I love my garden. It’s a tiny little thing by most standards, but it’s all mine. And it has been years in the making. Each Mother’s Day and birthday, my husband and kids have added little bits here and there as gifts to me. Three years ago, it was two raised beds. Two years ago, a two more. Last year, we added two apple trees. It’s my happy place. If I’m having a bad day, I go out to my garden and my mood is instantly lightened.

There are so many reasons to love a garden. They make us feel better, they provide us food and beautiful flowers, and it’s an amazing natural classroom for kids. And for us too, for that matter. It’s where we can experiment, observe, collect and hypothesize. So as much as the garden is mine, it’s also my kids’.

Now, let’s talk more about this natural classroom idea. I am increasingly a fan of learning that isn’t quite so structured. Perhaps it’s because my kids are in a highly structured place all day: school. I’m really loving the idea of a slower summer. One where there’s learning every day, but it’s more natural—getting outside, playing with friends, writing in a journal about whatever they want, reading, etc. That’s why I love the idea using the garden as a math classroom. It’s real-world, hands-on, and for many kids, more interesting than a filling out a book of drills.

Whether you have a few pots sitting on a window sill or a great big garden in your backyard, here are some garden math projects to keep learning going all summer long.

Pick a plant in the garden to measure every day for a week. Make a chart. Then take a week off. Measure it again. Do the math to see how much it grew during the week you weren’t checking.

Many vegetables that we eat start off as flowers. Count how many flowers are on a plant and see how many veggies you’ll get.

Take a good look at the garden. How many different colors are in it? Shapes? Turn your data into a bar graph. Which color or shape is the most common? You can do the same for bugs.

One of the great things about learning in a natural environment is that, much like life, it’s ever-changing.

Enjoy your time in the garden!