Our programs

Farm & Forest School

Our program includes exploring outdoors, animal tracking, plant and animal study, nature & sensory awareness, storytelling, edible & medicinal plants, sit spot, nature journaling, mentorship, empowerment, primitive skills & crafts, and lots of fun and play!

The Giving Gardens of Indiana Farm & Forest School aims to cultivate curiosity, compassion, and connection with the natural world. Studies show that time spent in nature increases attention span, ability to concentrate, self-esteem, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Children who spend more time outdoors and participate in cooperative group activities also tend to have healthier relationships with friends and family.

We support children to develop an appreciation for each other and the natural world so that they grow into dedicated leaders and environmental stewards in their communities.


Interested in contributing to this program?
Check out our wish list items here.

Our Teaching Philosophy

We believe the natural world provides an exceptional classroom, inspiring wonder, independent learning and critical thinking. Our nature-based curriculum incorporates a hands-on, experiential approach and the development of the whole-child. We have a flexible inquiry-based facilitation style, and we follow the childrens’ lead much of the time.

Our daily routine is guided by the 8 Shields model of Mentoring and Exploring Nature with Children curriculum. Concepts are introduced through our flow of the day, which is designed to work with the natural inclinations and energies of the children and the environment. We follow what sparks connection and excitement for the children. Some days we follow the planned curriculum and on other days, we throw our “plan” out the window and follow the animal tracks we found after opening circle. We believe that children learn the most when they have a “spark in their eye” and are enthusiastic about something they discovered in nature. We ask them questions and study alongside them to deepen their curiosity and knowledge about the nature subject at hand.

Program Locations

Giving Gardens of Indiana
479 S. Towerview Drive, Columbia City, IN 46725
Morsches Park
1035 IN-205, Columbia City, IN 46725

Classes K-5th grade

Our Elementary program for children ages 6-12 is an introduction to the natural world with the opportunity for older students to mentor younger/newer students. Through hands-on activity in the garden, games, crafts, stories, song and adventure children learn how to take healthy risks in a safe way while developing a deeper connection to themselves, the natural world and their community. Skills introduced include plant identification, animal tracking, shelter building, fire safety (lighting a fire using various methods, fire structure, extinguishing a fire, the responsibility of using fire), bird language, sit spot, nature journaling, gardening, hiking, outdoor cooking, storytelling, and hazard awareness. 

Enrollment requirements:

  • Because we learn in an outdoor classroom without walls, students must be able to stay with the group and follow instructions most of the time.
  • Students must show respect towards peers, teachers, nature, and park/farm property.
  • Weather appropriate clothing must be worn and provided by the parents/or guardian.

Fall & Spring 10 week Program: 

  • Elementary – Tuesday’s 8-11am
  • Elementary – Thursday’s 8-11am

Winter  Program:

  • Monthly Programs
  • See Seasonal Program page for more details

Summer 8 week program: June 22-Aug.12, 2021

  • Elementary- Tuesday’s 8-11am
  • Elementary-Thursday’s 8-11am

Morning 8am (15-mins): Welcome and Drop-off

Morning 8:15  (15-mins): Opening Circle- 

Expectations, Movement activities, Class theme(lesson) and Days Gratitude

Morning 8:30 (15-mins): Bathroom break

Morning 8:45 (1 hr 30-min): Activity and or hike

​May include working in the garden, doing a nature craft, learning about a local plant or animal, or playing an active, nature-oriented game, outdoor skills, cooking

Wander the woods and farm; outdoor play may include free play, shelter building or working in the mud kitchen, sit spot, nature journaling

Morning 10:15 (15-min): Bathroom Break

Morning 10:30 (15-min): Snack Break

Morning 10:45 (15-min): Closing Circle: Talk about day/questions, gratitude

Morning 11:00: Goodbye and Parent Pick up


Registration-$50 per family (non-refundable)

  • Fall Semester 10 weeks-$375 per child
  • Spring Semester 10 weeks-$375 per child
  • Summer Semester 8 weeks-$300 per child

Sibling discount-$25 off each additional child

We at Giving Gardens of Indiana want to make our programs available to everyone. If your family is in need of support with tuition you can write us a letter stating your need to be considered for tuition scholarship for Farm and Forest School Semesters. The tuition covers 50% of the semester you are applying for. You must re-apply every semester your child/ren will attend. You can email us your request at :

email:      givinggardensin@gmail.com