Educator Resources

Extend the learning with these art and science based lessons connected to the sculpture and horticultural collections at Meijer Gardens. These resources can be used to dive into topics you may cover on your upcoming visit, or enrich your post-visit experience.

Science Resources

Butterfly Basics: Life Cycle

Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet? How much does a monarch caterpillar grow in 2 weeks? Learn fascinating factoids about each stage of a butterfly’s life cycle, insect anatomy, camouflage and other amazing defensive and adaptation strategies. Then try creating your own life cycle model with materials you have at home!

Suggested Age Range: K-3rd

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standards:
• 1-LS3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
• 1-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Butterfly Basics: Observe Like a Scientist

Practice observing like a scientist by watching butterflies fly and feed. Look carefully and record your observations about butterflies’ bodies and behaviors.

Suggested Age Range: K-8th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standards:
• 1-LS3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
• 3-LS4-2 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Michigan K-12 Standards Mathematics
• K-3: Reason with shapes and their attributes

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Biomes and Adaptations

Take a walk through our Arid Garden and compare differences between a desert biome and Michigan’s temperate forest biome. Ponder why cacti have spines and how plants in the desert have adapted to survive in their environment.

Suggested Age Range: 2nd-5th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standard:
• 3-LS4-3 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.3

Flower Power! – “Putricia” the Corpse Flower

On July 11, 2018 our titan arum, or corpse flower, bloomed for the first time since we received the plant as a seedling in August of 2000! Thousands of people came out to see the magnificent bloom that our horticulture staff lovingly named "Putricia." Explore the resources below to answer the questions and complete the activities.

Suggested Age Range: 3rd-8th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standard:
• 2-LS4-1 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Wonder Journal - Things that Grow

Next Generation Science Standards:

Cross-Cutting Concepts:

  • Cause and Effect

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Standards that Directly Align with Content:

  • 3-LS3-2 - Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • MS-LS1-5 - Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Wonder Journal - Forest Floor

Next Generation Science Standards:

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Arts Resources

Joy: How Does Your Family Celebrate?

Traditions from around the world share many things in common. Watch a short film featuring five traditions celebrated in West Michigan, then explore their similarities and differences while making personal connections.

Suggested Age Range: K-12th

Curriculum Connections:

Social Studies Standards

  • 1 – G4.0.1 Use components of culture to describe diversity in family life.
  • 2 – G4.0.3 Use components of culture to describe diversity in the local community.
  • 6 – G4.1.4 Explain how culture influences the daily lives of people.

Handcrafted: Make Your Own Traditional Object

Learn about two of the handcrafted holiday traditions featured in Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions, then draw or make a traditional object of your own.

Suggested Age Range: K-12th

Curriculum Connections:

Social Studies Standards

  • 1 – G4.0.1 Use components of culture to describe diversity in family life.
  • 2 – G4.0.3 Use components of culture to describe diversity in the local community.
  • 6 – G4.1.4 Explain how culture influences the daily lives of people.

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Stories: How Did Your Tradition Come to Be?

Where did your family’s traditions come from? Why are they important? How did they begin? Interview family members to learn about the history or stories behind traditions practiced in your family.

Suggested Age Range: K-12th

Curriculum Connections:

Social Studies Standards

  • 1 – G4.0.1 Use components of culture to describe diversity in family life.
  • 2 – G4.0.3 Use components of culture to describe diversity in the local community.
  • 6 – G4.1.4 Explain how culture influences the daily lives of people.

Masterpiece Dress Up*

Suggested Age Range: Upper Elementary and Middle School

*This lesson plan was created and generously shared by Sarah Fitzpatrick, one of the dedicated educators who serves on the Meijer Gardens Teacher Advisory Committee

Environmental Art*

Suggested Age Range: Upper Elementary and Middle School

*This lesson plan was created and generously shared by Sarah Fitzpatrick, one of the dedicated educators who serves on the Meijer Gardens Teacher Advisory Committee

Conversations in Sculpture: Story

Reflect on how artists represent human stories by exploring Number 26 and Number 25 by Hanneke Beaumont. Use the figures in this sculpture to inspire a story of your own.

Suggested Age Range: 3rd-12th

Curriculum Connections:

Common Core ELA Literacy Standards:
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.3
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.12.3

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts
Analyze: Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art

Conversations in Sculpture: Communication

Reflect on how artists represent emotion and communication by exploring two sculptures, I, you, she or he... by Jaume Plensa and Introspective by Sophie Ryder. Apply what you’ve learned to take an emotive selfie that communicates something to the viewer.

Suggested Age Range: Middle-High School

Curriculum Connections:

Common Core ELA Literacy Standards:
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.12.1

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
• Analyze: Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
• Analyze and Make Connections: Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Conversations in Sculpture: Identity

Reflect on how artists represent identity by exploring Rendezvous and Urban Excursion by Chakaia Booker. Use what you’ve learned to create a work of art that represents an aspect of your identity.

