“Stone Soup Garden”

“Stone Soup Garden”

This garden is based on lessons learned in the beloved folk tale of the same name. Students will learn about the importance of sharing resources and how making soup can help build community. There are many stone soup tales that come from a span of cultures; students will compare and critique these stories, map where they take place, and eventually write, perform and film their own stone soup movie. This unit has natural links to the the 1st grade study of rocks. What kind of stones make the best soup? Sedimentary? Metamorphic? Hmm. After the harvest, the class will cook and share a pot of actual stone soup. Yum!

Spring Lessons

Introduction to Spring Planting:

Have you ever planted something in the gardens at Atkinson? What did you plant? We are going to plant a garden soon. We will plant seeds. We will also plant starts. What is a start? Why might we plant a start instead of a seed? What do you think will be the needs of these seeds/starts over the summer (sun, water, weeding)? What do you think will be the needs of these seeds over the summer (sun, water, weeding)? How will this happen (discuss irrigation system, volunteers)? What are some of the problems that our plants might encounter (pests, drought) over the summer?

Introduction to the Legacy Idea and the Theme:

The garden we are going to plant will have a theme. In the fall, you will have moved on to another class, so you won’t harvest these plants. This garden will provide a gift to your teacher’s incoming fall class. It will be a surprise for them. Likely, someone will plant a surprise garden for your class to harvest in the fall, too. The garden we plant will have the theme of … what will it be? Dramatically open the mystery envelope, pull out the slip of paper and read the theme out loud (or have a student or the teacher read it.) The theme of our garden is “The Stone Soup Garden.”

Discussion of the Stone Soup Theme:

What do you think we might plant for this garden? You will find a recipe for Stone Soup in the box, a list of plants and seed packets, some stones, and a blank garden map. Talk about the recipe. Bring in the starts that have been waiting in the hall or back of the classroom. Examine the seeds and starts — discuss and compare. How are they alike? How are they different? Also take a look at the stones. Describe them and discuss their attributes. Can we plant stones?


Before planting, be sure that your garden box has a grid in place. Half the class should go out to the garden and plant half the seeds and starts. They should record on a map of the garden where they have planted the various seeds and starts. Talk about the grid in your box how it is useful. Take some time to look at grids in other boxes. Are they all the same? Have each child make a map of your box to take home, while the parent volunteer or teacher makes a large map to include in the letter/packet to next year’s class. While half the class is in the garden, the other half of the class should listen to the story “Stone Soup.” Discuss the story. Bring out the large pot and spoon. Assign roles to the students and help them to act out a version of the story. This works best if the parent or teacher is the “narrator” and the students act out the parts as they are narrated. The students should pretend to have vegetables, or use blocks to represent the various things in the story. The two class halves should switch roles and repeat the activities.

Once all the students have been to the garden, they should write a letter about the garden/theme to the incoming class.

Here’s a sample letter:

Dear (next year’s class),

We have a surprise for you. We have planted a garden for you to harvest. This is a Stone Soup Garden. How many different kinds of vegetables can you find in this garden? Can you find any stones? Here’s a map of where we planted the vegetables. Do you like soup?
Happy Harvesting!

(Last Year’s Class)

Materials for Spring Lesson

  • A mystery envelope that contains a paper on which is written “Stone Soup”
  • Blank maps of garden marked with grid
  • Any version of the story “Stone Soup”
  • Recipe for Stone Soup
  • A large pot and spoon, some blocks
  • Sample letter and materials for letter writing (wax, envelopes, etc.)
  • Seeds and starts to plant:
    • 1 celery plant
    • Handful of carrot seeds (Mokum or Bolero)
    • Onions
    • Potatoes (put in communal potato bed)
    • 1 tomato plant (Oroma or other)
    • Basil
    • Majoram
    • Parsley

Fall Lessons

Begin the year’s garden lesson by asking the class if they planted a garden last spring. What did they plant? What have they eaten from the garden in the past? This fall, we are going to harvest a garden that another class planted for us last spring. If there are letters available from the previous year’s class, now is the time to read them. What kind of garden has been planted for you? Visit the garden. Make your garden visits in small groups. Don’t pick anything yet, but do ask the students to point out and discuss what is growing. If you have a garden map left from the class who planted the garden, use it to identify the plants. Bring a clipboard and paper out to the garden and with the help of the students, list the plants that you see there. Walk around the gardens and look around at the other garden boxes. What other plants are growing in the garden? What plants do you recognize? What is new to you? Be sure not to harvest from any boxes (yet.)

Read several versions of Stone Soup. How do the versions differ? How are they the same? Which is your favorite? Why? What is the Stone Soup story trying to teach us? Can you think of other situations where individual contributions add up to a greater whole?

Work together to turn the story Stone Soup into a play. Set the play at Atkinson. Act out the play and film it. (e.g. Two strangers arrive at Atkinson Elementary and knock on the door of a 1st grade classroom. They are tired and hungry and ask if there is soup to be had. There is not. They mention that they could make a delicious pot of soup if they only had a stone… The class happens to have a stone. What kind of stone would the strangers like? The class has a variety of stones, since they happen to be studying stones. The strangers ask for a pot – the class has that also. Then they ask for the various ingredients in the soup. Members of the class go out to the garden to harvest the ingredients from the garden – film each sequence. Film members of the class cooking the soup … the soup begins to smell good … various members of the school community knock on the door to inquire about the good smells. Each time the class says they are making “Stone Soup.” Eventually the principal knocks on the door. He notices the strangers (dressed up students.) He asks why they didn’t sign into the office when they entered the building. In the end, everybody ends up eating Stone Soup together.


Various versions of the stone soup story – many are available.

Stone Soup Recipe:

3 clean smooth round stones
3 stalks celery
2 lg. carrots
2 med. onions
2 med. potatoes
3 med. tomatoes
1/2 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. parsley
1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. rice


Wash hands. Everyone can chop or measure something. Put in a large crock pot. Cover with water. Cook 2 to 3 hours on high. Remove bay leaf before serving. Did the baker bring a loaf of bread to share with the soup?

Fall shopping list:

  • Any vegetables that didn’t grow well
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rice
  • Loaf of bread?

Also need:

  • Measuring utensils
  • Knives and cutting boards
  • Crockpot
  • Paper cups and forks for serving
  • Don’t forget to plant an assortment of stones for the kids to find
  • Scrubber for carrots and stones