Rain Gardens for Educators

Did you know that rain gardens can function as a core-content based learning tool for your classroom? Actively engaging and involving the students in the planning, design, building and maintenance of your campus rain garden can help to enhance classroom objectives and meet Arkansas Core Curriculum standards.

From planning to installation to management, there are activities to engage students in learning from the rain garden processes. Below are the activities that will enhance the student's understanding of the following topics:

What is a Watershed?

These activities are focused on giving students a broad perspective on what a watershed is and why it is important to keep it healthy.

What is a Rain Garden?

These activities will give students a basic overview of what a rain garden is and how it functions.

Rain Garden Site Analysis

Investigate school grounds and collect information for developing a rain garden.

Identify Soils

Students identify soil type at their proposed rain garden location(s) using a soil texture feel test key.


Students measure water flow into and through soils.

Rain Garden Calculations

Students measure and calculate to determine size and depth of rain garden.

Planting Design

These activities are focused on assisting students with the planting design and layout for the rain garden.

Installation Day

Students learn how to plant while planting transplants in their school rain garden.

Maintaining a Rain Garden

These activities will help to give students a sense of ownership and pride in maintaining their rain garden while learning too!

Service Learning: Making Community Connections

Students write and develop outreach materials such as a brochure, flyer, door hanger, article or poster that informs the community about their rain garden project.

Core Curriculum Standards

The links provided give an overview of what Arkansas Core Curriculum Standards are connected to the planning, building and management of a rain garden.

View Arkansas Core Standards: Science Frameworks PDF

View Arkansas Core Standards: Math Frameworks PDF


Elementary (K-5)

Water, which covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, circulates through the crust, oceans and atmosphere in what is known as the water cycle. This cycle maintains the world’s supply of fresh water. Students should have experiences that contribute to the understanding of evaporation, condensation and the conservation of matter.

Students will describe the circulation of water (evaporation and condensation) from the surface of the Earth, through the crust, oceans and atmosphere (water cycle); explain how matter is conserved in this cycle.

All organisms, including humans, cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or to other organisms; other changes are beneficial (e.g., dams benefit some aquatic organisms but are detrimental to others). By evaluating the consequences of change using cause and effect relationships, solutions to real life situations/dilemmas can be proposed.

Students will describe human interactions in the environment where they live; classify the interactions as beneficial or harmful to the environment using data/evidence to support conclusions.

Students will explain how and why personal responsibility and good work habits (e.g., school attendance, honesty, cooperation) are important at home, school and work.

Students will analyze patterns and make generalizations about the basic relationships of plants and animals in an ecosystem (food chain).

Plants make their own food. All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants. Basic relationships and connections between organisms in food chains, including the flow of energy, can be used to discover patterns within ecosystems.

Middle School (6-8)

Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. Often changes in one component of an ecosystem will have effects on the entire system that are difficult to predict. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.

Students will describe the interrelationships and interdependencies within an ecosystem and predict the effects of change on one or more components within an ecosystem.

Students will describe the relationships between organisms and energy flow in ecosystems (food chains and energy pyramids); explain the effects of change to any component of the ecosystem. Energy flows through ecosystems in one direction from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to carnivores and decomposers.

Interactions among the solid Earth, the oceans, the atmosphere and living things have resulted in the ongoing development of a changing Earth system.

High School (9-12)

Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Human activities can deliberately or inadvertently alter the dynamics in ecosystems. These activities can threaten current and future global stability and, if not addressed, ecosystems can be irreversibly affected.

Students will identify individual work habits/ethics (e.g., individual/team responsibilities, willingness to learn, integrity, respect, confidentiality, self-discipline, problem-solving, punctuality, communication skills) and explain their importance in the workplace.

Students will describe the components and reservoirs involved in biogeochemical cycles ( water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen); explain the movement of matter and energy in biogeochemical cycles and related phen