Suggested Age Range: 6th-12th Grade

Curriculum Connections:

Visual Arts

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 4: Understand, analyze, and describe the arts in their historical, social, and cultural contexts.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Social Studies

  • P3.1 Clearly state an issue as a question of public policy, gather and interpret information about the issue, analyze various perspectives, and generate and evaluate possible alternative solutions.
  • P1.4 Express social studies ideas clearly in written, spoken, and graphic forms.
  • P1.5 Present an argument supported with evidence.

Conversations in Sculpture: Activism

Reflect on how artists inspire change by exploring Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei. Use what you’ve learned to create a work of art that informs or inspires action on an issue you care about.

Suggested Age Range: 6th-12th

Curriculum Connections:

Visual Arts

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 4: Understand, analyze, and describe the arts in their historical, social, and cultural contexts.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Social Studies

  • P3.1 Clearly state an issue as a question of public policy, gather and interpret information about the issue, analyze various perspectives, and generate and evaluate possible alternative solutions.
  • P1.4 Express social studies ideas clearly in written, spoken, and graphic forms.
  • P1.5 Present an argument supported with evidence.

Storytime Resources

Thanks for joining us for Cozy Tales! Tuesday mornings at 10 am throughout January and February, we brought you a special art-themed storytime live from our Facebook page and YouTube channel. This storytime is best suited for ages 2-5, but all are welcome to listen and enjoy year-round.

  1. Art by Patrick McDonnell – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  2. Little Cloud by Eric Carle – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  3. Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  4. Wow! Said The Owl by Tim Hopgood – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  5. Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  6. Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  7. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds – YouTube video | Activity sheet
  8. Walter's Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood – YouTube video | Activity sheet

Zooming In On...Recordings

Neurons & Seed Pods: Zooming In on Nature for Artistic Inspiration

Zoom in on Roxy Paine’s Neuron and Michele Oka Doner’s Beneath the Leafy Crown to make discoveries and connections to the natural world and between these two world class sculptures.

Zooming In on Heirloom Tomatoes

Dr. Chad Niederhuth, Assistant Professor of Plant Biology at Michigan State University, and Eve Choi, Curator of Horticultural and Environmental Education at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park take a closer look at heirloom tomatoes in celebration of the annual Heirloom Tomatoes Weekend

Zooming In on George Segal: Body Language

Curator of Arts Education, Amber Oudsema investigates what is being communicated through body language and color by looking closely at sculpture and prints in our current sculpture exhibition: George Segal: Body Language.

Super Seeds: Zooming In On Seed Dispersal

Join Meijer Gardens Classroom Activities and Education Technology Coordinator Carlie Fournier to discover more about the fascinating methods of seed dispersal that allow plants to survive and thrive in their environments.

Zooming In on Mood: Spooky Sculpture Adventure

Investigate mood while visiting and discussing four sculptures in the Sculpture Park. Look closely and ask questions to explore how these sculptures make us feel and learn a little more about the artists’ backgrounds.

Zooming In On the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden

Join Meijer Gardens’ educators for a live and interactive virtual visit to the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden. We will examine the design and function of our living rooftop garden and discuss the sculptures featured there.

Zooming In on Gratefulness

Join Meijer Gardens’ educators as they visit their favorite places for reflection at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to ponder and discuss what we are grateful for in 2020.

Zooming In on Polish Holiday Traditions

Join members of the Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids to learn about the fascinating holiday traditions of handcrafting szopka and the celebrated Wigilia Supper enjoyed by people of Polish culture on Christmas Eve. Together we will look closely, think deeply, and ask questions to learn more about the rich Polish culture, heritage and traditions celebrated in our community.

Zooming In On Local Family Traditions

Join special guest presenters from Amanda Barbour’s 5th grade class at Discovery Elementary School in Kentwood as they share how traditions are celebrated in their homes. Together we will look closely, think deeply, and explore the diverse cultures and traditions celebrated in the Grand Rapids community through students’ eyes.

Zooming In on Post-Colonialism in Art

Curator of Arts Education, Amber Oudsema explores the artwork of two world renowned Black artists, El Anatsui and Chakaia Booker, who address themes of post-colonialism, racial identity, and environmentalism.

Zooming In on Women Artists at Meijer Gardens

During Women's History Month, join Curator of Arts Education, Amber Oudsema, to discuss the work of three female artists who made a monumental impact on the world of art and the feminist movement.

Zooming In on Haiku: A Virtual Writing Workshop

In celebration of National Poetry month, explore For the Garden by Jenny Holzer, a series of boulders engraved with haiku poems placed throughout the Richard & Helen Devos Japanese Garden. Get inspired by natural scenes in the Japanese Garden and try writing your own haiku!

Zooming In on our Watershed

Join Araceli from the Plaster Creek Stewards, a collaboration of Calvin University faculty, staff, and students working with local partners to restore the Plaster Creek watershed, and Meijer Gardens' Curator of Horticultural and Environmental Education, Eve Choi as they share key issues facing our local watershed and tips that anyone can follow to help support their watershed at home.

Teacher Advisory Committee

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park seeks K-12 educators to be members of our Teacher Advisory Committee.

