“Garden Songs” Manual, Songbook, and Training

“Singing with kids in gardens illuminates opportunities for teaching courage. The courage to hear yourself, to share your voice, to try to build life based on what makes YOU feel inspired. The songs and ideas within are to be used or re-shaped – in whatever way supports you and your students.”
– “Garden Songs” Songbook and Manual

In the spring of 2017, I composed a songbook and singing manual, to inspire and prepare environmental educators to use group singing and lessons in garden classrooms. That summer, I led a training for Troy Kids’ Garden interns, to encourage them to use the songbook and sing with groups of kids visiting the garden.

Rachel Brown, Song-writer, Organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace (Philadelphia, PA)
Alisha David, Troy Kid’s Garden Manager
Kristin Eggen, Community Singing Enthusiast (Iowa and Wisconsin)
Ginny Hughs, Education Director at Community GroundWorks
Nathan Larson, Director of Cultivate Health Initiative with Community GroundWorks
Batya Levine, Organizer at Let My People Sing (Boston, MA)
Michael Olson, Videographer (Madison)
Karen Reece, President of Urban Community Arts Network (Madison)
Emily Sheehan, Music Therapist (Philadelphia, PA)

Goals of Songbook/Manual:

  • Explain how garden education lessons and leaders can develop comfort and familiarity with leading songs with groups of children
  • Explain how music in garden education
  • Create a document to use while planning lessons or while teaching in the garden
  • Provide songs that are exciting, educational, beautiful, and easy to teach and share in outdoor classrooms

Goals of Educator Training:

  • Share the benefits of combining group singing with garden education with educators who may or may not be comfortable and familiar with this topic.
  • Lead educators in song, to instill muscle memory
  • Engage educators in considering the relationship between education, courage, personal voice, and collective voice.

Project Documents:

Document Title: Songbook and Manual
Authors: Amanda Hoffman
Editors and Contributors: Rachel Brown, Kristin Eggen, Ginny Hughs, Nathan Larson, Batya Levine, Karen Reece
Date Completed: June 13, 2017
Document Description: This document introduces environmental educators to the benefits of singing with students, and provides tips on how to get started singing. The second half provides ideas for songs to sing in garden education, including lyrics, chords, and stories.

Document Title: Amanda Final Training Agenda
Authors: Amanda Hoffman
Editors and Contributors: Rachel Brown, Alisha David, Kristin Eggen, Ginny Hughs, Batya Levine, Karen Reece
Date Completed: June 9, 2017
Document Description: This document shares the agenda I constructed for the educator training.

Document Title: Elements Ideas Outtakes
Authors: Amanda Hoffman
Editors and Contributors: Alisha David, Ginny Hughs, Kristin Eggen, Karen Reece, Batya Levine, Rachel Brown
Date Completed: August 22, 2017
Document Description: This document shares ideas that I considered using in the songbook/manual and training.

Document Title: Educator Training Video
Authors: Training developed and led by Amanda Hoffman. Filmed by Michael Olson. Edited by Amanda Hoffman.
Date Filmed: June 14, 2017
Document Description: This video shares the “Garden Songs” educator training.

Success Stories:

  • This summer, interns that participated in the training used the songbook, singing with kids as part of their educational programming.
  • After working together, Alisha, the Kids’ Garden Manager, decided to be more courageous and open when singing, and joined a community choir.
  • I sent out a call to the Wisconsin Farm to School newsletter, asking for questions or ideas to address in my songbook, manual, and training. Several folks requested a copy of the materials. One garden educator shared that my idea inspired her to build a music playground near her garden.
  • I integrated my life-long passions for singing, encouraging self-confidence, and building group-consciousness into a food-justice project that supported the work of environmental education programs.

Read the Garden Songs Project Profile to learn more about the journey of this collaboration