesson plan resource here

Pairs of Garden Friends to Plant

Here are some plant pairings that make good garden friends. Some of these are based on science, some based on folklore, but all make beautiful and tasty gardens! 
  • Cucumbers and Nasturtium- Grow cucumbers up a trellis with nasturtium down below to repel and trap pests. Nasturtium flowers are pretty and edible. They taste a bit like a radish.
  • Potatoes and Garlic- Garlic helps to keep away pests! 
  • Broccoli and Oregano- the Oregano serves as an insecticide
  • Carrots and Chives- Chives improve carrot growth and flavor as well as well as deterring pests
  • Lettuce and Radishes- radishes trap insect pests
  • Peas and Alyssum- Alyssum helps to bring in beneficial pollinators
  • Melons or Squash and Dill- Dill flowers attract beneficial insects
  • Tomatoes and Basil- Basil repels some pests, including helping to prevent tomato hornworm.
    The list could go on and on! Check out the Farmers Almanac for an extensive list of good garden friends.

    kids themed garden friends companion planting


    Garden Planning

    Gardening with kids can be such a blast. My friend Christina at Little Sprouts Learning is a master at gardening with children. You can grab her helpful garden planner here as well as some other helpful resources for kids.
    There is more to gardening than just the plants and seeds! Kids love to decorate garden markers and using them helps them to learn their plants. Kids can design their own with these blank bamboo garden markers. These 3-D printed garden markers are so colorful and these bright vegetable shaped markers would be great for a kid's themed garden. 

    You might also want to invest in a sturdy kid-sized set of garden tools like this for digging and exploring throughout the growing season. 

    Win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack!

    Enter below to win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack from Renee's Garden Seeds. This giveaway starts March 23rd, 2024 and ends at midnight March 29th, 2024. The winner will be announced in our newsletter, listed on this post and notified by e-mail once the giveaway has ended. 
    Must be a United States resident to enter, for further terms and conditions see Rafflecopter box below.
    Renees garden seeds three sisters garden giveaway


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    K-12 Enrichment Company Brains & Motion Education (BAM!) Launches Today

    I'm excited to have Brains and Motion Education (BAM!) as a guest blogger. Read on to learn about the new STEM, arts, and sports enrichment after-school and summer camp programs they are offering nationwide. 

    After-School and Summer STEM, Arts and Sports Programs

    Today marks the launch of enrichment provider Brains & Motion Education (BAM!), a tech-enabled company unlocking the potential of students year-round through after-school, structured recess, and summer camp with STEM, arts, and sports programs. As the only nationwide provider with a focus on whole-child development, BAM! aims to stimulate young minds while keeping growing bodies joyfully active. 

    This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive a commission from purchases made from these links. Please see disclosures for more information.


    In an ideal world, formal education inspires students and prepares them for the future in ways that build social and emotional skills, confidence, and subject matter expertise through a wide variety of hands-on, project-based activities. In reality, too much of the formal school day is boring for students due to constraints caused by standardized testing, teacher shortages, and how difficult it is for teachers to provide differentiated instruction to large groups of students. Additionally, more than 25 million students have no place to go after school and lack access to structured opportunities to develop skills outside of the school day.

    “Many schools would love to teach students how to play chess, program robots, develop computational thinking skills, create sophisticated digital artwork, become strong creative writers, and provide students with meaningful exposure to artificial intelligence systems through project-based learning,” said Bart Epstein, BAM!’s CEO. “There just isn’t enough time in the school day. These types of enrichment activities can and should be available to every student, regardless of their zip code.”

    Epstein, an education industry veteran, was brought in to launch the company from the assets of an enrichment company. An entrepreneur with decades of experience, Epstein’s work has impacted over twenty million students through his leadership at companies including, The Jefferson Education Accelerator, The Princeton Review, ASCD, ISTE, and as the first general manager of a Department of Defense education program that supports U.S. military families worldwide. During his years as a professor at the University of Virginia School of Education, Epstein founded and ran a national nonprofit that helps schools learn how to effectively implement complex STEM programs.

    Epstein credits much of his success in life to the teachers who sparked his curiosity and confidence through an after-school aviation and rocketry enrichment program. Twenty years later, he became a commercial pilot and civilian test pilot for NASA, and then an educator and entrepreneur.

    The BAM! leadership team features other executives with extensive experience driving growth, scale, and successful implementations, including COO Kristopher Kasper, CMO Christina Yu, VP of Sales Lori Todd, VP of Product Jody Nova, and CFO Jennifer Thresher.

    Due in part to the success of its after-school programs, BAM! has received extraordinary interest in its summer 2024 camp programs that include RoboKids, GameCraft, and MakersQuest which reflect new career exploration curriculum and new interdisciplinary STEAM programs, including animation, game design, creative writing, and machine learning.

    For schools, offering high-quality enrichment that includes a mix of physical activity and inspirational hands-on learning addresses an array of challenges in an easy, practical, and cost-effective way. “Providing our families with access to enrichment activities after 3 pm and during dedicated break times throughout the academic day helps us with some of the biggest problems in education at a fraction of the cost of formal education and at a small percentage more than basic after-care,” said Lesem Puerto, Community School Partnership Manager at the Children's Institute. “Students who attend inspiring project-based enrichment programs during recess and lunch, and beyond, are more engaged during the school day. That’s something that we all love to see.”

    The company currently has a presence in ten key regions - notably San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and Seattle - and intends to scale its after-school, summer camp, and structured recess programs nationwide.

    BAM! is supported by institutional investors including New Markets Venture Partners, LearnStart, Sand Hill Angels, Women’s Venture Capital Fund, JFFVentures, and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, whose collective investments in the venture now total more than $18 million.

    The company’s Board includes Gerard Robinson (former Secretary of Education in Virginia and Commissioner of Education in Florida), Juan Zavala (New Markets Venture Partners), Mark Chernis (Princeton Review, SchoolNet, Pearson), and Rob Cohen (2U, Princeton Review, Oasis).

    “We believe there is strong demand for BAM!’s products and are excited to support the company in driving improved academic outcomes and equitable access to enrichment beyond the school day for students across the country”, said Juan Zavala, Principal at New Markets Venture Partners, the lead investor in BAM!. “Bart and his leadership team have deep industry expertise and experience in scaling solutions for student success. Their mission is perfectly aligned with New Markets Venture Partners’ double-bottom line investment goals.”

    “In after-school and summer programs, students are given the chance to discover their strengths, explore their interests, and connect the dots between disciplines in a safe, supportive, and fun environment,” said Gerard Robinson, now professor of practice at the UVA Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and former Virginia Secretary of Education.