The Teacher Advisory Committee is a group of educators who meets throughout the school year with Meijer Gardens education staff to cultivate collaboration and learning among teachers and museum educators in West Michigan. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is committed to working with educators to provide students with a richly unique, engaging, and curriculum-based experience and we need your voice!

TAC members will:

Meet 3-6 times per year for 1.5-3 hours at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Meetings will typically be held weeknights beginning at 4:00pm.

Evaluate educational programming, providing feedback to align current curriculum connections and best teaching practices

Cocreate programming to meet the needs of our learning community

Participate in roundtable discussions with education staff and fellow teaching professionals on a variety of education topics

Receive compensation for your contribution through TAC membership benefits

If you are interested in applying to be a member of the next Teacher Advisory Committee, please complete the Application Form. We will hold onto all submitted applications and reach out once new positions become available.

Thank you to all of our past Teacher Advisory Committee members! We sincerely appreciate your expertise, communication, collaboration and support.

"The Teacher Advisory Committee was a wonderful experience connecting with other area educators at and about a place we all love, Meijer Gardens. The leaders of the program were understanding about the busy lives of teachers and did not over-ask for our time, and we felt our suggestions, resources and advice were really heard and appreciated. Also, gifting my class a free field experience at the gardens was a highlight for my students. I would highly recommend teachers giving of themselves in this way. The teacher-to-teacher collaboration, the feeling of being valued, and the free class trip makes the experience very worthwhile."
Chad Zuber
Innocademy Zeeland
Blue Room
"My experience while working with other educators and the facilitators for the TAC was awesome!!! It was great to hear different perspectives based on the other educators' experiences and models being used at their schools for the education of their students. The space created was one of collaboration, inspiration, respect and creativity. The facilitators shared their experiences and gave feedback about past educational offerings at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The facilitators were very open and honest during the revising process of educational lessons and learning offerings at Frederik Meijer Gardens. I felt that my thoughts and opinions were both valued and respected during our collaboration, and enjoyed each of our sessions together. It was also wonderful to be able to see and visit different areas on the Frederik Meijer Gardens grounds. We thought creatively how to utilize the spaces and sculptures that are present and a part of the rich and powerful grounds of Frederik Meijer Gardens. I would recommend to other educators to participate in the TAC as it was a great experience to learn, to collaborate with other educators, and to share your ideas. I feel that my time spent on the TAC has made an impact on the education of all children and the educational offerings at Meijer Gardens."
Harmony Perry
Grand Rapids, MI

Past Teacher Advisory Committee Members:

Karin Cramer, 4th grade teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Barb Kent, High School art teacher, Rockford, MI
Sue McLain, 1st grade teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Laura Avolio, 2nd grade teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Sara Fitzpatrick, Middle School art teacher, Portland, MI
Laurel Prafke, elementary teacher, Lundington, MI
Laura Todd, High School art teacher, Rockford, MI
Amy Brumwell, K-8 art teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Kathleen Hennink, Middle School science teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Harmony Perry, Elementary teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Brandon Bear, 3rd grade teacher, Kalamazoo, MI
Melissa Choi, Homeschool teacher, Grand Rapids, MI
Chad Zuber, K-8 STEM teacher, Holland, MI
Amy Zwiep, School Director, Rockford, MI

Butterfly Basics: Life Cycle

Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet? How much does a monarch caterpillar grow in 2 weeks? Learn fascinating factoids about each stage of a butterfly’s life cycle, insect anatomy, camouflage and other amazing defensive and adaptation strategies. Then try creating your own life cycle model with materials you have at home!

Suggested Age Range: K-3rd

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standards:
• 1-LS3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
• 1-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Butterfly Basics: Observe Like a Scientist

Practice observing like a scientist by watching butterflies fly and feed. Look carefully and record your observations about butterflies’ bodies and behaviors.

Suggested Age Range: K-8th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standards:
• 1-LS3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
• 3-LS4-2 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Michigan K-12 Standards Mathematics
• K-3: Reason with shapes and their attributes

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Biomes and Adaptations

Take a walk through our Arid Garden and compare differences between a desert biome and Michigan’s temperate forest biome. Ponder why cacti have spines and how plants in the desert have adapted to survive in their environment.

Suggested Age Range: 2nd-5th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standard:
• 3-LS4-3 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.3

Flower Power! – “Putricia” the Corpse Flower

On July 11, 2018 our titan arum, or corpse flower, bloomed for the first time since we received the plant as a seedling in August of 2000! Thousands of people came out to see the magnificent bloom that our horticulture staff lovingly named "Putricia." Explore the resources below to answer the questions and complete the activities.

Suggested Age Range: 3rd-8th

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standard:
• 2-LS4-1 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Common Core ELA Literacy Standard:
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:
• Create: Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts

Wonder Journal - Things that Grow

Next Generation Science Standards:

Cross-Cutting Concepts:

  • Cause and Effect

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Standards that Directly Align with Content:

  • 3-LS3-2 - Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • MS-LS1-5 - Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.

Wonder Journal - Forest Floor

Next Generation Science Standards:

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe, and evaluate works of art.
  • Standard 5: Recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts; between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.