Sallie Humble Elem

Planting a Square Foot Garden

Students will use math to plan and design their square foot garden


15-20 minutes



Collection Group




  • MCC1G3. Students will partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of, quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.


  • 12” x 12 “ sheet of newspaper (1 per student)
  • Coloring supplies
  • Optional:
    • Seeds (lettuce, beans, kohlrabi and/or arugula, carrots, radishes)
    • Glue Mixture (flour and water in a cup with popsicle stick for distributing)


  1. Provide each student with a sheet of 12” x 12” newspaper and challenge students to divide their paper into four equal parts (using folding as a strategy). Explain that seeds can be planted in the middle of each of the four equal parts and inform students of plants that can grow four per square feet: lettuce, beans, kohlrabi.
  2. Allow students to choose what four plants they would like to grow in their square foot garden (any combination of lettuce, beans, and kohlrabi). Students may draw a symbol that represents each in the middle of the square where they would like to plant it (for example: green leaf for lettuce, green circle for beans, purple circle for kohlrabi).
  3. Lead students in describing each of their square foot gardens (verbally or written) in terms of the fraction of the whole that is planted with each vegetable.
    (For Example: Half of my garden is planted with lettuce. One fourth of my garden is planted with kohlrabi. A quarter of my garden is planted with beans.)
  4. Optional: Create a glue mixture out of flour and enough water to create the desired consistency and “glue” lettuce, beans, and kohlrabi seeds on each of the symbols on students’ square foot gardens. These gardens can be planted under ½’’ of soil and watered regularly to grow a square foot garden either at school or at home.

Additional Content for Exploration

Optional: Challenge students further to divide their paper into sixteen equal parts (using the first division lines they created and adding others when they have successfully folded their paper to show sixteen equal parts). Explain that seeds can be planted in the middle of each of the sixteen equal parts and inform students of plants that can grow sixteen per square feet: arugula, carrots, radishes.

Variation 1: Create square foot garden model on card stock and punch holes through the middle of each equal part to create a template to drop seeds through in the garden.

Variation 2: Use thumbtacks and string to divide a raised bed into square feet to serve as a guide for plant spacing.

Recommended Resources



  • Square Foot Gardening with Kids  by Mel Bartholomew

Children’s Literature

  • Water, Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine & Angela Demos Halpin
  • The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony
  • In a Nutshell by Joseph Anthony

Explorations in this Collection

Sallie Humble Elem

Planting a Square Foot Garden

Sallie Humble Elem

Exploring the Effect of Seed Spacing

Sallie Humble Elem

Modeling the Square Foot Garden