The Secret Garden Lesson Plans

In the classic novel The Secret Garden, two unlikable children, Mary and Colin, overcome their contrary ways on the mysterious grounds of their Yorkshire mansion. It's a great story for students about friendship, family, and willpower.

Student Activities for The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden Summary

Mary Lennox, an ornery, unlikable child, is sent to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, in Misselthwaite Manor. She is placed under the loose care of a young housemaid named Martha. At first Mary continues her disagreeable character, but after spending some time in the estate’s gardens, she begins to change. Mary learns to be curious and play in the gardens making friends with Ben Weatherstaff, a gardener, and a red robin.

Martha shares stories with Mary about her large family living in a cottage. Mary likes Martha’s stories and is especially fond of her mother Mrs. Sowerby, and Dickon, a twelve year old boy who befriends the wildlife.

Mary also learns about a garden that has been locked up for ten years; Mr. Craven and his wife loved the garden and would spend hours inside it. When she died, Mr. Craven had it locked up and the key buried. Mary is quite curious about the secret garden and with the help of the robin, she finds the key and the hidden door. Inside, Mary secretly begins weeding hoping that the roses will still be alive after ten years of abandonment.

One night, inside the Yorkshire mansion, Mary hears the sound of someone crying. She discovers Colin Craven, an ill-tempered ten year old boy who believes he is going to die. Colin and Mary get along much to the surprise of everyone else in the house. The two eat together, read books, and share stories of the secret garden and Dickon.

After sharing the story of the secret garden with Colin, it is decided that he will venture out and Dickon will be his escort. From then on, Colin, Mary, and Dickon visit the secret garden every day and even let old Ben Weatherstaff in on their secret. Colin experiments with Magic and first stands, then walks, and finally is able to run and exercise like a regular boy. He keeps these new abilities a secret from the servants and Dr. Craven, until he is able to surprise his father himself.

Essential Questions for The Secret Garden

  1. Why is family important - especially for children?
  2. What is magic?
  3. What is willpower?
  4. How does your thinking have an effect on what happens around you?

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Image Attributions
  • Bulbs • tjmwatson • License Attribution (
  • Ilkley Moor • Tim Green aka atoach • License Attribution (
  • Stubborn goat • quinet • License Attribution (
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